Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank Sumida Interview
Narrator: Frank Sumida
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Barbara Takei (secondary)
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: September 23, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-sfrank-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So we're going to get started, and the way I start is today is Wednesday, September 23, 2009, and we are in Los Angeles at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, part of the Japanese American National Museum. Doing the interview with me is Barbara Takei, I'm Tom Ikeda, and on camera we have Dana Hoshide. And so today we're here with Frank Sumida. And so Frank, I'm going to start at the very beginning.

FS: Okay, go ahead.

TI: And so can you tell me where and when you were born?

FS: Chicago, Illinois, at Cook County. What was that hospital? I don't know if I have my birth certificate.

TI: Oh, that's okay. But what was the date of your birth?

FS: Oh, 8/10/25.

TI: Now, so were you born at a house or in a hospital?

FS: Hospital, yeah.

TI: So you're the first person I've interviewed that's born in Chicago.

FS: Oh. Mayor Daly was a clerk at that time. He signed my birth certificate.

TI: Oh, that's amazing.

FS: And then it's the second or third Daly now, in Chicago.

TI: Right, so this is the old Boss Daly?

FS: Yeah, the old grandpa.

TI: Interesting. So now I want to talk about your parents. Your father, can you tell me his name and where he was raised?

FS: Gee, I can't pronounce his Japanese name, I, it has I, just the initial I. Sumida. My mother's name was Shigeno, that'd be a better help.

TI: And where was your father from?

FS: Hiroshima. Mother, Hiroshima.

TI: And do you know what the family, your father's family did in Japan?

FS: Farmers.

TI: How about your mother's family?

FS: Farmers. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: And let's ask first about your father. How did he come to the United States?

FS: Demand for laborers, contract laborers, 1905, contract laborers for the Great Northern Railroad, he signed up for the railroad, two years.

TI: And how did he end up in Chicago of all places?

FS: He got released from the railroad on a two-year term, over. The foreman was an Irish guy, according to my father, and his business partner, they both said the same. That they could stay with the railroad or go wherever they want, and they get all their money, paid, and a reference letter. So he, lot of Issei, like people in camp, they didn't want go out. They didn't want to leave the railroad because outside is foreign, so they stay with the railroad, you see, going right back to the camp. But then, anyway, my dad and his buddy, Mr. Sakamoto, they went to Detroit first, and they learned cooking. So my dad, in short time, was head of, one of the head chefs at the Detroit Athletic Club, and Henry Ford was one of his clients.

TI: That's a good story.

FS: I had the menu, and you know how we travel around, everything got lost. But there was a proof, a menu. And I often, when I was young, I'd just look at the menu, but as I got older, I was thinking, you know, my old man, people say he's stupid, but that guy could write a French menu, and there's the proof.

TI: So he was a chef.

FS: Chef, head chef, one of the head chefs.

TI: In Detroit.

FS: Detroit Athletic Club.

TI: And then after that, did he go to --

FS: He went to Chicago, that's when I was born.

TI: Now, why did he go to Chicago?

FS: I don't know. [Laughs]

TI: So some opportunity was there...

FS: I think I know why; I think there was more Irish people there.

TI: And why Irish people? Why was he...

FS: Chasing, he was chasing Irish girls. See, he was single. My dad was, he was a loverboy. And he didn't tell me, but his business partner would tell me that my dad liked Irish girls, he liked Polish girls. There was no Japanese girls, so you can't blame 'em. And you know what a lot of Japanese menfolks did that was in Chicago in all those areas? They couldn't associate with white girls, they got black girls. So there were a lot of marriages in my early childhood.

TI: So interracial marriages between Japanese and...

FS: Yeah, because no Japanese. And they had no money to go to Japan.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: But then, eventually, your father married your mother, Japanese.

FS: Yeah, because my folks, grandfather, grandmother, were after my dad. "You got to get married. You're thirty years old, what are you doing?" you know. "So we got a wife for you, we got a bride for you, come on back and marry her," before 1925. So I think they married about 1922, '23, somewhere around there.

TI: So your father went back to Hiroshima...

FS: To get the wife.

TI: ...they got married, and then they came back.

FS: Yeah.

TI: Given your, what was your mother like? I mean, how would she...

FS: Oh, she was big; she was tall, robust. Not fat, but a farmgirl, you know what I mean? [Laughs] Yeah, she was a hustler. She's the one that I think made, became prominent, you know, being a restaurant owner, things like that. My mom was the one that pushed it. My dad didn't care. If he had one restaurant and he was making ends meet, then that was fine. But Mother, my mother was a pusher, wanted one restaurant... so in Chicago, this is what got us through according to my business, my dad's business partner. They had a three-restaurant chain, one, two, three restaurants in Chicago. This is before I was born, you know, before '25.

TI: And what kind of restaurants would they have?

FS: American food. Funny, huh? [Laughs] He was a French cook.

TI: French cook, Japanese...

FS: No.

TI: No, but he was Japanese, and he was a French cook, and he had American restaurants.

FS: Went to Chicago, and making beef stew.

TI: And who was his clientele? With these three restaurants, what kind of customers?

FS: I would say in south State Street, so it was under Al Capone's area. A lot of minority, mostly all whites. You could say minority whites: Italian, Jewish, Polish, German, you know what I mean.

TI: So kind of working-class people?

FS: Working-class white people. There was no black people in Chicago in those days. They came after World War II and during World War II, from the South as laborers in the factories, and they stayed. So that's how the black people grew. But when I was born, there was no black people, very few. And only one there was, my dad says was railroad porters, cook, waiter, on the railroad cars, dining cars.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Okay, so now I'm going to move you to some of your memories, then. Let's now go to California. And why did your father and mother decide to go from Chicago back to California?

FS: Oh, that's a good question. Because my mother told me two of my older brothers died, infant, because of the cold. That was bad timing of my father. He could have had a kid born in summertime, before, you know what I mean, so it'd go through. But I lost two older brother, what do you call it? Influenza or some kind of sickness, cold. So my mother wanted to get out of Chicago, and then she decided she wanted to go to Seattle, but Seattle was not a prosperous town. There was a lot of discrimination in Seattle. I don't know if somebody would tell you, but that's what my dad and mother, when I hear their conversation. And the weather was not so good; they didn't like that balmy, wet weather in Seattle. And then they heard from people that Los Angeles was a good place. They jumped Frisco and they came to L.A. And it was sunny, and they went into the restaurant business and that was it before the war broke out.

TI: Okay, that makes sense. But you talked about your two older brothers who died. Did you have any other siblings besides...

FS: I had a sister in Japan, but she was given to my uncle. My uncle didn't have no kids, so he wanted kids, so my mom said, "Why don't I give you a daughter?" In Japan, daughters are useless.

TI: And where was your sister born? Was she born in the United States and then sent to Japan?

FS: I think, I think she, my mom gave birth in Japan. On one of the trips, they were going back and forth. See, my dad had a funny habit, he didn't like to stay in one restaurant, one place. He built it up, he'd buy a restaurant that's nothing, worth nothing, and then build it up and sell it for what do you call that? Goodwill? Built-in...

TI: Right, so...

FS: Profit.

TI: Profit, yeah.

FS: And then he'll get another restaurant.

TI: Oh, interesting. So he was like an entrepreneur. He would like to start things up, build up the business, sell it as an ongoing business and then start another one.

FS: And what started this was that profit he took back to Japan. Because when he left Japan, his family had nothing. See, my grandfather drank it up. He drank all, everything up, and then finally he had no more money to drink. So he became a priest, local priest. Now, priests in Japan are invited to parties. Funeral, you know where they call three-day, five-day, so they have all the food and all the drink. And my grandfather, people in my family were pretty smart, lot of respect. They were sly, you know? I call that being sly. He was not a... you know.

TI: Yeah, so who told you this story about your grandfather?

FS: I think my mom and my dad used to slip it up once in a while. I was just like my grandfather, I was this way, that way. But my mom never talked about her older brother, and he was a policeman in Tokyo. He was about a sergeant, and then he retired and went back to Hiroshima. This was before the war broke out. But anyway, he never talked, because I think in my mom's eyes, she just didn't want to talk about it. Nothing prominent.

TI: So you knew more about your father's side.

FS: Yeah, because we had the drunken priest.

TI: Oh, that's a good story.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So where, when you got to Los Angeles, where did you live in Los Angeles?

FS: We lived in, mainly in downtown area, where my dad had a restaurant. He had a restaurant before the Skid Row became Skid Row. Fifth Street was a prominent street. Because from, it went to the depot, the route to the depot. So Fifth Street went into the depot, train station, which was always on Broadway going this way. And then I remember when I was little kid, Roosevelt got office, he came down that street in an open car. I remember that.

TI: And so when he did that, was there like, was it like a parade? People were lined up on the side?

FS: Parade, yeah. And it was nothing of today. You know how Fifth Street, I don't know if you've ever been on Fifth Street today, but it's, you don't want to go there. You won't be able to get out. I'm not kidding.

TI: Yeah, no, I've been down there.

FS: Okay.

TI: It's a pretty rough area.

FS: Yeah, yeah. But in those days, Fifth Street was a very prominent area, and my dad had two restaurants on Fifth Street. And then...

TI: Do you remember the names of the restaurants?

FS: I don't know the names. One was between San Pedro and Fifth Street, so toward west, half a block up, west. That I know.

TI: And you said you lived in this neighborhood. Where, do you remember kind of what street or where?

FS: We lived on Crocker Street, in Fifth and Crocker. I remember that. [Laughs]

TI: So what are some of your, as a boy, growing up, what are some memories in terms of your friends and the things you did?

FS: Oh. When I wanted to go to, they want me to go to school, my mom told me to go to school, made me lunch, I didn't know where the school was. But there was a Chinese boy across the street, about my age, father had a laundry. I mean real hand laundry, no machine, hand, big old tub. His name was David, David Wong. I'll never forget him. So I told him, I said, "I want to go to grammar school, but I don't know where it is. Can you show me?" He said, "I'll take you." So he took me to school, he registered me. Chinese boy. And I'll never forget him, because he was a little kid, I was a little kid, but he had the sincerity to help, which I never found later. Even today, I can't find people like that. Took my hand, went to school, and then went home, took my hand, walked all the way home, and do that every day.

TI: Now, was David older than you or about the same age?

FS: About the same age.

TI: Now, how did he know how to do all this?

FS: Well, he was going to school there already. And then I really don't know if I was in the same grade with him or not. That I don't know. [Laughs]

TI: And so I'm thinking, so why weren't your parents able to help you? I mean, why didn't they...

FS: Too busy making money. My mom was taking in the front of the restaurant, my dad was in the back end.

TI: So you were pretty much left on your own to...

FS: Yeah, I'll tell you the truth now, I have no memory of eating food with my mom and dad, even New Year. So in other words, 365 days out of the year, we never sat on the table and ate together. Because my dad had a restaurant. So if I wanted something, I'd just go up to where all the food are, and I'd just help myself. My dad said, "Oh, urusai, mendokusai." So he'd tell me, "Hey, get it yourself." So whatever, stew, rice, and everything else. I couldn't fry nothing, there's nobody to fry it for me, so I only got the food that was in the pot, beef stew, you know. And so that's how me and my brother ate. I fixed my brother -- he loved soup, any kind of soup, so I gave him soup and rice, or soup and French bread with a lot of butter.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Now, so your brother, how old was your brother?

FS: Three years' difference.

TI: Was he older or younger?

FS: Younger.

TI: Okay. And what was your brother's name?

FS: Henry.

TI: Good. And so you and Henry, so after you would go to the restaurant and get your food, what would you do with your...

FS: In between?

TI: Yeah, in between.

FS: Just fool around in the back, go around the neighborhood, check it out, get in trouble.

TI: So what are some things? When you say going around just checking things out...

FS: Go fighting with other kids. I used to love to fight. So I'd fight, look for somebody to fight. And I'll tell my brother to instigate trouble, and then I'd go and save him.

TI: And so why'd you do that?

FS: Well, I was, I think I was frustrated. I don't think I had, like you say the love of the family, no attention from the parents, left alone, me and my brother. My brother was too young to know any different. But I had to take care of him. So I kind of knew that, you know... you get, it builds up. You want to do this, you're not like ordinary people. And then people look at you and they look at you funny, so I said, "What the hell you looking at?" Bang.

TI: So when you would, like, get in a fight or get in trouble, I'm guessing that people would tell your parents, "Frank got in trouble, he got..." what would they do?

FS: They wouldn't say nothing. They'd look at me, "Kizunai ka?" "No injury?" I said, "No," that's all. My mom didn't care.

TI: As you were growing up, did other community members ever talk to you, try to...

FS: Pacify me?

TI: Yeah, pacify or discipline you or talk to you or anything?

FS: No, no, they better not. [Laughs]

TI: Even an adult?

FS: They had, they had no concern. They figured the kids were kids. As long as I don't break nothing, window or break into a car. All I did was fight. So the white people, they loved that. They loved kids fighting, legitimately. No baseball bat, just fists. They encouraged you.

TI: Well, so when you were out on the streets doing this, did you do this with a group of boys or were you always with you?

FS: Most of the time I was single, never a gang. I don't remember a gang. But then I was wearing glasses from eight or nine years old, they called me "Four Eyes." Oh, yeah, right away. [Smacks fist into hand]

TI: Growing up, were you, how big were you compared to other boys?

FS: I was maybe about same size, I think, this way. This way... I didn't get proper food, I'm pretty skinny, tell you the truth. Not skinny-skinny, but slender. So then later on, when my dad went to Little Tokyo and bought this restaurant from the Yamatoda, he was a gambling boss, and it was a nice restaurant. The outside was tile, and nice big windows, nice doors. How I remember because one of my jobs was Saturday and Sunday I had to sweep the dining hall after each meal, you know how people throw things out. The reason why I did it, I loved it, was I looked for money. Every day there was some money. The smallest money I ever found in a day was a nickel. And the biggest was twenty dollar bill. And I couldn't spend that money, and I didn't even know how much it was. But I brought it into camp all folded up, you know, square, little piece like that, and I put it under a can, one gallon can of food to compress it, and then when I went in camp, you remember the pocket here? I put it in here. And that twenty dollar went all the way to, out of the camp. I couldn't, I was scared to change it because I didn't see no twenty dollar bill. In those days, twenty dollar bill was, you couldn't see it. So my job, the best job, I hated it, but I liked it, was to sweep the dining room. And I'd go like this diligently. If I see any money, I'd step on it. Then I'd look around, nobody looking, then I'd reach down and get it, put in my pocket right away. See, I was wearing an apron, you know.

TI: That's a good story.

FS: Ritual every Saturday and Sunday.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So I want to ask, you mentioned a little bit about school. So what was school like as you were going through the grades, like elementary and junior high school?

FS: I was bad; I was very bad. Grammar school, I remember Mrs. Drake, she was an old-fashioned teacher, old lady, mean. But you know, in the fourth grade, she would say, "Frank, I want to flunk you," but there is something, I'll never forget that she said, "You're smart. You're very smart, but you should use your smart in the books," transfer. So she didn't flunk me. They had sympathy.

TI: And so when a teacher like that, when Ms. Drake says, "Frank, you're a smart kid, and if you would just, like, apply it to the..."

FS: Toward this way?

TI: Yeah, you would do well. What did you think when people said that?

FS: It didn't occur to me. In other words, I didn't want to change for some reason. She didn't flunk me, so why should I change? That's my first thought. And then in junior high, I think in junior high they have algebra, Algebra I. Oh, that was hard subject. And the teacher always gave me a D and F's, and she was gonna say, said, "Frank, I want to flunk you." But you know, she says, I'll never forget, she said, "You really try." So then she's the one that told me that Thomas Edison was very stupid in grammar school. He flunked; he actually flunked. And Einstein was kicked out of school because he was retarded, Thomas Edison. So you got two genius that were worse than me.

TI: And the teacher told you this story so that you wouldn't lose hope, or that you would keep trying.

FS: Yes, yes. And when I was in junior high school, eighth grade, my last year, because nine, ten, eleven, twelve, is high school. I had a home study class, and they do a lot of special projects. They teach you something. And then one of the projects was, you know the Gettysburg Address? "Four score and seven years ago"? Everybody had a pet project to remember a work in speech. So it took me a little while, and finally one day, "Frank," Mr. Drury, he went to SC, a very nice person. Very firm, oh, god he was firm. Said, "Frank," he said, "you're the last one. I forgot what you're doing." "Oh, the Gettysburg Address." He said, "How far are you? Can you give it in front of the class?" I said, "I don't know." "Speak and see how far you are." So I went all, almost to the end. But you know, he said, "You got to really study because I hate to flunk you. You're going to go to high school, you know. So if you go to high school with good grades" -- so he says, "Do the last portion." It was the hardest part. It was hard part in there. "You get that, and then why don't you make a speech in front of the class?" Oh, man, that's what I dreaded. That's the reason why I slowed down in memorizing. I didn't want to speak. But anyway, I gave the speech. And I still remember, he said, you know, what do you call the motion with your hands when you speak? He said, "Did you do that intentionally?" I said, "No." He said, "Yeah, because at the precise time your hands flew up or you were signaling, you're motioning." And I was taken by that. So he says, "You know, you've got an A." He gave me A instead of F, that one instance. And I still remember part of the speech.

TI: 'Cause you, but you applied yourself, I mean, you really concentrated and you did something.

FS: Yeah, I found out that from that day on, I said to myself, if I do anything, if I want to do it, I can do it. I'm too lazy. So I found this out a lot later when I was in Japan.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Now, Frank, growing up, did you do any kind of sports or martial arts?

FS: Oh, yeah. I was, I did judo since I was twelve, in Little Tokyo. And I did until maybe I was forty. And I quit because my son didn't, he was too flabby. You know how, there was no tightness in his body. You know how kind of chunky people would just roll, and they're just like a dough, instead of, you know what I mean, rigid. So he could never get into the point where he could do judo and would fall and all that. He was learning how to fall, they call it ukemi, just falling, falling. He did that for ten months. And I did that only for one week, and I was doing standing practice. I didn't say nothing to my son, I said, "I'm going to see how far he, how much he can take." So I went to practice twice a week, I was going to Seinan Dojo here, pretty famous place. And I noticed my son, and then the teacher was saying, "You know, that kid is kind of retarded," talking about my kid. So I knew that he was not retarded, it was just that his form was not stiff. And then he was telling that to the fukei, the parents. So I got kind of mad and I said, "Well, you know this man here" -- I didn't say teacher -- "this man here says my son is kind of awkward," and what do you call the flabbiness? There's a word for it.

TI: Yeah, I'm not sure, soft --

FS: But anyway, and he can't get promoted to do the next phase. So I said, "As far as I'm concerned, he comes every time I come, twice a week, never complains, go home." And I ask Tony, "Tony, how was today?" He said, "Oh, okay." And he never complained, just comes diligently. Persistence is one thing that's hard in humans. And I was a grownup, and I noticed persistence in my son. So I asked my son one day, "Do you want to quit judo and go into something else?" And he says, he didn't want to make the decision. So I said, "Why don't you go into baseball? You like baseball. So why don't you quit judo and go into baseball?" He went home and he said, "Dad, is it all right if I don't go to judo?" I said, "Yeah, you go be a baseball player." So then he became a baseball player. He was a hell of a good ballplayer.

TI: That's a good story.

FS: Yeah, all-conference, high school.

TI: But was your sense that he just kept going because you were going? I mean, he didn't want to disappoint you?

FS: Well, he didn't care because I was paying the dues for my son. [Laughs]

TI: No, but I'm talking about your son.

FS: Yeah.

TI: Did your son keep going because, it was because of you?

FS: Yeah.

TI: And I wanted him to do it, so he did it for ten months. And I think that's a record; that's a world record.

TI: So going back to your judo, judo takes a lot of discipline.

FS: Yes, it does.

TI: And in talking earlier, it seemed like you were kind of an undisciplined person. I mean, you would do the streets and....

FS: Yes, very.

TI: So how did that work? I mean, was there a clash in terms of...

FS: No, I had a real good black belt higher-ups, way higher. Older too, grownups, that took a liking to me. There was one named Carl Shoji from San Gabriel. He came to our dojo three times a week, because we had a lot of black belts, big...

BT: What dojo?

FS: Rafu Dojo, Los Angeles. And he took a liking to me, and you know, he was a, his father was a lemon grower, orange grower. So they had a car. And those lemon grower and orange grower is a good farmer. You don't have to work. Just irrigate the water, and when the crops are in, just get all the Mexican people and put it in the basket, that was it. Not like flower, no minute work. So he had a lot of time, and he used to take me to tournaments. And then he took a liking to the way I did judo, and he used to concentrate on teaching me. (...) I learned from him. And he was a real good judo, he was a master, I would say.

TI: And so it sounds like when you respect someone, then you'll listen to them and work with them.

FS: Yeah, I do. I do. I think that's why they took a liking. They just kept harboring me, they take me places. Before we go to judo matches, he says, "You hungry?" I said, "No, not really." I didn't want to indulge. They said, "Well, we want to get a little snack before the tournament." And then, you know, here, the men, they take me to tournaments, so then I'd say, "I better not fool around. I better get serious. I better start winning." From that day on, I started winning. I don't care how I did it, legitimate, crooked way, I had to win. And he saw me, he saw that in me, a lot of crookedness.

TI: And what would he say? This is, you're talking about Carl...

FS: Shoji.

TI: ...Shoji.

FS: He'll make practice with me and throw me all over the place. He was high-ranking; he could throw me one hand.

TI: But when saw that, kind of, you maybe bent the rules, or the crookedness, did he ever say anything to you about that?

FS: I think that if I was in his place, and if I had a kid like that, I would say one thing: is that guy curable?

What do you call that word?

BT: Curable?

FS: Yeah, curable. "Could we change him?"

TI: Okay, right.

FS: If there's a potential, I would concentrate. That's what he did. And he showed me two techniques, they were very devastating techniques. Kids my age don't do that technique. They don't even do that, black belts, first, second, even third degree. That's why they call "uchimata." (...) You dive in and you lift your (right) leg up. And then when you lift your (right) leg up and you turn, this foot, you're standing, cannot be flat, according to Shoji. It have to be up, springing up a little bit. Inch, two inch. Then you have him lifted off the ground. If you're flat, he's able to get away, because you're too low. But you know that fraction made a hell of a big difference. When you spring up, I think you lift your whole hips up, so that the opponent's body go up like that. He's really off balance, so now you're twisting, boom.

TI: So you were like his protege, he liked to mentor you, give you these little techniques.

FS: I wouldn't say that. I think it was for my discipline.

TI: Okay.

FS: So he asked me, "How many times did you do uchimata?" "Oh, about a thousand times." He slapped my head. "Bakayaro. Ten thousand." And then next time I counted, about two weeks later, "How many times?" "Over ten thousand." " Bakayaro. Twenty thousand." One day he says, "I notice one thing. You only do right side. What about left?" "I can't do it." And he threw me all over the place, man. Everybody was looking, "Oh, that damn Frank, he's getting it tonight." Man, I thought I was black and blue. Then he says, "Now you start to learn how to do left side. Forget right side." Oh, that is hard. It was hard. It was only one month, one month. But one day, he just put, click. After that, it was so easy. I said, "What did I waste one month for?" So now, I was able to do both ways. Oh, man, that's when I threw seven guys, at uptown dojo, (tournament).

TI: And so when they had these big tournaments...

FS: All over.

TI: And did you do pretty well at these tournaments?

FS: Most of the time I won. If I do bad, I did it against a real tough guy. I either lost to him, or I split decision. There's about four guys that are stronger than me. But they became one my best friends.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: Okay, so Frank, I'm going to move on. Earlier you talked about your dad getting that new restaurant in Little Tokyo, and he bought it from a...

FS: Yamatoda.

TI: Yeah, Yamatoda.

FS: He was a yakuza boss.

TI: Right. So can you describe a little bit about the, sort of the gangster element?

FS: Yamatoda was his name, he was a yakuza, he was the boss, and he controlled the Yamato Hall, that's where they had the gambling. And then he was the head of the Nichibei Shojigaishiu, some kind of company. He had three or four company. And then he controlled the sumo; there was a lot of betting on in sumo. Not judo, sumo. And sumo is more like a, what do you call it, gambling circle sport. Most of the people that attend sumo are gamblers.

TI: And so they're betting on each match.

FS: Yeah. And so that's where the gambler comes in, and he was taking all the bets.

TI: When you say he would control sumo, I mean, what relationship did he have with the actual wrestlers?

FS: He didn't have no contract, or nothing, but he just was in this, his henchmen, people were the stands picking up bets. It had nothing to do with the sumo player itself, because once you control the sumo player, then it's no fun, because the people know the yakuza control the player. So Yamatoda was very smart in that. He left the sumo players themselves alone, and controlled the betting. So was having two people go against each other and he was the House.

TI: So it didn't matter who won...

FS: No, it didn't matter.

TI: He just got a little cut. And besides gambling with sumo, what other things would Yamatoda...

FS: All the community, farming community... see, in prewar farm communities, most of the farm people were Japanese immigrants, single people, a lot of family people, they live in shacks, you know. So payday, I don't know when, once a week, twice a week, twice a month, I don't know. Payday, Yamatoda would send a gang of leaders, you know, all those gambling, ten, twelve people, lookouts and protect, and the House, they'll set up gambling. So once they get paid, "Oh, (...) come on in, try your luck." A few are good customers, he'd even give you a charge account. If you lose all that money, give you another ten dollars. But if you lose that ten dollars, you're out. But then if you're a real good, hard worker, but you're down on your luck, Yamatoda will come support you. What's that word? Give you help.

TI: Like loan, give you a loan?

FS: Yeah, yeah. Give you ten dollar, and he says, "Don't spend it, take it home." He says, he don't say "your wife," he said, "basan." You've heard that expression. "Basan motike" feed your kids. So the guys says, "Oh, thank you, thank you." So he's in debt to him for one whole week. So you go to Yamatoda next week and try to pay it off, he said, "What are you going to eat on?" So Yamatoda said, "Give me three dollars, but no betting, no gambling. Take that seven dollars and go home." So the next week when he gets paid, he got ten dollars, paid, now he come into the club. They either take all of it, or whatever.

TI: So he was wise in the sense that he knew that these people had to keep living their lives.

FS: Yeah, and knew how to get the money and make it keep coming. He didn't dry the well. When it get a little dry, put some water in there. Very smart man.

TI: So, Frank, you're telling me in pretty close detail all these things. How did you know all these things?

FS: Yeah, because I got summoned one day to his office. That's where actually my dad had a restaurant. I wet a guy's car, one of his vice presidents. And the chauffeur came onto the curbside where I was washing the duckboard, kitchen, walking, at that time it was spotless. Man, I could kiss the board, so clean. Man, I was proud. "I think my old man, he's going to say I'm, good job." And here it is, big old Packer come right into that curb and all that black water, right through that, every board was black. And I was rinsing the last board with a hose, long hose. I went across the street with the running water and went and doused the driver. Then the guy in the back said," What are you doing?" "Nani shiteru?" So I got him and I wet him like this. I just held it there. Then he went and told the boss what I did. So then I got summoned. The same guy that got together in camp later on, gambling, Kinowaki, his name was Kinowaki. He says, "Boss want to see you." So, "Oh, I'm going to get it now."

TI: And at this point, how old were you right now?

FS: That was just before the war broke out.

TI: So about sixteen years old, fifteen, sixteen?

FS: 1940 I was, what, fifteen?

TI: Fifteen, okay. Fifteen years old, okay. So continue the story.

FS: So I had to go up three floors. Each floor was a door with a bodyguard. I mean, you know, "What do you want?" Said, "What do you want?" Third floor, black guy. He quit the police force, he became Yamatoda's private bodyguard. He said, "Oh, it's you, Frank. Old man wants to see you pretty bad." He talked English, can't talk Japanese. I said, "Yeah?" He said, "Come on in." So I sit in front of Yamatoda, he was doing some paperwork, and made me wait about five minutes. I was getting ready to go home. He looked up and he says, "Oh..." I could say this now because at that time, all I could go on is remembrance of... Japanese I could understand if someone's speaking it, but I couldn't speak it. It was funny, I was able to understand it. So what he said to me at that time was that, "You have a lot of guts, huh?" "(Do kyo) aru na?" I didn't say nothing. He said, "You know what you did?" I said, "Yes." "Doushitara ii ka?" What can I do to you?" He said, "Why did you do it?" "Doushita yata no?" He said, "You explain why." "I spent two hours cleaning that duckboard. I wanted my old man to be proud, you know?" "Jiman." He said, "Okay." So he stood up, and he gave me five bucks. He didn't scold me or nothing, he just gave me five bucks and said, "You go home." So I couldn't figure that out, why he didn't scold me, but he gave me five bucks. But I think what he saying to me, he said I had a lot of guts. [Laughs] So that's my memory of Yamatoda. He was a gangster, but every time I see him, he used to wave to me from that day on. He never said anything, just see him in a car, walking, or coming to my dad's restaurant, he'd always come to the kitchen and looked at me and go like that. [Waves] Go back to his table. That's one thing I don't understand either, why he did that. There's a lot of things in life I don't understand.

TI: And how large, I mean, so he had his group. Were there other groups that competed against him?

FS: Oh, yeah, Sacramento, Bay Area, Seattle. You name it, wherever there was a concentration of Japanese, yakuza was there

TI: in Little Tokyo, this was his territory?

FS: Yeah, Little Tokyo, and wherever else he could stretch. And I think he went to Santa Maria, where Minami had, Minami was the biggest farmer in America, Japanese. He was so big in acreage, I don't know how many acreage, he had hundreds of Japanese people working. And to this date, I don't think nobody has his quality in his brains. He was the only one that had a ice-making plant on his premises.

TI: Oh, so you're talking about Minami.

FS: Yeah, Minami. And he had a railroad siding, and it came into his warehouse.

TI: But going back to Yamatoda, how large was his organization?

FS: I think at one time, I think he must have had almost a hundred people, straight out. But he had all kinds of dealing, now. I think he had a racket, protection racket, etcetera.

TI: And you mentioned his offices were close to the restaurant?

FS: Yeah, you could see it. I used to bring him meals, Saturday and Sunday. That's how I first got introduced to him, and then I messed up later. So he knew who I was.

TI: When you say you messed up, what happened?

FS: When I got water, sprayed the water.

TI: Oh, I see.

FS: So he knew who I was.

TI: And so he would order from your father's restaurant and you would bring food up to...

FS: Yeah, then I'd bring it up. I'd bring them lunch, I'd take the breakfast back, bring the supper, I'd take the lunch back. Next day, Sunday, breakfast, I'd take the last night's supper.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: Now, besides gambling, did they also do things like prostitution?

BT: Oh, everything, you name it.

TI: Alcohol?

FS: White slavery was big. He brought in woman from Japan, they call 'em "nomiya woman." Drinking, you know... what do you call 'em? They had a name, they're not prostitute.

TI: You mean like geisha?

FS: Well, in that sense like that. Hostesses more or less. And they come in from Mexicali, Calexico, Tijuana. From Japan to Mexico. Mexico was easy to.... see, I knew the laws in those days. (...) The ladies would come into Mexico, they come to, say, Tijuana. And then they stay there, and they get arrangement, and they get sent over the border. The "wetbacks," too, now, have somebody pick 'em up. In those days, there was not that much traffic. Very few. All the Japanese people, all the women, they came across. Nobody got apprehended. The only thing wrong was when the war broke out, they had to register.

TI: Oh, so they had no papers.

FS: No paper. [Laughs] They got caught, yeah.

TI: But you mentioned the term "white slavery." I'm not sure, what did that refer to?

FS: Well, I don't know, I was too young. But the way I heard was, there was shenanigans going on, you know, with women and men. Well, what they call a brothel, yeah, yeah. They had it in Sacramento. Sacramento had a yakuza, a big one. They were rivalry, Sacramento yakuza kidnapped Yamatoda and held him for ransom. And yakuza, they couldn't get nobody else, so they drained the Japanese. [Laughs] They ransomed.

TI: And back in those days, were there, was there violence in terms of killings or things like that, shootings?

FS: No, it was controlled pretty good. Any knifings, stabbing, but we don't hear it. It was not publicized; it didn't go in the newspaper. And if a yakuza died, nobody cared. No stink. You didn't cause society any problems. Society didn't pay for the funeral, nothing. Yakuza took care of their own problems.

TI: Yeah, how about the yakuza in terms of other ethnic groups? Was there ever a sense that they protected...

FS: You mean the clashes?

TI: Yeah. Did they have to, felt like they protected their territory or the community from, say, Chinese or other....

FS: No, because discrimination was heavy in those days. So minority never had a chance to clash, (...) like I fight a Chinese guy, the Chinese guy fight me. But grownups, Chinese, they had a tong, you know. Tong, they call 'em tong, what else they had? Some other name. And the Japanese people knew it, and the tong knew the Japanese guys, but they never came across the territory.

TI: Then how about like the police, the white police?

FS: They were on the take.

TI: They had to deal with them.

FS: Yeah. When the yakuza was in Los Angeles, active, the mayor down was on the take. They were given money by the yakuza.

TI: And how did you, did you ever see that or see evidence of that?

FS: No, I heard about it. 'Cause I knew this man that, Kinowaki I keep talking about? See, when Yamatoda got deported, Kinowaki became the number one man, but he had no power. He didn't have the, what do you call it, the figure, he didn't have the clout. So the yakuza, in 1940 or '41, disbanded because the mayor, new mayor came in, no more yakuza. And then Yamatoda got deported to Japan with his hakujin wife and a hundred thousand dollars in cash. They told Yamatoda, "Either that or you go to jail. We'll give you a choice." Yamatoda took the hundred thousand, his wife, and went to Japan. Why not?

TI: So this was right before the war broke out.

FS: Right before the war, I think '40 or '41.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Okay, so Frank, we're going to start the second segment, the second hour. And before we go onto the war, I wanted to first ask about your relationship with your parents. I mean, you talk about how they were always so busy.

FS: How many days in a year?

TI: Yeah, 365 days, you never sat --

FS: We had one day off.

TI: Yeah, one day off.

FS: New Year's.

TI: And so you saw that, and you probably understood they had to work hard. But were you resentful in any way about that?

FS: No, because I saw a lot of people suffer. Not suffer, but went through the same situation I did. Just because they were hotel owner's son, it didn't mean they had it better than me. I think I ate better than them. But in a lot of respects, I saw that a lot of my friends had more money than me. When I mean more money, they had a dollar in their pocket. I never had a dollar.

TI: But at least you always had food, I guess.

FS: Yes, yes.

TI: You were never hungry.

FS: Food and lodging. And then I went judo four nights a week. I didn't have to work that day.

TI: But in terms of affection, or maybe affection isn't... but in terms of just caring for you, how would your mother or father kind of just show you that you were, that they cared for you?

FS: Well, my mother, when I bring my judo clothes home, she'll look at it, and then she'll tell me, "Send it across the street to the cleaner." She didn't wash it, she'd send it to cleaners. So she looked after my welfare that way. I noticed that very much. And then another thing I know, this is funny. after my dad went home from work, maybe seven at night, my mother would be there until closing time, which was eleven, twelve. So about nine o'clock, she would give me a couple of bucks and then she'd say, "Go down to Lim's Cafe and get, I ordered something, pick it up." She'd call Chinese food. On the sly, my mom was getting pakkai and all that good stuff, almond duck. I regret that, because to my dying day, I never got a piece of it. And then she won't let me eat ice cream, and I had to get the ice cream from the front, not in the kitchen. So the only way I ate ice cream was my mom wasn't around. Because she used to go in the afternoon and take rests. So that's the time that I used to go in, Saturday, and get the ice cream, in a big old bowl, I used to dump it in there. And jell-o, I used to put... I'd go and eat that, man was it good, especially when you stole it. [Laughs]

TI: That's a good story.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: So your parents ran a restaurant, and you had to help out in the restaurant. How about things like cooking? Did you learn how to cook?

FS: Yeah, I learned how to cook.

TI: So why don't you describe that, some of the things you learned.

FS: Well, how to, like I said before, I knew how to roast, I made the best shortrib, and then I made the best gravy because of the residue out of the shortrib. Learned how to make stew, I learned how to make soup, put the flavor, make mayonnaise from scratch, which I don't think nobody can do. It's unheard of because it's all bottled, right? And even in those days, it used to come in big gallon cans, bottles, not small, big ones, restaurant use. And make French dressing, tartar sauce, what else?

TI: And so were these things your father taught you, or who taught you all these things?

FS: Most of that I learned myself. And then out of a cookbook. Dad, he had no time for me. And the reason why I did it was I got curious. You know, those things paid off later because when I went later in life, I knew how to make mayonnaise. And a guy said, "Prove it." And this was a lot later, when I was in Santa Fe. The head cook said, "Show it. Prove it." So I said, "You got mustard, you got this, you got that," and he brought everything else, so I made it. He said, "How come you go only one way?" He said, "You go only one way, if you go this way, you return it to me." That's what I learned, now. so beat it one way. And it took time, and I made it, and you know, that old man, he was the owner of a restaurant in Galveston, Texas, he had three taverns. He's a rich man. And he got caught because he was contributing to Japan, donation. Because it don't matter where you were, the FBI had records. So he was picked up from Galveston and sent to Lordsburg, Lordsburg to Santa Fe. But anyway, he, then I was sharpening a knife one day, this was the first couple days in the mess hall. I was looking at something, talking, and I was sharpening the knife on the steel, you know. He said, "Hey, you're going to cut your hand." I cut my hand already, five years ago, many a times. So he was very impressed. He knew I could make mayonnaise, I was just a young kid, not even twenty.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So, Frank, we're going to get started again, and I apologize for that interruption. So I guess I want to go now to...

FS: War?

TI: Yeah, December 7, 1941. And what are your memories of that day?

FS: Well, you know what a rice in a bag, rice in little pebble? I was that little pebble. I didn't even know what was going on. I didn't know what bombing of Pearl Harbor meant, except that a plane bombed, but I didn't know the consequence, what effect had nationwide, nationally. It was beyond me. When they say the "Japs" bombed Pearl Harbor, but to me, it didn't make sense. I didn't know. To tell you the truth, I don't want to say this and that, make a lie of it.

TI: What about the reaction of people around you? Did you notice... so you said you were like the pebble in a sack of rice, so when you say that you were --

FS: One rice.

TI: Yeah, so you were different than everyone else.

FS: I would say the surroundings, there was nobody beating me up or calling me names or something. I think the people are all numb. They were like me, they probably couldn't comprehend the bigness. If they bombed Los Angeles, maybe they'll wake up. But Hawaii, a lot of people didn't know where Hawaii was at one time, right? We all know where it is, but... so I think if you want my true feeling of this, up here, at that time, I had no knowledge. It was too big.

TI: Well, how about things like your father's business? Because eventually he had to...

FS: He lost it.

TI: shut that down.

FS: He lost a ten thousand dollar restaurant. Never compensated. Not a penny. And then the Jewish and all the, not the Jewish, but the wholesale people that do restaurant equipment, they were waiting out the door for us to go to camp. And the minute we went in camp, they just go right in there and steal everything. They won't buy it. They knew we were going into camp, so why buy it when you could get it free? And that's what they did. You know, when I think about that restaurant, it had stainless steel in the kitchen. All the working table and everything were custom made. And we had a small walk-in freezer. It's unheard of. And then even the dishwashing rack, huh? Not tin, stainless. It was a pretty, pretty fancy restaurant.

TI: Do you recall your dad's feelings, realizing he had to walk away from this restaurant, was it hard for him?

FS: It was hard. That's when he started saying that when he left Japan, he didn't have nothing. At that time, 1941, December, I think he had -- because every month, I used to bring three hundred dollars to the Yokohama Specie Bank to be remitted to Japan. Three hundred bucks American money he used to send once a month. So that money was put into the bank in Japan, okay? But meantime, we had money in the Yokohama Specie for local, American money. That was frozen when the war started. FBI froze it right away. So my dad had no money to operate, and he couldn't sell the restaurant, so he just hung on, because he knew that, we heard about the camp. So we thought that the sooner we went to camp, the better, because the less we suffer, monetary. But we went to camp in April of '42. Yeah, April. So all during that time, from December, my dad was operating without hardly no money, except for the daily money. The bank was frozen. So my dad was disgusted with America. He had land in Japan, farmland, a house, and a big, what they called a kura, storeroom, and he had all kinds of stuff. He had farmland in two areas, my mom's area and his. So he was pretty rich. All came from America. So he knew there was more stuff in Japan than what he hid, and here he had nothing. Here when we went to camp, we were supposed to be rich, but we didn't have no money. So my dad had to work just to get supplement money, pennies. He had thousand dollars in the bank. I don't know how many dollars, but three, four thousand dollars. That was his extra savings, couldn't touch it. His checking was no good no more. Same thing.

TI: Well, during this time period, so it's hard for your dad, he was just living off the daily receipt.

FS: Daily receipts.

TI: What were you doing during this time?

FS: Same thing, working in the restaurant and hearing about the war. Japan did, Japan was going here and there. I didn't know where the hell Indochina was, or Singapore, let alone.

TI: And how about business? Did business change after?

FS: No, no change.

TI: So still the same people.

FS: Same people came, the white people. We had a lot of white people in Little Tokyo. All the other restaurant had Japanese people. But my dad's way of, what do you call it, taste, and type of food that we had on our menu, it was more for Americans, the white people. They liked that. They liked my dad's food, so we had a lot of factories around, warehouse around Little Tokyo. They all came. And noontime, they used to stand and wait. People were standing and looking at the guy eating, "Oh, he's down to the last spoon." Wait for him to get out. You don't just stand anywhere, you look at the guys eating. Said, "Oh, one-third, one-eighth," you know what I mean.

TI: Just to get seat, they were waiting for a seat.

FS: Just to get a seat.

TI: And so his business still kind of was okay then?

FS: I don't, I didn't see much change. Maybe a little bit, because the trend of the war did change things, movement of people. You know, factories open up, this and that, clothing here, open. So maybe there was a fluctuation. But funny people, the Japanese trade in Little Tokyo was not the one you want. I'll tell you why. You've heard of Komai newspaper, Rafu Shimpo? His reporter used to come to our restaurant in the morning. And my mom is the one that told me. We used to give two cups of coffee, one cup and a refill. And then two doughnuts for I don't know how much, ten cents or five cents. So this guy would get one cup of coffee, eat one doughnut for his first, then he told my mom, "I'll come in the afternoon for the second." Second cup of coffee and a doughnut. So that's how tight those guys were. I'm talking about nickels. So my dad didn't, my mom didn't like the Japanese trade because they're too damn tight. Can you believe that? But how many people know those things? Not many people know these things. You have to be in the restaurant business and see that.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Well, did you notice things like, in terms of tipping, did people tip back then and was there a difference between Japanese and your other...

FS: Wednesday, every Wednesday and Friday, 9 p.m., a lady in a fur coat or fur stole, high heels, man was she a good-looking woman. I was a kid, but I look at her and said, "Man, good looking." She came in the restaurant. At that time of night, there was a lot of young people eating to go to work in the market, fruit market, vegetable, because they worked nights. And they'd sell in the morning and they go home by nine, ten o'clock until evening. So all those people, they were full of young kids, young teenager, you know, single people. She came in and conversation just stopped. It was like a church. You could hear it drop. You drop a spoon on the floor, you could hear, they just follow her as she goes into that, we have two booths. She'll sit in one of 'em. And I see her come, and I reverse my apron, and then dive in and serve her. My mom used to make me serve her. She didn't like her, because my mom knew what kind of woman she was. She was a high-class call girl. She came in a taxi, taxi was waiting out there. Yeah. So I said, "Good evening, Ma'am," had my apron reversed. She said, "Oh, good evening, Frank." By then, she knew me. She said, "What do you have for special for me tonight?" So I'd tell the cook, I'd even go get this food for her, Wednesday and Friday. "We have nice spring chicken with..." what do you call it? College fries? Like big french fries. And I still remember, I looked up in a menu about Waldorf salad. It's fancy salad, fancy, some kind of dressing, I forgot the name. And I would repeat it, she said, "Oh, that sounds wonderful. I'll have that." She'll sit down and take her coat off, and she'd go to the restroom. She'd go through the kitchen to the restroom, we had a young cook, nighttime. He'd drop everything. My mom would place an order, he couldn't even hear it, he was just watching her. Plus all the guys in the dining room. All during the time she was there, everybody was just looking. And she did that twice a week, and then her bill came to about, everything was special price, it came to about sixty, seventy cents. Everybody else paid twenty cents, for a three-course dinner, twenty cents. Soup, entree, salad, you know, all that, twenty cents. And here it was sixty, seventy cents. I had to bill her special. And she'd flip that bill, and she gave me a dollar for the bill, and then she'd give me two dollar, put it under the dish so I could see it. Two bucks, folded in half. Dollar and... three dollars. Dollar and two, that two dollar my tip. That's what I went for. And for about a year and a half. The war messed me up. I lost that customer; I had to go to camp. I regret that. I knew what she was, I heard stories, but it didn't bother me.

She used to always cater to me, and she used to give me a riddle, a question. She must have been one smart woman at one time. She would tell me about a man had a mining claim, and he went digging and got a little bit, flakes of gold, got a little bigger and bigger but he couldn't find the mother lode, but he kept going, but he was getting bigger returns. So he went back home and told people, family and neighbors, everything, to get a venture money, huh, so he can buy equipment. So they loaned him money and he went in, he was getting rich. He was paying the money off and everything. Then one day he just plum ran out, ran out of the gold. And the question is, she said, "Frank, what did he do?" So she said, "When I came Friday, I hope you have the answer." You know how much that answer is worth? Five bucks.

TI: She told you beforehand that she would pay you five...

FS: Yeah, "If you solve the riddle." Man, Thursday and Friday I wracked my brains out. I asked people, god, I couldn't get it. And then finally, finally, my dad was talking with somebody, this was Thursday morning or Thursday afternoon before, she came in the evening. But it was after school or something, I talked to somebody about, "Shoemaker's a shoemaker, and a daiku's a daiku, and a doctor's a doctor. You can't be everything." So, okay, well, that miner, he wanted to be everything. You know, miner, financer, he thought he was a geologist, everything. But said, "No, no, you're missing something." So I wracked my brain, said, "What could he do? What could that man do?" I said, "Hire a geologist." 'Cause I knew what a geologist was in those days. Even my age. So I put the answer in, said, "They hired a geologist and make him tell where the gold is." Before she left, five bucks, plus my two, that's seven bucks.

TI: [Laughs] That's a good story.

FS: But that was going on all the time.

TI: And so the war, sort of, just changed all that.

FS: Oh, it disrupted my whole life.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: So let's talk about that. So eventually you had to leave Los Angeles.

FS: Yeah.

TI: So where did you go after...

FS: Santa Anita.

TI: And what was that like? Describe Santa Anita and what you...

FS: I was at the front entrance, and a Jewish man and a son came. And they used to... (they were) vegetable peddler that supplied my dad with all the vegetables, so he came to see us off. He was the only one that came to see us. And I was, we'd talk on this side of the fence, then the guard said, "All right, you guys, all you guys that are tagged, go inside," nametags on, all that. And I says, went on the other side and I started talking, you know, continued talking. Anyway, you know what the man told me? He said, "This is what they're doing in Germany right now, to the Jews. Don't forget it. And you know, I didn't know what he meant. When I went into Santa Fe, he knew it. Because we didn't have no story about holy cause in America. If they knew, they didn't tell us. But I found out in Santa Fe, I heard something about the holy cause from Life magazine. Just a little print, little picture. Then I said, "That's what he's talking." Being imprisoned, see. But it took me four years to find out what he meant. This is what they're doing in Germany right now. Never forget it.

TI: That's, yeah, that's so...

FS: So that's my, before I went into camp, I wasn't that innocent when I went in, but I couldn't figure that out. I wish I knew what he meant. Then I would have been a redneck, huh? I would have been, I would have started the Hoshidan in Santa Anita.

TI: Oh, if you understood all that.

FS: If I knew that meaning, because that was prejudice.

TI: Right. You mentioned the guards kind of ordering you around. In general, how did the guards treat Japanese?

FS: They want nothing to do with us. Even, we called them policemen inside the camp, and we don't call them police, we called them wardens, like game wardens.

TI: Or like prison wardens.

FS: Yeah, something like that. They were the guards, and they were dressed in just ordinary clothes, and they carried guns, .38. And you heard about the riot in Santa Anita?

TI: I have in the past, but describe, tell me what you know about it.

FS: The riot started, we only did about four months in the camp, so it was very close. And something else happened, too, I got sent to the jail in Arcadia. I got picked up for gambling. Remember I was telling about the number one man? He told me, he said, "Oh, Sumida, what are you doing?" Said, "I got work for you, come on." So people were staying in stables. But people didn't like the stable because they put asphalt on top the dirt. So they didn't take the stink out, all they did was just took all the straw and leveled that, and pour asphalt. The smell was still there, so nobody liked it, but it was a good place to have gambling because they didn't, people that lived there were living somewhere else with some friends. So there was an empty place. So that's where we had the gambling, Japanese, they called it shiko. And then I was working there, and I think I was the second month. You know, my dad didn't know what I was doing. We got raided by the wardens, and I got sent to Arcadia police station. I was big time. [Laughs] And then I got, that was late in the afternoon, so there was nobody to book us, so they wanted, they book us the next morning. So we went again to the booking place, and they asked me my name and all that. They asked me how old I was, and I told 'em... let me see. How old...

TI: You'd be fifteen or sixteen years old.

FS: Yeah, okay. So he said, "You're a goddamn kid. Get the hell out of here." So they didn't book me, they sent me out. They told me to go back to camp. And the warden said, "Well, there's no car, you're going to have to walk." So I walked way down, about a mile, and all through the... should have kept going. [Laughs] But that's my... and then the riot started.

TI: Well, before that, so what happened to the men that were booked at Arcadia? Did they have to stay there, or what happened to them?

FS: I don't know. I was the only one booked; I was the only one gambling there, I was the House.

TI: Oh, so you were the only one picked up, I see.

FS: As far as the, all the rest of the customers. So I don't know what happened to the customers, but they couldn't book me because I was a minor. They couldn't book my boss because he was outside somewhere else. He showed me how to do it, and then I just took over. And then when it closed, I took the proceeds and gave it to him. Then he used to give me two bucks, three bucks a day. A lot of money. [Laughs] That was my money.

TI: And were there other, sort of, gambling games going on in the same area?

FS: No, that's the only one I know, yeah. And nobody wanted to infringe, because he's, he was a yakuza man. They know that (...).

TI: And you said he was the number one man, so he was...

FS: Next to the boss.

TI: Next to the boss, and the boss left for Japan.

FS: So his job mainly was to escort the boss's wife around, bodyguard. So he was a trusted man.

TI: And so then you returned, and you said the riots happened.

FS: Yeah, the riot started, it was caused by the white mess hall superintendent, mess hall, white people running the mess. And then my, like my dad was the head Japanese boss, foreman there. So they had a mess supervisor or whatever you want to call it. They were chiseling the food, sugar. And they were selling it. And when the truck leaves, they put all that stuff on the truck, and the truck would just take it someplace and sell it. And my dad caught 'em many a time. He recorded it. And then not only that, some other mess hall, too. My dad was telling them to watch out. So they had recording, all the coffee and sugar and good stuff, molasses, hard to get stuff. And there were black market. That was one cause, and then the biggest cause was we had a lot of Korean people in camp. See, Santa Anita had twenty thousand people. In that twenty thousand, there were I don't know how many Koreans. They were, they're called inu, "dogs." But they were --

TI: So I want to get clear, so the Koreans were in there. Why did they pick up Koreans also? Because they weren't --

FS: No, 'cause they understood Japanese, and they looked like Japanese. You can't put a black man in there, you can't put an Indian in, you can't put a Chinese, because Chinese stand out. They do. The Koreans, they look like Japanese. You know, you look at 'em. Even the girls, huh? Korean girls.

TI: But still, yet they had to be registered to go in, so they were...

FS: Oh, that's all, that's all taken care of by the big shots. It's easy. Like you, said, "You want a job in being a security? Watch people and see what they do?" You say, "Yeah," I pay you so much, say like you get three hundred bucks a month in those days. Camp people were only making ten dollars, nine dollars a day, a month, big money. So you take it. If you're informed, like me, "Oh, that guy Sumida, he's gambling," so you tell a big shot.

TI: So these were, like, plants inside the population? They weren't workers, per se, but they were just...

FS: No, no, no, they were planted.

TI: They were planted.

FS: Hired by the higher ups. And there were a lot of 'em. And we knew who were there. And then one of 'em ratted on my dad, that my dad was the instigator, reporting white people taking stuff out, so they pointed out my dad. And they were gonna separate my dad, but then the riot started at just that moment. That's according to my dad. And there was a whole mess. I mean, people got in trouble with the inu, like, "He was doing this or he was doing that against the camp regulation." And so they were picked up or questioned. There was going to have a mass movement, all these bad elements, and put into another place. And before this happened, the Japanese were pretty smart. They found out when they were gonna get picked up, so they had a riot before. So the mess hall riot, the inu riot was all compounded into one big mess. The whole camp was in turmoil.

TI: And so during this time, what happened to the Koreans? Were they singled out and...

FS: They got caught. One of 'em got caught and he ran into the recreation room, and a bunch of guys went into the, on top of the tables, where the typewriter, and threw the typewriter at the guy, he was in a corner like this. I seen that happen, and I know who instigated that. The guy just told me not too long ago. He says, "I was the one that threw the typewriter."

TI: Because these informants were, like, turning people in like the gambling or...

FS: Yeah, ratting on people. That's how they taught us. Up to then, the warden, they let us go because we were giving them bribes. I don't know how much we paid, the man was paying them off. There was one guy that came around our area, he was in charge. So, you know, with yakuza, they don't let things go. They give five bucks a day or whatever, so the guy just looked the other way. But you could go so far. When the inu ratted, that's when it became an issue. Until then, it was kept quiet. Everybody was, I was dealing, and a guy was giving a bribe, my boss was making a profit, it was a happy family until the inu incident.

TI: And then what happened after that? So after the riots, how did things change at Santa Anita?

FS: Well, I think internally, I was not too familiar. I don't know if there was any instigators got caught, I don't know what happened to the inus, you know. I really didn't know. I think I was just on the outside too much. I didn't penetrate to the inner circle, so I didn't know. But then, by then, we got sent to Heart Mountain anyway.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So let's talk about Heart Mountain then.

FS: Okay.

BT: Before we go to Heart Mountain, you had described earlier, when you were in Santa Anita, that you were collecting gambling debts?

FS: That's how I started. I was a, according to the yakuza boss, he said I was the best collector.

BT: So these were gambling debts from before the war?

FS: No, current, inside the camp. When I was running it, we had certain people that charged, and we can give 'em so much credit, five bucks or three bucks or eight bucks, okay. And when they ran out of that, they had to sign an IOU. I put that in for my daily take. So then when that gets pretty big, somebody had to go collect that money. So when they, man hired me first, he told me to go collect the money, "I'll give you the address, barrack number." So I went to the barrack. Well, I'm pretty smart up here. I got me a softball bat, which is short, and made it shorter. The handle part was skinny, I just cut the big end. And I put that in, somehow, into my shirt, under my coat, and then I went and knocked on the door with a baseball bat. And answered and I said, "Your name," well, like Tanaka. The guy said, "Yeah." I said, "Well, you know you owe my boss so much. You owe him five bucks. Do you want to pay it?" "I ain't got no money." I said, "Well, you better have some money, because this is the day you're supposed to pay. Or I'm going to have to come and get something from you, collateral." So he said, "Kuso namaiki na," you know, "fresh kid." So I'd take the bat out and go hit the table. I could do -- I told him, "Easy way or hard way? Dochi?" Then I go like this with the bat. He knew what I was gonna do, so he'd come out and pay. See how smart I was? The other collectors used to come back to the boss saying, "He didn't give me no money." No money. Everyplace I went, I got the money. I didn't hit nobody, but I made sure. And you look at that person in the eye. Don't look at what, look him straight in the eye and say, "You're gonna pay today?" All right, now. Then, "Chotto matte." "Wait." So he'd go there in the corner someplace, here comes three bucks, four bucks. I take that and give them a receipt. Next guy, I used to collect maybe about twenty, thirty dollars a day. I'm not kidding you. They were small money, three dollar, five dollar, you know, four dollar. Some are two dollar. Today, you laugh at that kind of money.

TI: Now, were you ever turned in or anything for doing this?

FS: Huh?

TI: Did anyone try to turn you in for doing this kind of thing?

FS: They better not. I had the bat. And besides, the gambling, they're guilty as much as me. So I did that collecting for about two or three weeks, and every place he sent me, I got the money somehow. So he gave me a job being the House, running the beans, you know. So now I ran the table and all the debt, and paid it off. And then when the day ended, I collect all the, put it in a brown bag, and give to the boss with the receipts, all the IOUs.

TI: Now, what did you do with the money you made? You said you got a couple bucks a day or something. What would you --

FS: When I went to Santa Fe, I had so much money, but most of it was dollar bill and five dollar bill. Yeah. You know, I had to make a belt underneath my coat. That was the only way I could put it. I went to Japan like that.

TI: So you would just always carry the money around with you.

FS: Yeah. I can't, I can't bury it. Somebody watching me, "Ah, there it is." [Laughs] So I had to carry it. So I tried to change the money as much as possible, but I couldn't find twenty dollar bill in those days. God, ten dollars was hard to get by. Five dollars was most, mostly.

TI: Now, if you wanted to, was there anything you could buy with this money?

FS: Nothing. Can't buy nothing. Got everything, cigarettes. When I was in Santa Fe, oh, when I was in Heart Mountain, you couldn't buy cigarettes. It was rationed. They were hard to get. And the only kind of cigarette you got, the cheap off brand like Domino cigarettes. You know what I mean. Wings, for instance, there's a brand called Wings. There's no Lucky Strike, no Chesterfield Camel. But when I went into Santa Fe, then we got, it was a different camp. Department of Justice, not WRA.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: Okay, before we go there, let's go to Heart Mountain. You said, so from here, you went to Heart Mountain. How was Heart Mountain...

FS: Compare?

TI: Yeah, compare.

FS: Heart Mountain was a good camp. Why? A lot of people don't know this. It was run by Germans. German population was in that area, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota. A lot of German was in that area. So when the government wanted people to work in camp, white people, they asked for you. And who applied? German people. That's all there was. So they came to work in our camp. They were the head of the, they ran the camp.

TI: And so why were Germans good?

FS: Better?

TI: Yeah, better.

FS: I think they sympathized with Japan because Japan and Germany were buddy-buddies. So we had, there were no food shortage, I mean, they didn't short change the food. We had good food in Heart Mountain. And then there was a "no-no," you remember the "no-no" started and protests? Why was it that Heart Mountain, all those very bad elements were controlled? Why couldn't Tule Lake do the same thing they did in Heart Mountain? I started thinking about this, and I started thinking about that when I was in Japan.

TI: And so when you say "no-nos," were you talking about the draft resisters, the Heart Mountain draft resisters?

FS: Yeah, draft resisters, "no-nos," Frank Emi.

TI: Okay, the Fair Mountain, or the Fair Play Committee.

FS: Fifty, a hundred people. And they were doing a lot of drastic things. But you know what? The government told -- I heard this from somebody. He says, "We'll allow your protests, you can protest all you want. Just inform us what you're going to do. We're going to go along with you. We allow protests, we allow hunger, whatever you want to do, but just let us know. We want to protect you. If you get sick, we want to put you in a hospital. We don't want to leave you out there. If you fight with another Japanese, you get hit on the head? Who's going to take care of you?" So that's the reason. I think that's the reason why in Heart Mountain, there was no incident like Tule Lake.

TI: But you're saying that they allowed protests.

FS: Yes, they allowed it.

TI: But by allowing it, you felt it was more controlled.

FS: Provided you tell the people, the white people what you're doing. You're going to have a protest, certain date, and the topic is going to be this. So the government, "Go ahead and do it." So they let 'em do it. That's why those people in Heart Mountain had a pretty fair run of the thing, don't you think? Compared to, I mean, have you made a study on that?

TI: I have. I have interviewed people from there.

FS: Okay, didn't they tell you that they didn't have all that complication with the white people?

TI: It may have come more from, yeah, the community than...

FS: The white administrator.

TI: Yeah, no one's ever told it to me this way, so this is different.

FS: Yeah. But that's the truth. And did you know something about the football players?

TI: No, tell me about the football.

FS: They went to play the Worland High School, and there were a couple of Japanese on there. They were railroad workers' son, like my dad, their son. And they were on the football team, they couldn't speak Japanese. They couldn't understand Japanese. So the camp guys, all the Nisei that, on the football team in camp, a lot of them could speak Japanese in some way or another, saying, "You bakatare," you know what I mean. So, migi, hidari, manaka, simple things they knew. So verbally, they were making the play as they ran it, no huddle. And then on the other side, the white people and the Japanese didn't know what the hell this guy's saying. So they just ran crazy over there.

TI: So they're doing all these verbal audibles on the field in Japanese.

FS: Yeah. You had to be there, you had to hear about it firsthand to really enjoy this. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, that's a good story.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: But going back to the, like the Heart Mountain resisters, did you ever talk with any of them or know about their story or anything like that?

FS: I did. You know, I didn't join too much because at that time, my dad and my family were signatories to the exchange boat Gripsholm. Remember that boat?

TI: Yes.

FS: So we signed up for that. So in a way, my dad said, "Don't commit yourself, because you're gonna lose your chance to go on the exchange. (...) Be a good boy." So he didn't want us to mess around.

TI: So pretty early, your parents had decided, "We're going back to Japan."

FS: Yeah. So this is (1943) that he signed up for Gripsholm from Heart Mountain.

TI: Now, how did you feel about that? I mean, here you had grown up...

FS: Well, it's sort of like December 7th. I mean, I'm going to, my father and mother, they want to go to Japan. Well, I didn't know. There was no challenge, I had no idea. Really, really. I'm not trying to make up stories, because that would be a lie. But my feeling was, "So what? We're going to Japan, so what?" It'd be maybe better than this, you know, better than camp. It's getting monotonous, maybe change your luck. So just like, what do you say, there were a lot of people that was in that resister was not city boys. They're farmers, Portland, came from Portland, Seattle. Frank Emi was the only one I knew from L.A. All the other young people were from different areas, so I couldn't tie 'em in. Frank Emi, I couldn't tie him. Well, how come he was older than the draft age, and he was married, and he had a kid. So why did he become a protester? He was exempt. You know, he had a bona fide exemption. Why did he want to mess around being "no-no" and draft resister? He couldn't be drafted anyway.

TI: So that just didn't make sense to you?

FS: That's right. Those things didn't make sense to me, so why should I, even if I wanted to, get into an organization that didn't have no cause? No firm, "Yeah, yeah, they put us in camp and they deny citizenship." Oh, that's an everyday story. But there's nothing to say that, "I want to join."

TI: So you were looking for that more personal, like, "What would it do for me personally?"

FS: Yeah, "What would it do to me personally to me where I can contribute?" I just didn't want to be a member. So anyway, that was part of the protests.

TI: No, I get that.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

BT: Do you want to talk a little bit about your schooling? You were about sixteen years old, seventeen.

FS: Yeah, yeah. I went to school... well, you know when the war broke out, and then January, February, the school situation for us was chaotic at the best. So we didn't know. And then, we were hearing things early that we were going to be sent to camp. So I was taking my lunch and going to school and fooling around. I didn't attend classes. [Laughs] Ditching. Yeah, I was ditching for about a month or two. My folks didn't know, but me and a couple of my other friends, we used to go fool around. We didn't have no money, so we used to go, we couldn't go to a guy's house, so we would go down to the playground and sit around and play the carom, remember the carom game? You use a stick? Played that, and just generally quit, killed time until going home.

BT: And so you didn't go to school after Pearl Harbor?

FS: Oh, no, I went on and off.

BT: And then in Santa Anita, there wasn't...

FS: No school, no school. Because the camp was short-lived.

BT: And then Heart Mountain?

FS: Heart Mountain they had school.

TI: But it sounded like he ditched school, though.

FS: No. In Heart Mountain, I went to school because I met a lady from Santa Clara. She was about three years older than me, and she was teaching typing class. She was good-looking. [Laughs] I made out with her. I flunked class so I could stay second (term). I flunked class purposely.

TI: Frank, you were a bad boy.

FS: I wouldn't think so. And she told me one day, she said, "Frank," she said, "I like you, but you're too young for me.

BT: She'd get in trouble. So did you ever graduate from high school?

FS: No, never did. No time to go to school. Well, at Tule Lake they had school, but they were telling me that it's not worth going because there's nothing worthwhile studying.

BT: Well, I guess in Tule Lake, by the time you were there, there were only the Japanese schools.

FS: They had English school. They had Newell High School. They had it. And I started to go there, then I found out that I have to go two years or three years to get diploma. Then I found out, in my life, I started counting my age and everything. You know, I said, "Frank, you must have been pretty stupid. Because you're going to be nineteen by this calculation to finish high school." And you're supposed to get out of high school at seventeen years old. I said, "Where did you mess up?" So I quit. I didn't go. I was too embarrassed.

TI: So you decided, because you got so far behind, you'll just drop out rather than go forward.

FS: Yeah. And people told me that they didn't learn nothing anyway. It's a waste of time.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: Before we leave Heart Mountain, how would you compare Heart Mountain in terms of just environment and atmosphere compared to the other camps that you...

FS: Other camps? I would say Heart Mountain was one of the best camp I was in. Totally one of the best. Why? It was run by Germans. Food was good, they didn't cheat, and there was only a fence in the front. You walk to the side, you could go to Powell, Cody, you go to Heart Mountain and get some rattlesnake and give it to the Issei people, and they make that teriyaki rattlesnake. You ever eat teriyaki rattlesnake? Oh, that's better than chicken. Tastes like chicken but better. I ate a lot of rattlesnake.

TI: And during this time, did your father continue working as a chef or cook?

FS: Yeah, he was working in the mess hall just to keep going. My mom didn't work at all. And then Heart Mountain, I got a job as foreman of the gas station, you know, you pump gas for all the vehicles in camp. And people that come in from the outside on their own car, remember there were gas rations? I used to sell five gallon of gas for x-amount of money.

TI: So this was kind of on the side, you would just...

FS: Oh, black market. I just asked, "You need gas?" Said, "Yeah," the guy said, "yeah. You got ration book?" I said, "I don't need ration, but if you want five gallon, cost you so much. But bring the can back. If you don't, got no deposit." I had a business going. And then, I had a better business. Since I was running the gas station, I could take the truck and take the ration, and a lot of needed stuff to Yellowstone Park. And we had camp people working in the Yellowstone Park dismantling buildings, CCC buildings. They're all nuts and bolts, easy, prefab, and they put 'em on trucks. But I brought food for them to eat, and whatever they need. And then brought things back, loaded section of the building. And then I stopped in Cody, the nearby town, just before, start with a whisky. White Horse... let's see, White Horse, what the hell was it? Hague & Hague, I remember those. And I bought all the scotch out because one guy wanted scotch. He says, "I know about ten other people that'll buy it." So they even gave me money ahead of time. And it was only $2.50 a bottle. So I bought all the scotch and sold it for, I forgot what it, I think it was something like fifteen bucks a bottle.

BT: So how were you able to sneak it back into camp?

FS: I had this big fifty-five gallon drum, I cut the top and put it upside down and put all the liquid in. All you had to do was... and the guard didn't check everything anyway. They just hit the top, boom, boom, boom, "Oh, it sounds hollow, go ahead." They didn't look. So I made fifteen, twenty bottles. At first I only had five or six bottle because I didn't want to bring too much. Second trip, I got double, third trip, I ran out of scotch and whisky. Canadian Club, you know, all the common whiskey. Jim Bean, I cleaned the liquor store out. Then I had to go get brandy because the guy in the camp said, "Well, whiskey naindattara. Get me brandy." So I had a good business going.

TI: Now, previously, when you worked with the gangsters, they would pay off guards and things like this. Did you have to do that in Heart Mountain?

FS: No, we didn't have no gambling there.

TI: No, not gambling, but for you to even do this kind of...

FS: Do that stuff? No, no, I was alone. I was a lone operator, so I didn't want to bribe somebody to make it big. When you bribe somebody, that person's going to tell somebody, you know what I mean. Before you know it, there's fifteen people after you. So as long as you keep your mouth shut and play innocent, all the whiskey I sold, I don't know how much I made. I made a lot of good money. Oh, that was good money.


TI: So at Heart Mountain, where would you keep your money?

FS: I had a hiding place. A good place.

TI: So you can tell us now because... [laughs]. I'm curious, where a good hiding place...

FS: Inside the gas station, gas station are concrete floor. But there was one section where there was, it came in sections, squares. So lifted the bottom, and then I experimented. If you put the lid on and it's hollow, it makes a different noise. So what I did was lifted it up, made a small hole, and put a, I found a tin can with a cover, put the money in there and put it in there. No dirt or nothing, just sealed it, and then put the concrete square back. Then I hit it, same noise. So I kept it there until I was ready to go to Tule Lake.

TI: And so you were able to get in this building, and be there alone so no one could...

FS: Yeah, I was a foreman.

TI: ...see you.

FS: Yeah, I was a foreman, so I had two other people working for me. See, we did a lot of other stuff besides furnish gas. We did lube job, you know, lubing. So mostly trucks. The camp car, the big shots drove that, but they went to Powell, Cody, wherever they lived. So they served the car over there. And there were some white people that lived in our camp, but most of the womenfolks went out. They don't want to live near Japanese. [Laughs]

TI: So you, earlier, you talked about some of these gambling in other camps. Did you see any gambling at Heart Mountain?

FS: No.

TI: And why was that? Why not --

FS: Because the big shot wasn't there. Nobody to tell me what the hell to do. I didn't want to do it on my own, I couldn't get the customer. And you need a figurehead, and then the people will come. So the yakuza boss, he was a figurehead. People knew that if he said there's gambling, they know there was gambling. If I say it, "What the hell does he know about gambling?" Who's gonna believe me? I couldn't get customers. But when I was in Tule Lake, it's the same thing. I couldn't get gambling started, but it was a big camp. And there was a lot of gambling going on, but I didn't know who was doing that. See, my yakuza boss was in Santa Fe all this time. Now, if he was in Heart Mountain, maybe. If he was in Tule Lake, maybe gambling. But here, when I went to Santa Fe, he saw me, he came out and he said, "Oh, my lost brother, lost son," you know that. Oh, man, he was waiting for me. He said, "Matteta," "Waiting for you."

TI: Oh, that's good. Well, we'll get to that.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: Let's, so from Heart Mountain, any other memories or stories before we move on?

FS: Not really. I went outside to work.

TI: Tell me about that.

FS: I went on sugar beets. I went with a boy that was a farmer from Covina, west Covina, farming. And he told me, "I know how to do sugar beets. So I'll help, you and me, we'll make a team. I'll take the load." So I did the best I could, but gee, I couldn't keep up with him topping sugar beets.

TI: So I'm curious, why would you want to do that make money when you have --

FS: Just to go out. To go out, instead of being in camp. I didn't have a girlfriend, nothing to keep me in camp. So I thought it'd be a better chance, more fun going out of camp. And I found out it's all work. No fun in that. So I came back -- no, no, I came back in camp, and then there was a job open in Cozad, Nebraska. So I went to work there. And I was there, I don't know, a month or two, then the superintendent, he came back from retirement. And Cozad, Nebraska, was Armor company. You know how big Armor is. So that place had sheep. It was a sheep ranch. A hundred thousand head of sheep. [Laughs] Yeah. And they had five hundred Japanese from all the camps, Rohwer, Jerome, every camp that had people. So this superintendent, for some reason, he picked me to be his assistant.

TI: This is at this...

FS: Place.


FS: Yeah, this ranch. So why did he pick me out of five hundred? I don't know. He says, "You gotta help me." So I did timekeeping, then I did requisition work, then I went to, outside of camp to the town of Cozad to pick up things, you know. Then I went once a month or twice a month to, what's that capital?

TI: Not Cody?

FS: No, no, in Nebraska. What was it? There was a capital? Anyway, I went there.

BT: Lincoln.

FS: No, no. Lincoln was this side. Cozad was the place where we were working. Okay, anyway, I went there with a .38 pistol to pick up the payroll. I had a gun.

TI: So they gave you a gun.

FS: The superintendent told me to, "Take this gun because you're going to get, I don't want you to get held up. Do you know how to use it?" I said, "Yeah, I know how to use it." I didn't, but I told him, "Yeah." So I put a .38 here and went down, I had a dog, sheepdog. I finally had a dog of my own, and the superintendent said, "That dog is no good no more. He can't be a sheepdog." I said, "Why?" He said, "He's used to you. He's gonna watch you instead of sheep." So he did. He followed me everywhere. So I'd take the dog and go to Nebraska, to that place in Nebraska to pick up the payroll. I used to come back with maybe, not that much money when you really come to it. The farm use money, the labor money, pay all the Japanese help, and there was white people working, too. I think there's about forty or fifty whites. So there was a big, big place. They had a mess hall, feed the whole people. They fed the Japanese and whites separately. They had a white cook for this side, Japanese cook for... so I had to make the requisition for him. He could do it, but he's too slow. He was so old. So he pretended he's a big shot, but he said, "Frank, I can't do this work no more. You've got to help me." I said, "Why don't you get that white guy?" He said, "I don't trust him."

TI: So, Frank, what is it about you, do you think that people trusted you so much that they would kind of single you out...

FS: I don't know. I don't know. I really don't know. And then, you know, I did that work for him and he said, "You know, you'd make a good superintendent right now. You could do my work." But he said, "You know what? Better yet, I requisitioned to the head office in Chicago, and you're gonna go to the Armour Institute of Technology." And that became the University of Illinois. He wanted me to go for college. I said, "I can't go to college. I didn't even finish high school. He said, "No way. When you get to that school, there's no entrance exam. All you do, from day one, you go to class and they know, you tell 'em you're from Armour, you get a special dispensation, they call it. And you got room and board, and you got a nice job that's gonna pay you x-money a month. So you got no problem with money, you got nice lodging. As a matter of fact, when you get into lodging, there's going to be a lady to take care of your room, do the laundry and clean your place. Because you're an employee of Armour. You're a future superintendent."

TI: So that sounds like a pretty good offer.

FS: So I says, "No high school diploma," "No, no, don't worry about those things." Once you get in there, you're under the care of Armour. 'Cause they own that school. They do what they want. So gratis, huh, the word gratis. I went in, no tests. I could have gone, and a month later, FBI came and said, "You gotta go back to camp." 'Cause they found out I signed up for the Gripsholm with my dad. So we were "enemy aliens" now. See, to be able to go back to the Gripsholm, you've got to be classified "enemy aliens." You can't go back to Japan as an American citizen. But I was a minor, though. See, my dad was the head of the family, so we went under his name. So he was the "enemy alien."

TI: Oh, so the FBI came for you to bring you back to, what, Heart Mountain, and then sent to Tule Lake.

FS: No, no. Just back to Heart Mountain.

TI: Heart Mountain.

FS: I can't go work outside.

TI: Okay.

FS: Oh, that superintendent, he was mad at the FBI. And then he said, "Frank, I want to talk to you." So I went into the room, he got a hold of me. He cried. He cried. I was so touched by him. And he said, "Didn't I treat you like a son?" I said, "Yeah, maybe more." He gave me a lot of leeway. "And I did everything I wanted to do here." He said, "No, not what you want, you did what the company wants you to do." That's why, that's when I found out he recommended me for school. Then the only catch was, he said, "Once you go to that school, you graduate, you have to serve so many years in the Armor chain, different places. And then once you serve that chain and you want to get out, you could, because obligation's over." But there was a contract, I have to sign that. It wasn't bad, I'd get four years of schooling with a B.A.

TI: So if the FBI didn't come, do you think you would have done that?

FS: I would have done that, yes. Because he already committed me. He sent my name in, and it was approved by the Armour corporation, big shot. So I was really mad. I thought that here was a golden opportunity, I could serve. And he told me about Armour, he said, "Once you get out of school, you just go under an understudy, they teach you what they want you to do, you learn the Armour method. So it's nothing what you want to do, it's what they want you to do. Rules and regulations, you abide by that, you've got a lifetime job.

TI: Wow. And it's just amazing how life throws these curves at you, and you have this opportunity.

FS: And out. The only time I didn't have nothing good was at Tule Lake.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

BT: Okay. So, Frank, what are your recollections of leaving Heart Mountain and going to Tule Lake?

FS: Well, the only regret, and even today, I think about it very often. I just met a girl about two months before I was sent out, and her name was Barbara Tachibana. She's from Gilroy. And I found out through the museum, and this is kind of complicated, but she's a widow. And the person that told me said I should go see her. But I don't want to do that, you know. Fifty-some years, sixty years now, we're talking about. But anyway, she was such a nice lady, girl, and we were on a train, and I could still see her. I remember seeing her running along the side of the train waving. I'll never forget that. You know what I mean. Somebody running along a train and waving at me and saying, "Don't forget to write, don't forget to write." That was goodbye. I hate to leave that place. That was my only recollection of Heart Mountain.

BT: Did you stay in touch with her?

FS: No, because I knew my future, I was gonna go to Japan. I was already committed. So I think that's the reason why we got sent to Tule Lake.

BT: Well, it was clear that your parents had requested repatriation. And I guess it wasn't clear in the earlier part of the interview whether you had signed the "loyalty questionnaire"?

FS: I don't know. You know, it's very confusing because I don't even know when I turned in my citizenship paper. Because when I was in Tule Lake, I didn't know where the paper were.

BT: Oh, you mean the renunciation forms?

FS: No, the citizenship paper itself that you're supposed to turn in. I didn't even know where it was, I don't even know if I sent it in or not. And then the "loyalty question," is that one "no-yes"?

BT: Yes.

FS: I don't even remember signing that or answering that. 'Cause I got sent from here to there, remember, sent back to camp. And I think it was all in that one little period. So I really don't know what happened. I mean, maybe the... and the museum don't have my records. They only have it up to Santa Anita.

BT: So when your family was assigned housing at Tule Lake, do you remember what the block was like? Was it mostly...

FS: Block 16... no, Barrack... I think it was 69. Was that the block? 69? I think so. There was a number like that. 69 Block.

BT: And so where were most of those people from?

TI: Southern Cal mainly. There was a family from west L.A., Kawakami. Next door neighbor, Fujinami from central Cal, Minami's place. And gee, next barrack was, next block was Yamakido. Remember Yamakido? Charlie, Tad, Joe. No, Joe wasn't there.

BT: Is that how you knew the Yamakidos, or did you know them before.

FS: I knew Charlie before the war through judo. See, he used to be a Harbor City member, so we used to go tournaments, and I used to have to face him. He was a real stubborn man, judo.

BT: So at Tule Lake, then, the area that you were living in was mostly people who were segregated, right, to Tule Lake?

FS: All of 'em were segregated from different camps. Manzanar was way on that north side, one end.

BT: "Alaska."

FS: Yeah, yeah. They even had a billet, a separate place for 'em. One ward. That's how many people came. Actually, in that ward, most of the people that were sent from Hawaii to Manzanar, they were all intact when they came to Tule Lake. They were all hard-heads. They call them "ishiatama."

BT: And so how did you get along with a lot of the folks that were living in that block?

FS: We mind our own business. And like Kawakami, Tets, I met him through the camp and his sister, two sisters. The brother was more friendly, and the sister was kind of aloof. I'd say, "Hi," they look the other way. Typical Nisei; high nose. And then Yamakido's sister was too young, and then I know this guy Jim Kai, you ever heard of him? He had a sister, but I could never get into her head. I couldn't get friendly with her. She was a nice-looking lady, but I just couldn't, I don't know. And then who else was it? Most of the other people were Kibei. A man named Inouye, he was from Portland. And I met him because I was doing judo in camp, and he was one of my instructors.

BT: Oh, so which brings us to how did you occupy your time when you were in Tule Lake?

FS: I didn't work. Actually, there was no work.

BT: The newcomers.

FS: There was no work; there were too many people. And then there was always trouble going on in the coal crew, mess hall, Kibei bunch, you know what I mean, here and there. Oh, they had a killing. Do you remember that? The canteen manager got killed?

BT: Right.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

BT: Well, so what was your recollection of all of the turmoil going on in Tule Lake?

FS: Tule Lake?

BT: Yeah, after segregation.

FS: You know, I was told by this guy... what the hell was his name? Anyway, he was a Kibei, and I met him in Heart Mountain -- oh, Seibo Ochi. And he told me that Tule Lake, there's a lot of funny people, lot of groups, they're changing names: Sokoku Hoshidan, Kinkyo, all kinds of different groups. And you don't know which group is doing what. They're all trying to rise on top of each other.

BT: These are the pro-Japan groups you're talking about.

FS: Yeah, yeah. So he told me, he said, "Don't mess with 'em. Whatever your dad do, well, you have to do it because he's your father. So if he puts you into this, just go along. You're not going to attend this stuff." But he said, "Don't get involved, or you're gonna be like, end up in, getting hit on the head."

BT: Well, to go back a little bit, you were in Tule Lake during martial law, right?

FS: Yeah.

BT: And do you recall your barracks being searched or the camp getting shut down?

FS: I remember the guards going around, army, army people. But you know those, the, Yamane's problem? He had problem in the, certain area?

BT: Oh, when he was...

FS: Farm problem and they had this problem. A lot of that was away from us. It didn't come to our locality.

BT: Because you were in the far end of the camp, right? And you were not in the motor pool area during the time...

FS: No, that was way over here. So we didn't hear a lot of the news because none of the people in our area was involved here. People that was involved here was all the Kibei people, troublemakers. Lot of Manzanar people, and people like Yamane Tokio.

BT: Well, you were living in the group where a lot of the Manzanar people were.

FS: No. They were opposite.

BT: Oh.

FS: Way like this.

BT: And so did you hear about the Jerome people?

FS: Jerome?

BT: Yeah, from Jerome.

FS: Well, what were they doing?

BT: There were several of the pro-Japan groups.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

FS: The worst case was that Block 7 area. That's where all the Kibei hang around. And that's where all the trouble started, and that's where this guy that was running the canteen or something...

BT: Hitomi.

FS: Yeah, yeah, he got killed, stabbed.

BT: So what did you hear, why he got killed?

FS: I heard from, who the heck told me? Mr. Inouye, the judo instructor, he told me. He says, "Don't fool around with the Kibei. Just because I'm a Kibei, that don't mean you should get to know Kibei. Keep away from the Kibei. 'Cause they don't like Nisei anyway, but don't get involved." So I said, "Why?" He said, "Well, do you remember that canteen no oyaji?" "Yeah." "Korosaleta." So I said, "Well, did Nisei people do it?" "No, no, that's Kibei did it." And so he had told me never go around that Block 7, and never get to know the Kibei.

BT: Well, why would they have done that, though?

FS: To get control of the camp. And he was in charge of the canteen, so they want, there's money there. And that's what they're looking for. See, these Kibei were, they didn't have no jobs, they were fooling around. When they're fooling around and looking for trouble, they create problems. And the more they talk about it, the more bigger the problems gets. And pretty soon, "Well, let's kill him. Maybe he got money." That kind of stuff. But I don't think they even found the guy.

BT: Right, they didn't.

FS: No.

BT: They didn't do much of an investigation.

FS: No, they didn't do no investigation, no. None at all. Because we don't get the news. See, we're kind of on the other side of the fence. So all the things that are going around in the Tule Lake camp, "wasshoi" people, they're all Kibei and Issei instigated, started.

BT: Well, the Kibei was a pretty large group in Tule Lake.

FS: Yes, there were a lot of them.

BT: And it was a pretty complicated, diverse group. And so you had mentioned earlier there were Kibei doing gambling?

FS: Over there, but we didn't know where. But there were just Kibei and Kibei doing gambling. So they're, I don't know what kind of gambling they were doing either. They're not the typical Japanese. I really don't know, I never went in there. And then I had no business going there in the first place, you know what I mean? I mean, saying, "What are you doing here?" And they shove a knife into you. No, no, no. And there are people from Manzanar, very well influenced people, that he was a judo no black belt. And he was almost like one of my best (friend)... what I mean, opponent. And I got to know him real good, and he used to tell me, "Don't fool around with the Kibei guys in that 7 area." And don't go down to the administration area, all those guys are having trouble. If you want to get hit on the head, go, but keep out." We got to Tule Lake, and our purpose, he says, "I don't know about you, but my folks want to go back to Japan." That's why we're here. But we don't want to jeopardize that, we don't want to join groups and things to jeopardize that. We could get in the wrong group.

BT: Well, did you hear anything or have any experience with people that were, like the Koreans in Santa Anita, the inu spies? Did you have any experience with that?

FS: No.

BT: Or ever hear about anybody doing that?

FS: When the riot started, and they were pinpointed, and they were ganged up and almost killed, that's the time when I first met that guy.

BT: Which guy?

FS: One Korean guy, and that was at Santa Anita, though. Remember, that threw the typewriter at him?

BT: Uh-huh.

FS: Dozens of typewriter. I think they killed him.

BT: What about in Tule Lake, though?

FS: No. I think by then, they didn't want inu in camp. The biggest troublemaker would be, I'll tell you who they were. Most of that didn't come from the Kibei, it came from the JACL.

BT: I don't know if there were many JACL people in Tule Lake after segregation.

FS: Oh. Because this guy Tayama...

BT: Oh, right, in Manzanar.

FS: Yeah. He was a real, real troublemaker, okay. And the Matsuoka brothers, they were the troublemakers. And the JACL sent a team, eight members, to Japan, to get all the repats fired.

BT: Oh, we want you to talk about that story, but we'll... later.

FS: Oh, okay. [Laughs]

BT: And as far as the gambling and drinking, that was just something that you were not a part of.

FS: No, not in Tule Lake. Because without the head man, I couldn't function. It's like, where am I going to get the customer? I'm going to need the money, where am I gonna get the money?

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: So, Frank, because, I mean, you said you did some judo in Tule Lake, and you were good at judo. Were you ever recruited by the pro-Japan groups? Because they saw you, here's this strong, healthy young man who's going to Japan?

FS: No, never. Even my, the instructor, Mr. Inouye, he was in that dan. I remember two or three of 'em. But he never recruited me. Yeah. So that was a funny thing, huh? He could have got me for something. And Yamane, I met him through somebody in Manzanar, I mean, Tule Lake, but he never talked about it to me. So I don't know what he was doing in Tule Lake.

BT: So how was it that you got involved with the pro-Japan groups, and which group?

FS: In Tule Lake?

BT: Yeah.

FS: I didn't. The only thing I did was my dad signed me up for one of them dan, I don't know which one. It's the one that went pro-Japan, the repat group. Which one, I don't know.

BT: Probably the young one.

TI: So I think maybe where we're curious was eventually you were picked up to go to Santa Fe. And you read a lot about this, usually they're described as pro-Japan people.

FS: Yeah.

TI: So I guess we're trying to get a sense of why would you get picked up?

FS: Okay. I told her a couple of times, I think because my dad signed up for the Gripsholm. We were classified "enemy aliens," the family was. So that's the reason why we got sent out of Heart Mountain right away. And then from Tule Lake, I think that was the reason why I went to Santa Fe. Because I was not, officially, I was not an active member of the dan. I didn't take part in none of those stuff. Maybe I was a member, but...

BT: Did you exercise at all?

FS: No. I didn't want to get up early in the morning, that was stupid.

TI: So it almost sounds... whether it was a mistake or....

FS: No, it was not a mistake. I think it was because of my dad signing for the Gripsholm exchange boat.

BT: Well, in the first group that was picked up and sent to Santa Fe, that was a fairly elite group of members.

FS: Yeah, I was one of 'em.

BT: Yeah. And so that's why I'm wondering, what do you think the reasons were, why you were picked up? Because just to be signed up to go with your parents to Japan wouldn't have made you, or wouldn't have identified you to the army.

FS: Oh, no, I think they were already getting ready to classify people going back to Japan from here to here, condensing it. See, Tule Lake had how many people, twenty thousand at the end? So by putting me here in Santa Fe, there's only, what, five thousand? But these are known people that's gonna go someplace. Because people that were supposed to go to Japan, that talked about it a lot, emphasized it, preached about it, never went to Bismarck or Santa Fe. And I know quite a few. 'Cause I met 'em after the war, and I accused 'em, you know, of short-changing us.

BT: So did you meet Tokio Yamane as a result of his involvement with the Seinendan?

FS: No. I met, I met him in Santa Fe, next barrack bed. [Laughs] He was my bedmate. And I think I told you, I don't know if I told somebody, all that time I was in, I think it was about, almost a year, huh? Santa Fe. Huh? He never talked about the Manzanar, or the Tule Lake incident. So I never knew about it until I started reading. I started reading his history in magazines, you know, Yamane told me he was there, he got hit, he got brain clobbered. When he was there, he never talked about that. And that's what I can't understand. A bedmate, he could have talked in his sleep. But all during the working hours, lot of times I'm not working, I'll be laying down reading a magazine, he'll come in, and he'll say, "Hey, dou ka, Sumida, how've you been?" I said, "Okay," and that's it. And then toward the end, when we start getting ready to go to Japan, you know how rumors start to fly. And he's telling me all about Japan, he went to Masho chugakkou, and then he lived in Dambara Nakamachi. I remember good, huh? 'Cause he'd tell me all the time, so I remember. And then he went to, he went to Fresno High School, he was one of the track stars. And he went to the all-state champion. He mentioned those things, but never about Hoshidan.

TI: Did you ever have conversations -- did anyone ever ask you why you were with that group? I mean, amongst, like, the Isseis...

FS: Oh, yeah, people asked me, but they never figured me for that. Even while I was in Japan, we get together, we'd never talk about the Hoshidan. For some reason, I think there was no interest. Like Yamakido... Tad, Charlie, I think Charlie used to attend the session in the morning. And I think Tad wanted me to go with him, I didn't go. And there was another kid named Yamasaki Glen, he died. You ever heard the name mentioned?

BT: No.

FS: He died about five, six years ago. He was kind of a very (nice), he was a Banning High School boy. And he was a good ballplayer. He was at Heart Mountain, and I remade, re-met him in Japan. He was working as a house personnel for some colonel, and driving his car. So anyway, but all these people were tied up with the Hoshidan but never took part. So I think there was a lot of members in the Hoshidan rank, but they never went to the meeting or to the exercise. I know Yamakido was complaining to Charlie about, "How come we have to get up early in the morning and go exercise?" It was kind of stupid.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

BT: Well, what do you think the appeal was? There were a lot of young people in the Seinendan and the Joshidan. And so what do you think the appeal was?

FS: The, why? I think the folks, mainly. I would say mainly, the folks made 'em do it. Most of the people that were in the dan, when I recollect who the member was, a lot of the members, it's just like Heart Mountain, the 442, good example. The 442 members were not Hollywood High School area, not Los Angeles city, not me. They were all from the country, you know? Look at the roster, the names. Portland, Oregon, Wapato, you know? You know that Wapato area. Or they were from some inaka place, Gardena. That's a farm town. But nobody from the city went into 442 if you look at the roster. Babe Nomura, you heard of that? Babe Nomura? He was very active. Tosh Asano, you've heard of him. He never was in there. But all the boys from the country went in. Why? Because people from the country, you could get 'em as a group. But the city people were too independent. They didn't want to be in the group, they wanted to be for themselves. They didn't want to be in the group. They want to be for themselves. So that was the reason why. The Hoshidan was the same thing. They joined, "You're in it, I'm in it." But Yamakido went, I didn't go. Charlie went, I didn't go. I think Jim Kai wanted to go, but he thought, "Aw, kind of stupid." So he said, "Hey, Frank, you gonna go?" I said, "No, I ain't going." So we didn't go. So there was five or six people that I know are real pros that didn't attend these things. And to us, it was kind of stupid, really, when it comes down to it.

BT: But while you didn't buy into their thinking...

FS: Yeah, that's basically.

BT: And the Yamakidos, though, didn't go to Santa Fe.

FS: Bismarck.

BT: Right.

FS: Father...

BT: But they weren't picked up in that first, first or second group the way you were.

FS: No, no.

BT: So I just... it's kind of interesting how you would have gotten put into that group.

FS: Yeah. My dad went Bismarck. [Laughs]

BT: What, he was, like, in that big group of 650 people that went to Bismarck, like with the Yamakidos?

FS: Yeah. That's the last group of "disloyal" guys at Tule Lake, the last bunch. Yamakido was lucky; his father was there. My dad was in Bismarck, my mom and my brother was in Tule Lake.

BT: So if you were picked up early, did you renounce pretty early, like some time before December?

FS: I think so, yeah.

BT: No recollection.

FS: No recollection. Because, see, I got a copy of, two or three copy of birth certificate I made before we went in camp. And I still got 'em, I found 'em someplace, I didn't know where it was, but I couldn't find 'em in Tule Lake. I know I lost the original in Tule Lake. I think maybe my dad sent it in.

BT: Right, it needed to be sent to the Department of Justice when you renounced.

FS: Yeah, yeah. So I think my dad took care of everything. I just went with the crop, flow. You know what I mean? I'm gonna go to Japan, and I made up my mind. So if I'm going, this way, go to Japan, I go that way. If this way, I go this way.

BT: You know, one of the stories, you always hear about people being forced to do things in Tule Lake, like being forced to join the Seinendan or being forced to renounce. Do you think that most people, as you said earlier, did it because of their parents?

FS: Parents and friends, and associates. If you're tied up with those kind of people, you're gonna go drift into it, regardless.

BT: So it's not, not necessarily that they were being forced, but that there was...

FS: A trend to go with the flow. In other words, if you go this way, that's no good. You gotta go this way. So whether they believe it or not, it's just that they followed. See, this is where the "follow the sheep" come in. So the people that were from the city, they didn't like to go into that kind of group. They had more sense to keep away, because we didn't understand it. I didn't understand the purpose of the exercises in the morning, and I didn't understand the meeting, have meeting when I couldn't understand a word of Japanese. That was stupid, you know what I mean? How come they didn't have somebody speak English? That was the downfall of the Seinendan. They thought everybody spoke Japanese.

BT: Well, the expectation was that you would want to learn Japanese so that you would be prepared when you went to Japan.

FS: Right, right.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

BT: Were you listening, where were you getting your sources of information while you were at Tule Lake?

FS: My folks, they talked about it.

BT: Were they privy to any of these shortwave radio...

FS: My dad was.

BT: Oh. What was he hearing or believing?

FS: He told me one day, he says... who was this general, famous general?

BT: MacArthur?

FS: Huh?

BT: MacArthur, you mean?

FS: No, no, Japanese. Not Yamashita... no, no. Yamamoto Isoroku. He was a navy man, huh? My dad said that he's coming from Japan to Washington to heiwa musubu, to bind the peace treaty. [Laughs] That kind of rumor going around. And then...

BT: You mean peace treaty because...

FS: Japan was winning.

BT: ...Japan won.

FS: Yeah, Japan's winning that war that time. So they're all on a bandwagon, you know. So anything pro-Japanese would win. So they're talking about peace treaty being conducted in Washington, D.C., by Yamamoto Isoroku. He's going to be the head man in charge. That rumor I'll never forget. He was telling everybody about it. [Laughs]

BT: Yeah, there were a lot of rumors in Tule Lake, and a lot of people were confused about what was true.

FS: Yes.

BT: Did you believe any of the English-language sources of information?

FS: No. The only thing I really did was I tried to get Life magazine. Because Life magazine, to me, was telling the truth about the battle in the Pacific. And they even said that they lost so many at the Battle of Tarawa, America lost more people than the Japanese. They put that in Life magazine. So they were telling the truth. So I read those things, and whatever they... I took it in. I took it, I didn't believe it because I wasn't there. But when they said that five thousand marines die and one thousand Japanese die, I have to believe it because Americans saying their own people dying. They're not saying nothing. And then the Battle of Okinawa, the only place that I found there was a lot of rumor and things with Guadalcanal, New Guinea, both sides were lying, I think. But as the war progressed, the war got bigger. And like in Okinawa, Battle of Okinawa, America lost a lot of people. Because here's the thing. Japan had twenty soldiers, and they went through the banzai attack. So they shot quite a few Americans before they had the banzai attack and they died, twenty thousand Japanese dead here, fifty thousand Americans landed here, and ten thousand got hurt. But it took maybe forty thousand to take 'em out of there. I'm going on a ratio.

BT: So did your family, based on a lot of what they were hearing on the shortwave, did they believe that Japan was winning?

FS: My dad did. My dad took the rumors in. Because if anything, it's just like being... if I was pro-American I'd be listening to American side. If you're pro-Japanese, you're this side. I'll give you a good example, I'm kind of jumping ahead, but when our boat reached Uraga, our repat boat, first thing, I got on deck, I saw nothing but gray boats, gray color, American flag. Destroyer, big boat, you know. Just, the whole bay was flooded with American boats. And the Issei people got on top and go, "Oh," they said, "look what America did." And those guys said, "What?" "Gee, they're kind to bring all those boats for reparation." They thought Japan won the war, and those boats were for reparation. You see? To the dying day, until they reached Japan, they believed that Japan won the war, and there was the proof. But they didn't think the American flag had... one guy said, "What American flag?" "Oh, America no boat, that's why they have to have American flag." I mean, you know, common sense, right? You have to believe that.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

BT: So before we go to Santa Fe, anything...

FS: No, let's go to Santa Fe.

BT: Okay. So we talked a little bit about why you thought you were sent to Santa Fe.

FS: The only thing I could figure, that we got on the Gripsholm exchange ship. And I think I met one or two guys over at Santa Fe that was on the same, yeah. And they were in Japan after, I saw 'em on the boat.

BT: So what was different about being at Santa Fe, which was a Department of Justice camp?

FS: Rigid, very rigid. No fooling around. The guards were very firm, but very fair. And they didn't cheat nothing. Our canteen had, canteen had beer. Beer. I could buy a beer and drink, get drunk. Cigarettes, candy, Baby Ruth, you know -- I mean, not Baby Ruth -- but candy, which we couldn't get in the regular camp, everything was there. I mean, it was just like Christmas.

BT: Do you recall that there were any conflicts with the inmates and the guards?

FS: No, because they kept away. But we did have a hearing very often. Why we want to go to Japan? "Why did you renounce your citizenship?" "Why did you go to Tule Lake?" Then they go underneath, very slyly. "Did you join the Hoshidan?" "What rank did you have in the Hoshidan?" They didn't say "join." "What rank did you have?" They're very good interrogators, they were professional. They had the Sam Browning belt and a Boy Scout hat. They had the hearing. I had a file like that on me. I'd like to know where that file is.

BT: Oh, you haven't seen your file yet, huh?

FS: No, it was thick. And he was going through that. He said, "I see that you were, got out of, you didn't go to finish high school, you went to Belmont High School, L.A.?" "Yeah." "That's what it says here," he says. So he knew everything. He knew everything. I said, "You know when I'm going to die?" [Laughs] But it was... I forgot when they had that big riot. We had a big riot. And this guy Isamu Uchida, he was a chairman. He was a chairman of Hoshidan in Tule Lake. You didn't know that? Big shot. He was the top man. And he told, he was that told me, he said, "Don't, maybe your old man signed you up for the dan, but don't attend the meeting."

BT: Oh, he told you that?

FS: Yeah, he said, "Itte mo wakarande, you." Nihongo. "Wasting your time. And then he said, "You don't have to go to undou in the morning. You go to judo anyway. You get better exercise there." So he's countering what he's telling everybody else to do. So I did what he told me.

BT: Well, he ended up going to Japan and he died shortly thereafter.

FS: Yeah. You know, when he died, he was one of the biggest black marketeer in Japan? He did something fantastic. Anyway, in Santa Fe, one day he told me -- this is quite a while later -- midway, after that, when they had the riot. He said, "Sumida, I want to talk to you." He sent somebody after me, some other Kibei guy or somebody. He said, "Uchida-san want to talk to you." I said, okay, I went to the barrack. And then we went outside and he says, "Tomorrow in the morning, about ten o'clock, there's going to be a big riot here." So he says, "Don't stay in the barrack because that'd be an easy place to catch you. Because they're gonna raid the barracks." So he said, "You know anyplace you could hide half of the day?" I said, "Half a day hiding? I don't know." He said, "I heard somebody tell me you're working." I said, "Yeah, I work in the mess hall." There was only one mess hall, and that was near the administrator area. And I said, "I'm working in the mess hall." He said, "Well, you go up to the mess hall early in the morning." If you got breakfast, working the breakfast, stay there. Stay there, because there's going to be something happening before noon, ten o'clock. So I can't tell you now, but it's gonna be trouble." So that's what I did. I went and told the head cook, and I told him that, "I have to stay here." Maybe he knew, I don't know. He didn't ask me.

BT: So did you ever find out what the issue was at the riot?

FS: I don't know the issue. That's the funny thing, I don't know the issue of why they had that riot.

BT: You heard about the tear gas?

FS: Tear gas? They didn't use tear gas. They used guards and horses. Came running down, guards with billy clubs, nice long one, hit everybody on the head. You know, when you hit somebody on the head with a billy club, know what it sounds like? Hitting watermelon. I'm not kidding you, that's what it sounded like. And then there was a guy in west L.A. named Eddie Osugi. In Santa Fe, he was my next (bed) neighbor, original. Oh, after the riot, we went to the new section. Because more people came from Tule Lake, remember that time? So the riot was in the old section, I was living in the old section, in a green barrack. And then Eddie and quite a few people were gone. So I said to one guy, "What happened to Osugi?" "Oh, he got sent out of the camp." "Where?" "I don't know. He didn't even come after his stuff, they just packed him on a bus, and never saw him after that." And then the next thing you know, that was after the riot. He was hit on the head, picked up by the guards and put in a detention, and from there, they sent him someplace, I don't know where. Isamu Uchida was sent, all the big shots. I think there was an inu there. [Laughs] You know why? Because, and there were a lot of Kibei working in the administration, censoring letters, Santa Fe. About ten of 'em. And then we call 'em fuchuusei, "disloyal." You know? They're Kibei. They can't speak English, but all they know is how to read Japanese. So they were censoring our letter, and they look at the letter, so and so, they read little bit, you know that outline? Cut all out nice like a frame. That's how my letter came. My mom sent me I don't know how many letter. It said, "Hello Teruo," that's my Japanese name. And then, "Haha yori." But I don't know what's inside, those Kibei... so one day I saw those Kibei guys, about four or five of 'em. I said, "You know, you guys been censoring our letter, huh?" And I couldn't speak Japanese, so I said it in English. And by then, they spoke English. I said, "How come you guys cut everything out? Why don't you cut only the bad things?" "Ah, too much work." So they cut the whole thing out. So I said, "You know what? This war, this war is not gonna be forever. Sooner or later it's gonna stop, and boy, if you're in L.A., I hope I meet you." That's all I said. I didn't say the other. I don't want to get sent out, you know what I mean? So they can question me and I'll just say, "I didn't threaten 'em." But anyway, the Kibei, a lot of the smart ones were working for the Office of Information, O-something. Naval Intelligence.


FS: Yeah. Army Intelligence, original OSS, which was the CIA. And what else? Instructors, Kibei. Monterey, Camp Savage, or the other one? Minnesota. They were all instructors. So they were the fuchuusei, they were the disloyal ones. Here we were out in the camp being disloyal, they were doing things, sly, silently, disloyalty against their own race. But what they did was worse than what we did. I think so.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

BT: You mentioned earlier about your yakuza boss being in Santa Fe. What was he picked up for, and why was he in Santa Fe?

FS: I think because he was yakuza. He had a FBI record. County, L.A. was minor. He had an FBI record. [Laughs] Top man. So when he got picked up, he didn't get caught for Japanese-born nation, a spy, he was picked up for yakuza.

BT: And so he set up more gambling operations while he was in Santa Fe?

FS: The only one I did, the one I did was the only one I know.

BT: So you and he were doing the gambling again.

FS: Yeah. He was our boss and he was arranging the cash, money, and he was getting members and keeping the peace. And the was intimidating people.

BT: And how was this that the DOJ guards were allowing this to happen?

FS: I think they just kept it quiet, as long as there was no, no big deal, no injury, no disturbance. We didn't bother nobody, we kept to ourselves. They didn't care.

BT: You were kind of keeping busy, huh?

FS: Yeah. They thought that as long as they can be doing something, it'd be less work for us.

TI: And who were the gamblers in Santa Fe?

FS: People that lived there.

TI: So were there, like particular groups?

FS: No, no, no, it was just the general public. Boss used to, my boss used to go to a bunch of people, "Hey, you want to play shiko? We got a session going. Why don't you try your luck?"

BT: Where were people getting money from? Because they didn't have jobs like they did before.

FS: I also wonder on that, because there was no work at Santa Fe. I had a job in the mess hall, but I was lucky. I couldn't have got fired anyway. He didn't want me to go. He knew, I was the only one that knew how to cut meat. And not against the grain, with the grain, you know what I mean? Meat cutting is just like saw cutting, wood. Across the grain, not with. But he didn't, I know he didn't want me to quit. He says, "You know, if the work is too hard, I'll give you more time off." He made it easy as possible.

BT: But since you weren't getting salaries, other people weren't...

FS: Oh, no, I was getting paid.

BT: Oh, you were? How much?

FS: I forgot. [Laughs]

BT: Were you getting more than...

FS: Gambling paid me more. I didn't rely on that pay. They told me to go pick my pay, I used to let it go. And sometimes I had two months' pay. Then the boss's wife used to come from Galveston. That's the hakujin lady. Pretty soon she was bringing me a box of Baby Ruth. You know, forty-eight in a box, the big one? Every month, box of Baby Ruth.

TI: So, Frank, I wanted to clarify something. So the gambling didn't start 'til you got to Santa Fe. Is that true?

FS: More or less. They had little Hana no game, Hanafuda, but that was small, four or five people playing. But this shiko was big. You could have a lot of playing. There were a lot of people playing, then I needed a payout man. Collector and a payout man, and I have to do the oya, count the beans. That what the House, oya.

TI: So it really was at least a two-man operation.

FS: Two, yeah, two or three people. There's always two or three people there. I had people there to guard me, so nobody steal the money, that was the big job. And the other job was to keep order. And so those two people were there. I don't know if they were yakuza or what, but I don't want to fool around with them. They were kind of mean-looking guys.

BT: Well, you had mentioned that you had left Santa Fe with a thousand dollars in gambling winnings.

FS: Yeah, easy.

BT: So it just raises the question, where did people come up with that kind of money? 'Cause it wasn't that big a camp.

FS: Well, don't forget the people that ended up in Santa Fe had their life, quote "life savings" in their pocket. There was no bank. And a lot of them didn't leave it with their wife, because in Japanese family, the man is the boss. Today, they leave the money with you and all that. In those days, no, no, the mama don't have no money. "I give you x amount, you live on that." That was the system. So the man had the money, and he carried it. So how much life savings they had, I don't know. I don't know. But there was no collection done in Santa Fe because the boss put the fear of God in 'em. You know, "You don't pay, we're going to take your inochi." "Inochi toru de," take your life. So they pay. And then some people that didn't pay, two of the guys that was helping me, they'll say, "Don't give him credit, he owes too much money," or that guy. So when they start putting their bet, I just get the stick and then throw the money away, cast it aside. They say, "Nani sho no?" I said, "You better pay your shakin first," pay your debt first and then play. So then they get their money and walk out.

BT: You wonder why people didn't just report you to the guards and say that you're gambling.

FS: They were threatened, their life was threatened. Against the boss, see, you have a yakuza boss there, he knew the core of life of a person. If he threatened you, he'll fulfill it. Where you and me, we threaten people, we don't do nothing. We try to scare you. But the yakuza, he'll knife you. He says, "Not enough? I'll take your arm off," or something. So people will pay. People do... I don't think we had any trouble in Santa Fe as far as money. I think it's Santa Anita we had, because that was in camp first time, and people were kind of crazy for a while. But once in Santa Fe, there's an old Japanese saying that people are more ochitsuiteru, more settled. And so they knew how much they had, how much that could gamble. But there were people that were in debt. There was one guy in debt about thirty dollars. And then I think he's the one that had a sharpened axe, sharpened an axe, and then he went to someplace on that... and the next day he tried to cut his head off. I'm not kidding you. I went to see him because they were telling so-and so. And I remember the guy's name, he's, he owed money, about thirty bucks. So I went to see him, and he was a bloody mess. So I told the guy that worked with me, "You go through his pockets and get the money out before he send him to are." Otherwise, we'll never get the money. So he went through his pockets and he got it. I think he got about fifty or sixty bucks, he took the whole thing. [Laughs]

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

TI: When it comes to the gambling, earlier you mentioned how back in Little Tokyo, sumo wrestling was a, kind of a gambling sport. People liked to bet on it.

FS: Yeah, right, right, right.

TI: I know there were sumo tournaments in Santa Fe. Did that become a gambling situation?

FS: It was a minor. I was involved.

BT: What were you doing?

FS: I was involved.

BT: What were you doing?

FS: The yakuza boss said, "You know, we could make good money." "Kane mo dekiru de." I said, "What?" "Sumo." "How are you going to make money?" "Well, if you know you're going to do so-and-so, if you know you can whip 'em, you give me a signal beforehand." Because they give you a posting beforehand. So I said, "Well, you know, I could do better than that. From the first day of practice, I'm going to lose to everybody." Lose. So I did, so I was going it with the minor, small people, you know what I mean? Weak guys. So they had a gonin nuki, you take out five guys, you win. And then there was another one, sannin nuki, three guys. And then there was a face-to-face, shobu, two out of three, or something like that. So first time tournament, he started bettin' on me to win. And everybody saw me lose now. So everybody was against me. And gonin nuki win, boy, he won big money. Sannin nuki, I won big. Face-to-face, I won again. The second time, hardly anybody would bet on me. So I was with a stronger group, so now, did the same thing, but we couldn't do good. Big guys were strong, especially a guy from Peru. There were people from Peru in our camp, and they were, like, savage, you know. Just like Indians. If you look at the guys from Peru, they look like Mexicans. You know, with a mustache, you see Mexicans, dark featured Mexicans? Peru.

BT: So there were sumo teams that were both Peruvian ones and the ones from...

FS: We hang around together. So there are not many Peruvian sumo men, but they were good. They were better than me. I lost to a couple of them. Hate to say it. Good thing I didn't bet, or my boss didn't bet. The first sumo, he told me he won about six hundred bucks bettin' on me to win. Then the second time, he says, "Bet to lose." And I lost, so he won again. Everybody was betting to win because they saw me do the first. But now he took me as a win to lose. And he made money. Smart son of a gun. So he gave me a cut, though.

BT: So that was part of the thousand dollars...

FS: Yeah, yeah, yeah, all accumulated. The House money.

BT: That money belt must have been pretty big.

FS: I had to make it out of bed sheets. Homemade. I got pretty good making it. Single fold, because I don't want to make it double because it'd be too fat. Then I had to line the money in the first, and then sew the money together so it don't move around, then put it around me. So I had a big gut. [Laughs] But that was, how could I bring money, you know?

BT: Well, weren't you limited, how much you were able to leave Santa Fe with?

FS: No, no limit. They never asked. They never... I never signed no paper saying how much I had. The only thing they did make us, when we got on the train, they say right away, the guards, officer came and said that, "Anybody want to leave the train and not go back to Japan, next time we stop, just walk out and tell the guard, 'I want to stay.' Just tell 'em, 'I want to stay.'" And you go into the, what do you call the... station office? You know, on the railroad station, there's an office? They said, "Go in there," and you can get, I think they said a hundred and fifty bucks, or something. They had it arranged already, so they give you a hundred fifty bucks, and you could take the next train going that way or any way you want. No questions. They didn't want you to go. I can't understand that. First they want you to go and now they don't want you to go.

TI: So did you consider taking that offer?

FS: I never took the offer because I knew that my dad and my brother and my mom were going to come on the second boat. They didn't come with me. I was on the first boat, all single guys. So it was like me telling a lie, a breakup of the family. So I didn't want to do that, even though I knew that... I don't know if my dad was correct to say that he asked us to go to Japan. Maybe he should have said that, "Me and mom are going to Japan, you guys stay here." He didn't give us a choice.

BT: Well, given the censorship of all the correspondents coming in and leaving Santa Fe, how was it that you were able to communicate and make plans?

FS: We didn't. I just assumed. I just assumed that when I left Tule Lake, my father and mom and my brother were still there. So my dad was saying, "Renraku, no communication in the future, but remember, you have to go back to Japan." He said, "Just remember that, forget everything else. No matter where you are." He said, "Doko demo ii," wherever you are, you got to remember. So when I went, he want to Bismarck, you know, I didn't know he was in Bismarck. There's no communication. My mom's letter was all cut out. So when I reached Japan, Uraga, until the second boat came, I didn't know what the hell to do. I mean, I was in a foreign country.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

TI: And so the way we left it off was, you talked about taking the first boat to Japan with the bachelors, single, and then the second boat coming.

FS: Family.

TI: In between the first and second boat...

FS: How many days?

TI: Yeah, and what were you doing during those days?

FS: Well, here was the problem. You got fourteen, fifteen days before the second boat came. We didn't know when the boat was coming. But actually, the time was about fifteen days, maybe twenty, I don't know. It was so chaotic, and I was just a young kid in a foreign country, yeah, but I was lost. I couldn't buy nothing. No food, none for sale. Money didn't, no, money was worthless. People would rather have kimono, goods, exchanged for food. So that period, I was lost. I was in transit. I couldn't get work, I couldn't make no future because my folks were coming, and I didn't know when they were coming. I had to find out when they came and when we got together, then we could decide. So that period of waiting was the hardest. But I didn't suffer because... for two things. My dad's place was a nice place, a good place, had a big old house, four or five bedroom house, and then it had a kura, you know, storeroom, big storeroom, two-story, then they had a naya where they had an ushi, and it was two-story. One side was storeroom, upstairs was all storeroom, and the ushi was on the bottom, one side. So it was compact unit, but it was more than a lot of people had. Lot of repat like Tad, they went, and they had no place to stay. Because Tad said that the father told them they had a place, but no, no. Somebody sold it. Brother wanted it, brother sold that place and moved the house out. Because Japan, you could take apart. So there was nothing there.

TI: But going back to your place, who was staying at that home?

FS: My father's business partner and his wife, which he married later. It was a lady that... they were married later in life. He was a single man a long time. And I didn't know he was married, but he told me that, you know, "My wife." And she was a bikko, one leg was funny, but she was a nice lady. Good-looking, you know, for the age. God damn, she was good-looking. I was kind of envious. You know, I had eyes already. [Laughs] But she knew how to cook, and she was very kichomen, meaning, very tidy person. So the house was kept clean around the garden, wherever she can work, she was nice. And he was a hard-working man.

BT: Well, what I'm -- would you go back a little bit and talk about your transport? I mean, where did you leave from to go to Japan?

FS: Oh, Seattle. Went to Seattle. A lot of people were saying Oregon, Portland, but we didn't. I remember some kind of tower, huh? What is it?

TI: The Smith Tower.

FS: That tall tower by the harbor?

TI: Uh-huh.

FS: You could see it there in the military, there was a military harbor there. You see, a lot of people think that we went on a plain harbor, but no. It was a military warehouse where they put stuff, and the boat stopped there. They put the troops and goods. So that's where we went because, it was a U.S. Army and Navy, USS Randall. "Randall" was the name of the boat. And a lot of people say differently, but then I think it was about November 25th, we left. Somewhere around there. Took ten days to reach Japan. A lot of people say twenty, but why would they go from Seattle when we went the northern route, which was shortest. Went to San Francisco, you go, take the long route. Short route, ten days. And I don't want nobody to give me controversy, because I know it was ten days.

TI: Okay, good.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

BT: Do you remember what the journey was like? A lot of people describe being sick almost the whole way there.

FS: I was sick (two) days -- I mean, two days. Then I met a black sailor, and we got talking, and he said, "You sure speak good English, huh?" I said, "Well, I was raised in America all my life." He said, "Yeah? Where are you from?" I said, "L.A." He said, "What school you go?" I said, "Belmont High School." "I just graduated from that place." So, you know, kurombo kid, nice kid. Then he says, I was on deck, walking to get refreshed, because they make it mandatory, get a walk. He said, "You sick?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "I'll cure you, come on." Took me in the mess hall, I don't know where he got the food, but he jammed food in me. And then I threw up, he jammed more food. Over and over. And pretty soon, third day, I started eating, and I didn't throw up. And from that day, I was, no seasick. And then he says, "Work in the mess hall. I'll get you a job." And then I said, "Don't they know?" He said, "They don't care. They want you guys to work anyway. There's about two guys working there now, they volunteer." So I worked in the mess hall for that eight days. Then he's the one that told me about Japan. He says, "Don't go, don't get off. Go back. I didn't want to tell you until now, but there's nothing there. Nothing, absolutely nothing." He said, "Even the mice is not there. Nothing for them." So I said, "It couldn't be that bad." He said, "It is." But he says, "The minute we unload all you people, this boat is going right back where it come from, Seattle." Said, "You stay on the boat, and I'll hide you for ten days. We might make it quicker." Then I told him, "No, I'm committed. My family's coming," this and that. Then he says, "You know, on the last day, they're gonna make you guys empty the hole out. They're asking volunteer, but nobody volunteered, so maybe us sailors got to go. But we're gonna ask the lieutenant, Navy lieutenant, he's the captain, to get more volunteers from our people to clean the hole out." You know what they did? The guards on the boat were slashing our suitcases for meanness, cutting it. They go into the hole and just, you know what I mean, bad things. So there's all the baggage was opened. And he says, "You know what? There's a lot of cigarettes floating around." So he says, "You could find a bed sheet and throw all the cigarettes, as many as you can. Even if they haul it like Santa Claus, take it ashore. That's money." He told me that, so I did that. Stayed behind, cleaned the boat out, cleaned and threw all the stuff, throw away, got all the cigarettes, put it in one corner. Loose cigarette, because even the cigarettes' getting loose, cut. So then I had I don't know how much cigarette like this. I was carrying that, and I had my little suitcase. I only had one pair of pants and something. I was poor -- I couldn't buy nothing in camp. There's no store to buy clothes. Anyway, I had a lot of cigarettes when I got to Uraga. And they thought Santa Claus coming out, but they didn't know what was in there. I didn't want to tell 'em. Because that sailor told me cigarette, "If you find cigarette, that's the thing you need, nothing else. That's better than money. It's good for exchange." That's all.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

TI: Yeah, and so I'm curious about the reception of your father's business partner. When you came to the house, was he expecting you? Was he happy to see you?

FS: No, no, he didn't know. I knock on the door and I says -- my dad told me who was there. He said, "You know, Sakamoto ga oru kara." He knew who was taking care because my father arranged it. He told me a lot about Japan, mura, so he put it in my head. So I knock on the door, I say, "Hello," English. And some lady came, the chimba lady. And I said, "Is Sakamoto-san home? Sakamoto-san?" "Ah, chotto matte," she said, then a man came. And he looked at me, and he knew right away who I was. He called my Japanese name. He didn't say Frank, he knew my Japanese name. He came and hugged me and cried. He said, "Nobody told me you're coming Japan." "Well, can't write, tegami dame, no letter." He said, "Yeah, wakatta, wakatta." He said he was glad. So, you know, I didn't eat for about a week. I was eating candy, all the candy I found on the boat, loose candy, Baby Ruth, Mars, I was eating that for five days. And then the center where we were, they had food for us, but that was a horrible food. Like wheat, one umeboshi. I couldn't swallow that. So I thought, "I can't eat this." I can't get it in. Umeboshi is the only thing I eat. So I was in that Camp Uraga for about three or four days, and then Yamane, I made arrangement for a train. Train, for the all the Hiroshima people, and we got one, one train. And we went to Hiroshima. And then I went, he told me how to get from one place to another, Yamane. So I wrote it down. And then he said, "There's a guy named Yamane that's going to get off in Midori, he's going to be the last one. So he's going to take charge until you get to Midori, and you ask him how far to Kabe from there. So he told me two three station, but then he didn't know where Imuro was. But he told me, he said, "Go to the Kabe no eki, and ask the ekichou, people that work in the eki. They'll tell you how to go where. So that's how I found out where Imuro was. And there was no way to get there. No transportation, no bus, all kaput. I had to walk, hachiri, that was about eleven miles, I walked. I'm telling you, that was a long ways.

BT: Well, you had heard all this confusing information about who was winning the war and what was going on in Japan. So when you got to Japan, what were your impressions of what you saw?

FS: Well, on the boat you can't see much. So you get on the other side and you see the port, you know, where the people get on. That's just warehouse and you see some settlement, looked like a bunch of buildings, like military warehouse or something there. And then you look way over there, and that's Tokyo, they say. You don't see nothing out there. Just openness. Because Japan is crowded. So from Uraga to the port to Tokyo, there's nothing but houses and buildings, should be. Nothing, just flat, flat as this. And here and there you might see one story concrete building. And then I think second or third day, third day, a bunch of Nisei came from Tokyo. Nisei GI, they're all officers, lieutenants, mainly lieutenant rank. And they were there to exchange money. They wanted our greenback for yen. You know, they weren't there to help us, they were just making money off. And they were kind of nasty guys, because they had a bar on. And I asked them, "You know a guy named Fujihiro Tadashi?" Said, "No." I said, "Well, he's supposed to be in Tokyo." That was my relative, nobody knew. But I heard he came in the second boat because his brother was on the second boat with his mother and father. But this guy Eddie was the youngest, Tadasu was the oldest. And he was a Waseda and a Fresno State graduate, B.A., two places he had B.A. he was a good linguist. And he was, you remember Konoye? Premier Konoye in Japan, you ever heard of Konoye? He was Konoye's personal translator and interpreter. So when Konoye got put to death, I think, he lost the case. It was all fixed anyway. Because Mrs. Konoye came to the place where he was staying with something long wrapped in silk, it was the family katana, the short and the long, and there was a dagger. Three piece, and she said, "This belongs to the family for eleven hundred years," or nine hundred, some kind of relic. And she said, "This is the only thing he had left." "Kore o katami de totte chodai." You know, katami means what? Heirloom? So he got that. And I saw him with it over here in L.A. once. I went to see him. He died, but he had it. So I said, "What the heck you going to do with it?" He said, "I can't sell it. I promised to keep it."

TI: And he didn't have any heirs to give it to?

FS: I don't know. I really don't know. Maybe he did. He was married, now, but, you know, he was the highest-ranking... this is what they make a fool out of the guy. He was a guy that had a B.A. in two countries, B.A. And the, what do you call that, military tribunal, he had a colonel that was supposed to represent Konoye, that's how high rank they give him. United States Army furnished Konoye with a personal what do you call it, guide or whatever, and a full colonel, American. And then my cousin was the chief translator. And this colonel was supposed to be a bilingual old Japan hand. That was the reason why he got rank. But, you know what? My cousin told me, "He's a bakatare. He can't even read decent Japanese." So he questioned the colonel and told the colonel, "Look. You either play my game, or you do this yourself."

TI: Yeah, I think that was pretty common where the Niseis were much better.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

TI: But so I want to now go back, so you came, first boat, you found the house, and your, the second boat is coming. Talk about the reunion with the family.

FS: I don't know, I didn't go to meet 'em. [Laughs] All I waited was at his house and they came. So a lot of people went to the harbor again, to meet the second half, then they came back together. But me, I didn't know what the hell was going on in Japan, I didn't know from next door to this door. If I go someplace on my own, I'm going to get lost. So I said, "If I stay here, they have to come here," right? And that's what I did. So I couldn't move out of my dad's place. So I was under the care of my dad's business partner. So he fed me good; he fed me canned food. You ever taste that whale meat that's tsukudani, it's barbecued? Oh, that's wonderful meat, whale meat. It's not the white meat, it's dark meat. Number one food. And I had that and I had some other kind of food. He'd been hoarding this all that time in Japan, never ate it. He didn't expect me to come, but he thought for a rainy day, you know. And then he had white rice, everybody else, it was not even rice. They were eating sweet potato, mugi, mixed. And white rice, oh, my goodness. I didn't know the difference. I just took it for granted.

TI: And he knew that your father was going to come, so was he --

FS: He didn't know either until I told him.

TI: Right, but then now that he knew, was he making special preparations for your father and others --

FS: Nothing, what could he do? He took care of the farm for about how many years? All the time that my father was -- he went back to Japan in '36 or '37, so he'd been there since then. So all the improvement, all the, anything bad or good was his doing.

TI: Okay. So why don't you describe when your family finally came to the house, what was that like?

FS: Well, it was like I told my brother, "Hi, Hank. How you been? How was the trip?" I mean, nothing else to talk about. I mean, there was nothing in between that we can say, you know, this place, that place. I didn't know, "How was your trip?" because the trip was bad. I know they were both seasick, all of 'em. So that was the end of that story. And how they got back here, I don't know. They had arranged something. And every arrangement, this, Yamane Tokio arranged our train. I don't know how the other people went home.

TI: Well, when you first saw your parents and your brother, did you notice any changes? Did they look different in any way?

FS: No, no. No, it's only about a year, huh? Year separation. I don't think my dad got any older, I don't think my mom got any meaner, and I don't think my brother got any nuisance. [Laughs]

TI: Do you recall any conversations or words that your father said to you or your mother said?

FS: Well, Japanese people are not that close in words, you know? My mother never said, "I love you," to me, never. And I never saw them make exchange, so I don't even know if they like each other or not. You know how Isseis are. And the only one is, I think I remember close was my brother. I says, "Hey, Hank, how was the trip?" So we got talking, but I didn't talk to my mother and father because they don't talk much, to me, anyway. So I found more from my brother.

TI: And was there anything that your brother said that you remember kind of as a strong memory, like at Tule Lake or something that happened or the trip or anything?

FS: No. They didn't ask him if he wanted to stay, not on his train. And then once he got on the boat, same treatment we got. But then I wasn't there, so my brother was too young to work, and my dad, I don't know what he was doing, and he was in Bismarck. So from Bismarck, they came to Portland and then Tule Lake people came to Portland, so that's how Bismarck, and... and then some people, family people from Santa Fe came. So there was three groups, let's see, Bismarck...

TI: Or Crystal City.

FS: Crystal City, Tule Lake, and Santa Fe. So all the remaining people got on the second boat.

TI: And that was the Gripsholm?

FS: No, no, that was the General Gordon.

TI: The Gordon.

FS: SS Gordon, name of the boat. Same kind of boat that we were on, twenty thousand ton military transport. Big boat, gee it was big.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

TI: So now that the family's all in Japan, what happened next? How did you guys survive, I mean, what did you do for work?

FS: Well, for work, my dad, you know, here's the funny thing about cold-hearted people. I hate to say this, they're all probably gone and dead anyway. But here's a man that took care of my dad all his... he had land here in the next mura, he had land here in yama, he had pretty big holding, and this man was taking care of everything, paying the bills, hiring the help, all that. It was a hell of a big work. So when my father and mother came back to Japan, you know, within a week, you know what my dad and mother did? Kicked them out. Kicked them out. So they went to a place called Miyoshi where they had some relatives, and that was the last time. The last time I saw 'em was when I left. Before I left that place, they were gone. 'Cause I stayed five days or something after they came back, then I went to look for work myself. But I saw them leave the place. And I went up to Mr. and I said, "You know, I don't know what to say." I told my dad, I said, "That's kind of kitanai." You know, the man looks after you all these years, and you come in and you kick them out. He didn't even give 'em thirty days. Five days, he kicked 'em out. "This is my place," he said. "Of course I kicked 'em out, it's my place," if you say it in English. But that was a rotten thing to do. So I saw the dirtiness of the Issei people. That's their training, they're cold. So from that day on, I really didn't have much care for my dad. And then my dad doing everything himself without consulting the kids about going to Japan, you know. I told my dad before I went to work, to the Kure, got a job there. Anyway, I told my dad, "Maybe I'm not going to come back here. I'm disgusted. Iya natta. "Doushita?" "Yarikatta, the way you do things, you kick Mr. Sakamoto out, all those years? Did you give him any money?" "Nande tame, kane?" So that day on, I didn't want to help my folks out. Like an idiot, I did. I did a lot of things for 'em. But that was cold-hearted, huh? So I'm bringing, I'm dragging junk out of my family, but let me tell you this story. I don't want to be lying to you saying, "Oh, my father gave him a hundred thousand dollar and said, 'Goodbye, have a great trip,'" he didn't do none of that. He just kicked them out of our house without a penny. How cold can you get? All during the war years, and then four years before the war, how many years did he stay, anyway?

TI: You said '36, '37, so four or five years. Well, no, four or five years before the war, and then another, I guess...

FS: Ten years, maybe close to ten years. So that's the gratitude. You know, so that day on, I learned gratitude the real hard way of how people treat other people. If I treated somebody that way, I'll forget it because I try to hide my weakness, my dirtiness. But when somebody else do it, it's visible, it kind of stays with you. There's a Japanese word, ensho ni nokoru, everlasting, and stay with you.

TI: Yeah, that must have been difficult to see that happen.

FS: It is. It was one of the worst things in my life, I saw how one person could treat another person. And my mom was just looking. That was disgusting.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

TI: So after that difficult event, then you left.

FS: Yeah, I went to work.

TI: To Kure.

FS: To Kure to look for work. It's just, I got off there, I had to look for work, and I didn't even know where to look for work. There's no employment office, and government, Japanese government, they had employment office because they were furnishing people for the occupation, but I didn't know how to speak Japanese, I couldn't write Japanese to fill out the form. I was behind the eight ball any way you look at it. So then I was at a Japanese fire station, was right in front of me, I walked into that area for some reason. Then I saw a pretty big tent pitched there, and I saw two GIs there, standing there, smoking cigarette and yakking away. So I was kind of lonesome, and I wanted to talk, they were talking English, so I wanted to talk English. Getting homesick, you know. So I went to him, the GIs, and I explained, I said, "It's my first time in this town, I don't know where anything are. Actually, I'm looking for work. You know where I could get work?" And they looked at me funny and said, "You speak good English, don't you? Where are you from?" [Laughs] Said, "You're not from Japan." So I told 'em I was from America. But they didn't know what the hell a guy from America was doing here. So I said, "Well, cut the long story short, I need work." Well, he said, "You know how to speak Japanese?" I said, "I can get by," which was a big lie. He said, "We need a Japanese-speaking person for liaison work right here, to work with us, too. Because we don't, we can't go across the fire department." And so what I found out was they were fire marshal. Any military installation, Kure, and there was a bunch of 'em, whole bunch of places. Well, these two GIs, they get a call, they had to go across the street and tell the fire department people where there's a fire, military, you know, Seventh Base Air Force office someplace, they had to pinpoint where it was. Then they sent the fire truck out, then they get on the jeep and they follow 'em until the fire was, they made the fire report. So they wanted somebody there that was, they couldn't do it. They couldn't speak the Japanese language, they didn't know how to work it. So he said, "Good thing there's no fire. We've been after the major for days and days and days to get somebody who can speak." But the major said, "Can't get nobody." So he said, "Get on the jeep." So I got on the jeep, I got my bag, he said, "Leave it here." And I was ready to go to work, sine I had whatever clothes I had, little bag. Took me to headquarters, where the major was, Australian major, and he said, "You speak Japanese?" I said, "A little bit, enough to get the job done, what you want done, location and all that, pinpoint." "All right, you got a job." I says, "What goes with the job?" He told me, "We can only pay you so much." I think it was something like, I forgot, twenty dollars a month, equivalent in yen, twenty bucks a month. And I said, "Is there any food?" He said, "Well, I know the mess hall in the headquarters nearby, and these two GIs, they go eat there anyway, and they're buddy-buddy. So I'm going to make arrangement with the mess sergeant so that you can get food ration." He said, "You can't eat in the mess hall but you can bring it back to where you work and do whatever you want. And I'll make it so that you get ample food." And I was smart, I said, "Thank you."

So I went back to the GI, and I said, "I'm going to get the ration." First thing I says, bribe. There's got to be a bribe somewhere. So I said, "Gee, does the mess sergeant drink?" "Oh, he likes sake, Japanese sake. Oh, he loves that thing." You know Issho? Big bottle? I bought that. It's dirt cheap, especially if you go to a winery. So I got a Japanese Issho, went to the mess hall, and went with one GI, he introduced me to the mess sergeant. He said, "Okay, what you do, you go in the store and pick whatever you want, and here's a bag." So he gave me a little bag, and then the bread's over here, the butter there, and then I said, "Here, Sergeant, this is for you." "What for?" I said, "Well, I'm giving it to you. You're a nice guy," I told him. And he give me a big wink. He says, "You and me going to get along real good." So I fill up the food, he didn't say nothing. I went back, he says to me, "Don't forget to come tomorrow morning, pickup your rations, three meals." And he said, "I got some cigarettes, too." Aussie cigarettes, they come in cans. You got to roll it, smash it, and get a paper, like Bull Durham. I got real good in that. And then from that day, the next day I went, I got him two bottles of Japanese beer. You know what it took? I gave the fire department -- no, somebody came down, I forgot who it was, I gave him a bread, cut, about that big, and it had butter on it, just on one end. That guy, I told him, I said, "Okane iran," no money. "Nani iro?" "You got whiskey? You got sake?" "No, biiru aru yo." Beer. I didn't know what biiru was. I said, "I'll take that," and it was beer, but it was a nice bottle. So I got the two bottles of beer, I went down the next morning. I just bribed him with a big bottle of sake, and he says, "You know," he says, "Help yourself whatever you want. Get a bigger, take two bags, three bags." And from that day, every day I brought something, big bottle of sake, then I brought four beer, now. And every day, he'd say, "You got enough food?" And he says, "Oh, you know, sugar's bringing good price, better put some sugar in. Take that paper bag there, fill it up." Five pound of sugar.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

TI: And so, Frank, so you'd have all this extra food, and then you would go back to the fire station, and then people would come and you would kind of distribute or sell?

FS: No, I put it in the big old box they had. It was a military, wood box, store box, with a key and lock. And these two GIs had a key, so they gave me the key and said, "Put that in there." So I put all the food in there. So then, first time I had a day off, I took enough food and brought it to -- I mean, Oku, where my brother was. 'Cause I know my brother's suffering, 'cause I don't know what they were eating. I don't know if that food was still there. My brother was happy, he saw the bread, and he saw all the canned food, the butter, and he sure was happy. So I told my brother, "Every week you come and get the food, Kure." So he was coming every week. So I didn't sell it, gave it to my folks. You know, I didn't care much for my folks, but I started thinking about my brother. So he was eating good.

TI: So this is, I mean, again, yeah, you're street smart. So you knew how to get things done, how to survive.

FS: Yeah, I bribing... the sergeant, he didn't say, "What did you bring me?" I just put it on the, he's got a desk, you know, and there was a little corner there. And I just go in there, "Good morning, Sergeant," and then he's watching me what I'm dropping. So a bottle of beer, a big bottle of sake. He don't even say, "Thank you." He said, "Oh, don't forget your bag," the big old bag there. You know, what kind of, onion bag, you know. Not a bag, it was just like a cloth. And I'd fill it up, two bag of food. And then he used to say, tell the corporal, "Hey, go get Frank the fresh baked bread." Still warm. And then he'll tell me there's the fresh butter, not the canned butter, but fresh butter in the icebox, reefer, they called it. So I'd go get a pound of real butter. Then I found out I can't eat the pound of butter, no icebox. So I tried to tell the GIs, "You want to help me eat the bread and butter?" "No, I don't want to eat that crap." They're so used to it. And I didn't want to bring it to the fire department, 'cause that way, I'm spreading too much stuff out. You've got to, that box is serving my family, and then I was selling it.

TI: So later on, you started selling it.

FS: From my box.

TI: From the box. And who would you sell it to? Who would come by, who would know about this?

FS: I met a Japanese girl, she was walking down the street one day, and you know, she was looking at me funny, and I said, "Doko iku no?" "Where are you going?" And she said, "Eki." I said, "What are you going to do at the eki?" "Nani suru eki de?" She said, "Tomodachi no tokoro, next town." I said, "Why don't you come over here?" "Oishi tabemono aru yo." I said, "Got something good to eat." So I made her a sandwich, and then the GI had some, see, I was drinking hot tea, always had hot tea. So I gave her some tea, and made a sandwich, and her name was Hanako. And then found out she had a lot of connections. Her father was in some kind of business before the bombing, so she was brought up in the business. She said that, "Tabemono takusan aru no," I said, "Yeah." I showed her the box. She said, "Uritai," she said, "I want to sell it." So she became my agent, so she was selling it. She'd come with her own bag, and she'd pick up, make a list, "Kore nani, kore nani," so I'd tell her what it is and she'd make inventory. Then she'd go and sell it. Can of butter, this and that, make big order. And she was my business agent only. No hanky panky.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

TI: And so how long did you work with the fire marshal?

FS: Four months.

TI: And then what happened after that?

FS: I had a better job offer.

TI: So talk about that, what was the better job offer?

FS: It was in the next town, Hiro. Hiromachi. And I was, I had a job offer -- oh, somebody told me there was a job there, and they need somebody to speak English and Japanese to run the kitchen, so they couldn't find nobody. And the GIs, obviously the GIs were having a hard time, communication. So I went to look at it, and then there was an Aussie master sergeant, big shot. And he says, "You know anything about food?" I said, "Yeah," I said, "what do you want to know?" I said, "I know how to make mayonnaise." He said, "What? Mayonnaise?" "Yeah. I know how to make soup, how to make roast, how to make French dressing." See, the Aussies eat the same thing Americans, just about. He said, "You know all that?" I said, "Yeah." I said, "You want me to show you? I could do it." And I still know, I was out of camp, Japan, '46. So he said, "No, I know. What you put, ingredients?" So I told him what I put in the mayonnaise, you know, all the oil and mustard, this and that. And he said, "Okay." He says, "So you worked in a restaurant, your dad had a restaurant?" "Yeah." He said, "You know, you're the right man. You might take my job." But he says, "You know how to run people?" I said, "I don't think I have any problem." Said, "I got nothing but women working, no men." Because there was no men in Japan, they all went to service. Only young boys and old men, in between are gone, so all women working in the kitchen. Chatterbox, man. So he says, "I'll tell you what, I'll try to get you the top pay, you're going to be the foreman of the kitchen, you're gonna be the boss, you're gonna be right under me. You answer to nobody except me. I don't care if that corporal tell you something, no, no. You don't listen. You answer to me." Two corporal and a master sergeant. So we all three got along real good. So I was running the kitchen, making arrangements, how to put the, this food first. So GI, we have to feed the GI on the plate, army style. No tables. And then, let's see. I don't know how many soldiers we fed, but there were a lot of soldiers. Because we had big personnel.

And you know, there's a bit steam vat, pressure cooker. Aussies didn't know what that was. But when I was in Santa Fe, this head cook was telling me about a pressure cooker he had in his tavern. What he did was buy the cheapest meat possible, steam cook it. Make the gravy and cook the meat the same time, throw onion, everything in there. Comes out beautiful like a post roast dinner. And the meat, you can just flake it off. And I knew about that. And they didn't, Aussie didn't use that because they didn't know how to use it. Japanese use it to cook rice. It was a Japanese naval base headquarters. They feed hundreds of sailors, so they had the big kama, pressure cooker. I used that pressure, Aussie had the worst meat in the market. Toughest meat, and they called that the prime steak. You couldn't even cut it with a knife, it was so hard. But steak and egg was a prime, like a filet minon, or, you know what I mean, best food we had. So I used that pressure cooker and put all the dehydrated onions and potato, squash, everything in there, and put some water. Then we steam cooked that. And you should have seen what came out. The damn GIs were eating that thing up, there was nothing left for my Japanese help. The GIs came for seconds and thirds. And the mess sergeant said, "Frank, you did it. You did it, you started it, now you're gonna have to finish it. That's expected of you from here on." So I told the sergeant, I said, "You don't have enough dehydrated potato and onion, because that takes a lot."That's no problem. I'll get it. There's a lot of other mess halls, they can't use it." So he went and got all that. After that, oh, you should have seen all the GIs. Whenever we had that meal -- we didn't have it every day, like once or twice a week. And then they know somehow, we didn't tell 'em what date, the GIs were lined up. And then my help, I used to feed my help first. I feed the help, sergeant says, "We don't do that." I said, "Well, sergeant, if we don't feed the help first, there won't be nothing left." And I told the sergeant, said, "You know, my dad had an expression. He always told me, 'Never forget. You don't charge the people that worked in the kitchen food money. The food comes with the job, free.' And he always told me, 'Don't forget it.'" So I said, "Sergeant, that's the way I'm going to do this mess hall. I'm not going to let them eat the junk. They're going to get top." So I used to let all the women eat first. They don't eat much, anyway, you know, not like men. And after we were working in the mess hall day after day, even in Japan, shortage, they can't eat that much. The smell defeated them. So all the help were eating all the good stuff first, boy, they're all robust and fat, now they're feeding the GIs. I think we made sure that it went one round. And then the mess sergeant said, "Well, we've got leftover, seconds." So the guys come for seconds. Some guys come for thirds. Them Aussies can eat. They're all slender and tall, but oh boy, they can pack it in. You know, we had to scrape all the juice off that thing and put it in the dishpan, so the help was using that to put in bread, soaking it with gravy. And that worked better than the meat. God, it was good food.

TI: That's a good story.

FS: I made an impression. The mess sergeant, he said, "Frank," he says, "you don't have to do no work, but what you did, I didn't even know about those things. In Aussie, we don't have those things."

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

TI: So how long were you at this job?

FS: I was there until I went to work for the military government. That was about five months later. [Laughs]

TI: So let's move on to that, 'cause I went to get to that. So you went from now this mess hall...

FS: So I heard about this military government wanting a supply officer, assistant to do supply work. And I heard that, I wanted to work for American anyway, you know. Aussie is American, but they're different. And why should I work for Aussie when there's American working? You know, they talk my language. So I got a job with them. So I became a supply, big honcho, they call it head. And I had an officer, a major, do only the paperwork. He signed the return and issue paper, you know, return and issue, and inventory and all that. I did ninety-nine percent of the work. And the colonel told me, colonel got me the job, interviewed me. And he says, "There's another job you got, too, not only supplies. You've got to do all the requisition work for the team." Shimane, Tottori, Okayama, Yamaguchi, and Hiroshima, there's five ken that have sub, smaller military government, each one. Hiroshima was the biggest, Chugoku, it was head of the whole region. So I have to supply the team, plus the CIC, each one. And then, later, six months later, atomic bomb, ABCC came. Atomic Bomb Casualty investigation of the experiment, atomic bomb. So I had to take care of them, too, supply. Furnish them domestic supply, I mean, bed sheets, blanket, dishes, because we had to furnish all that. We didn't take Japanese stuff. We're not stealers, we furnish our own. No, this is MacArthur's way of doing it. He didn't salvage the country, we came like, I mean, I say "we," but we came with everything we need. We didn't even take the Japanese food. Yeah. It was against MacArthur's rule, you cannot eat Japanese food.

TI: Oh, I didn't know that. So that was a policy so that it wouldn't take away from the Japanese people, that he wanted to, in fact, probably brought extra.

FS: Right, leave 'em alone. See, so MacArthur had a hell of a record. And then I had to furnish the team, every location.

TI: And so roughly how many people are we talking about? When you say all these teams and all these different areas?

FS: Oh, well, each military government, I had four ladies working for me doing all the clerk. I had three GIs helping me full time.

TI: But in terms of supplying, how many, like hundreds, for hundreds of people, thousands of people?

FS: Oh, yeah. Each team had maybe fifty, sixty people.

TI: So hundreds of people you were supplying.

FS: Oh, yeah, there were five places. Even Hiroshima had a team. And Chugoku military government region was the headquarter for all of 'em. See, get the picture? So it was split in five. So I was running the whole five and the team, you know, in the headquarters. And then, later on, colonel says, "Hey, Frank, I got a, I got a problem. I can't get nobody to pick up the enlisted men's food ration." I said, "From where?" He said, "Well, there's a train, food train coming in from Kobe once a week. And then the order today, I give 'em Friday, we pick it up next Friday. And the Friday order is for next Friday." You know what I mean? It goes like this. "So I want somebody to take care of that." He didn't tell me officer's club and officer's mess, he later, after I went out, and, "Oh, Frank, come here, come back here. Since you took that enlisted men, I want you to do the officer's club and mess hall, too. It's small." It was just as big. So now I got the supply work for the team, and then later on the ABCC came. I got all this work. I couldn't do it, not even twenty hours a day, but I managed. You know the old saying, you got a ball of twine, and you want to get the, it's all knotted up, just get one piece at a time and clip, and pretty soon you solve that. That's what I did. One situation at a time. So then what you do, you get a person that you can more or less manage to run that for you. Colonel want me to run it, but I got somebody else to do it, some Japanese people, smart. I don't care if they're male or female. That took care of that. Then he, colonel came in my office one day, "Where's Frank?" Lady said, "I don't know, he probably went downstairs for something." "For what? Every time I come nearby his office, he's gone." He's yelling for me all over the building, four-story, yelling, "Frank, goddamn, where in the hell are you?" He know that Japanese don't speak English, so they don't understand. So he's using cussing words and everything. Can't find me, I'm fooling around. You get people to do your job, and then you look around, three or four days, everything's going good. No good, get somebody else. You set the policy, don't tell 'em how to do it. You figure that if they're smart enough that you got 'em that job, they should be able to handle it. The only thing you have to do is set the policy, what you want done pertaining to the work only, not how to do it. And leave 'em alone, and it works. Japanese, Chinese, I don't care who it is, it works. I had women doing men's job, you know what I mean. That's when I met my girlfriend, and she was starting to do a lot of things. She was almost like a shadow. Every time I look for her, I don't know where she is, then she's behind me waiting for orders.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

TI: And so when you mentioned girlfriend, did she start off just working for you first?

FS: Yeah.

TI: And can you briefly explain how you met her? It's an interesting story.

FS: She was from Manchuria. She came back, stowaway, father and mother and sister passed away on the trip out of Manchuria.

BT: Refugees.

FS: Refugee. And she reached this harbor where there's supposed to be a boat to take her to Japan. But before she got on the boat, there's some old Japanese army corporal, old man, long time, befriended her, and he told her to cut her hair, make it look like a boy. Gave her a GI uniform, Japan uniform, and then told her to get on a certain kind of boat. He said, "There's a place that you can hide, because I've been on that boat before. So he told her where to hide, and the boat sailed one day later, luckily. Furnished her with water and dry food, you know, like what do you call it, biscuits or something. So she was on that boat, I think, four days. And then finally the man told her, "Make sure that the next day after the boat lands, the next yonaka, midnight, get off." So nobody know. So she did that, and then she got on a train, and she was going to, she didn't know where to go because she was in Manchuria for quite a while, so she lost all contact with Japan. She didn't even know where she was born. And then no family record, that was gone. So she had, clueless. So she got on this first train, and that train landed in Hiro, where I was working at supply. And then I was in that... where was it I met her? Looked so haggard, dirty, big woman, too, she was about 5'6", big for a woman. And looked like a young boy, look liked that. So I said, "What's wrong with you?" And dirty, god, she was filthy. He or she. Won't talk, so I turned around and said, "Look." I said, "What are you doing? Nani shiteru no?" And she started crying. She said, "Wakaran." I said, "Where do you live?' "Shiranai." "Doko iku no?" "Shiranai." "Don't you have no place?" Said, "Shiranai." I said, "When did you eat?" "Four days ago." This woman must be hungry. So that time it was about five-thirty at night, and I was staying in a Japanese home. The owner, they call Oya-san. "Oya-san, nani ka taberu mo aru?" she said, "Nokoru mo aru yo." So she said mugi rice and white mixed. But she won't give me that, she'd make me white rice only, 'cause I was giving her all kind of food, you know what I mean? Bringing it home from the mess hall. I had a special way to get it out of the mess hall, camp. I didn't have to go through the main gate. I had a secret way to get out, secret way to get in, oh, man that was a beautiful place. I could take a truck of food out of there, nobody catch me.

But anyway, I had the Oya-san fix her with food first, and she smelled the food and she started shaking. She couldn't eat. Just couldn't eat. She was so filthy, so I said, "Oya-san, furo mada aru?" "Mada nukui yo," she said. "I thought you was gonna go in," so she had the fire going. I said, "No, you better put her in." She came out like a human being. I said, "Oya-san, you better help her." I said, "I don't know..." I said, "Oya-san, are, otoko onna shiran," I told her. I didn't know whether it was a man or a lady. She said, "Ah, sore sugu wakaru yo." And Oya-san yelled out, "Onna yo," she said. Girl. So she'd dunk her head in the water and washed it clean, soaped her, and then the clothes were so dirty, so you know what a kimono yukata? Light one they use in a inn. Put that on, and the yukata came up to here. It's supposed to come here. [Laughs]

TI: 'Cause she was just so tall.

FS: Yeah. So then the only clothes I got was, they call in monpei, it's some kind of kimono-style pants. And she had that, monpei is adjustable to any height. So she gave her that. And then next day, they fed her. She finally ate, and then she threw up. She couldn't hold it. You know, sometimes too good a food, huh? So I told her, "You better slow down." 'Cause I knew what happened, the food was too rich. So I told Oya-san, "Okayu," you know. You what okayu... and she made okayu with some sweet potato mix and things like that. That she was able to put down.

TI: It's an amazing story. It's almost like you were destined to meet.

FS: Yeah, in a way.

TI: She was coming and just came right together.

FS: And then the next day, I took her to work. I said, "What the hell am I gonna do with her?" She stayed in my room that night because I couldn't, I didn't want to kick her out, where's she gonna go? Oya-san said, "Kono hito nai, iye mo ne, dare mo oran no yo." "She don't even know where she's gonna go." "Doko iku wakaranai." I said, "Oya-san, doshitari?" "Shou ga nai ne, tomeru hoka nai ne." She said, Oya-san said, "I got extra blankets." So instead of putting her in her room, she put in my room. So I was sleeping with an unknown woman. So I told her next day, "Wake up, you got to go, get up, we got to go eat breakfast." And she just followed me like a dog and went to the mess hall. I fed her, and then I made her a pot washer. I mean, what else could I use her for? So I told her to wash the pot, and then sweep this place, do this, do that. I gave her four or five jobs. And then in no time, she was finished. She said, "Sunda, sunda." She was the only person in my life who came to ask for work.

TI: That's interesting.

FS: Nobody else in my life has asked -- not even my wife. After she do something, my wife, she do something, she just walk away. She don't come back for more work, she just walk away.

TI: But in some ways, she must have been so appreciative. You essentially saved her life.

FS: Probably, probably. Yeah, so I got, when I was in the mess hall, I fed her the first person, then lunch I fed her again, and I fed her in the storeroom because I didn't want her to jeopardize with the other help because they might think she's funny woman, you know. She was funny.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

TI: So, Frank, I want to actually touch upon something you had just started earlier in the interview. When you mentioned how some members of the JACL came to Japan. Can you tell that story?

FS: Yeah, I think there was about seven or eight of 'em. They went directly to -- the way I heard, from kind of a secondhand knowledge, not first, but second, was they went directly to GHQ. They had some kind of letter or commendation, something to get in there, now. So they went into GHQ, was MacArthur headquarters, and they stated that there were a lot of repats in Japan working or the occupation, and they were bad people. They were disloyal people and this and that, they painted a very bad picture. So MacArthur's headquarters said, "Fire them." So they sent a memorandum from GHQ headquarters service command, went to Eighth Army, Eighth Army to this command, that command, and finally into the whole military government section, then it came down to our place. And then the colonel called me and said, when I was military, he said, "Frank, come here. Read this." So I read it, and he said, "What does this mean?" I said, "Well, you gotta fire me, 'cause I'm one of 'em." He said, "I know that, but what about all the other people? How many people working here that same category?" I said about thirty or forty. At least forty women. So he said, "What happens if I fire them?" I said, "They'd be out of work." "What kind of hardship?" Said, "Well, most of them are sole provider of a family for money for food and all that." So in other words, the colonel says, "If I fire them, the family can't eat." "Yeah. Me and my wife and my fifteen kids, we're gonna be the first to be affected." The colonel said, "Oh, shut up, Frank." [Laughs] And then he says, "That bad, huh?" I said, "Well, it could be easy. All you have to do is just ignore this, I mean, fill this letter out and follow that letter, and you're not at fault. MacArthur's fault." "No, I can't do that. Frank, here." He gave me the memo, "You take care of it." So when he said that, I had to rip it up and flush it down the toilet. So people in military government, they got -- I asked this one Michiko Dohi, she worked there in military government, and she said she heard about that. I said, "Did you lose your job?" She said, "No." But I didn't ask her, "Why you didn't lose your job?" See, the colonel never told anybody about that memo. You're not supposed to destroy a memorandum, that's a big, big no-no, GHQ. That's just like slapping MacArthur in the face. And you're supposed to keep that memorandum in file as they go. First things first.

TI: But then in other parts of Japan, probably people were getting fired.

FS: Oh, yeah, yeah. Tad Yamakido got fired, Shinto Sakamoto, Hitoshi Naito, Jimmy Kai, those are the people I know personally, and I asked them, they got fired. And then they got reinstated on a job later, about four or five months later. You know, when, kind of, things died down.

TI: What did you feel when you saw that letter? When you saw that memo --

FS: Well, I wanted to go after those eight guys and then dump 'em in the ocean, and hope they can't swim. That's not, that's one of the worst things you can do. Come all the way to Japan just to get what? Get even with repats? They thought we were having it good? We didn't have it good. How many people that worked for the occupation had it like me where I was getting good title, good pay, and food? And I was even getting cigarette ration in a lot of places. Nobody get that. And I was a repat. And I didn't tell nobody because I couldn't spoil a good thing. A lot of them think I had it bare because I didn't want to tell some -- "Oh, you're lying. You don't get all that." They won't believe you. So that was the hardest part. So when they say they, when they come out, a memorandum, it's already said and done, fired. You can't argue. MacArthur say you're fired, you're fired. You shot, you're shot. General Yamashita, remember? Yamashita, he said, "I want the quickest trial," Yamashita. So Yamashita had a couple of day trial. It was lesser officer, low ranking officer condemned General Yamashita to death. That was kind of dirty of MacArthur. That's the only thing I hold against him. That was dirty. Because Yamashita never did nothing bad to MacArthur, only defeated him.

TI: But what you're saying is MacArthur was like a dictator in some ways.

FS: Dictator, and he was an evil person in a lot of respects. And yet, when he was fired by Truman, the time he left the embassy, all the way to Haneda Airport, that highway and street was crowded with Japanese. If you have a curb here and a building here, it was through the building. GIs, Japanese people. Crowd all the way to the airport. So a lot of people liked him, and a lot of people hated him. I hated him because he used to tie up the traffic. You know, I want to go across the street and the military police and Japanese police, they're holding the traffic. So I get off the, I was one of the first one in line there, so I got off the car and I said, GI, military police, said, "Hey, soldier, what's going on here." He said, "The old man's coming through." I said, "Oh, no." You had to wait until MacArthur came across, drove across, and then they let the people go through. That's what I hate about that son of a bitch. He was God.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 42>

TI: But what I now want to go into, earlier you talked about, as a supply officer, you talked about how you didn't have to go through the main gate, that you had another way?

FS: No, that was the mess hall, I was foreman of the mess hall, Aussie mess hall.

TI: But I'm wondering, when you were working with the military, you controlled lots of supplies. And during the war, there was a active black market.

FS: Yeah, yeah.

TI: And I wanted to get your thoughts about...

FS: Black market?

TI: ...about the black market. What was happening?

FS: Initially, in Japan at first, it was small, what you carry on your back. That was everybody. But don't forget now, you got a thousand people doing, you could fill a freight car. But everybody was doing it. Food for clothes, clothes for food, whatever the demand, food and clothes. But I think food and food was the commodity. Rice for potato, rice for daikon. Because you can't eat rice alone, so you have to, rice for eggs. And then if you have rice, you got that choice. I give you so many eggs for so much rice. That's tops.

TI: So what you're talking about, it's really a barter system. So that one group had more of something than the other, so they would trade their surplus to get something else.

FS: Yeah.

TI: And so that's how initially it started.

FS: Right. So if a person was, for instance, when I was in supply work, I had a big truck. So I figured, I got a lot of people working for me, and they all work hard. They get nothing for it. Money can't buy 'em nothing. They're all former navy people, army, high people, captains. And I'm a nothing. I'm this, but they all respect me because I'm the boss. I'm their leader, so I got to do something. I thought about one good thing one day. In Hiro, there's a lot of dry fish. People, they dry fish because it's preserved better, right? And salt, there's a lot of people make salt on the sea. But if you get the salt and fish and you bring it hundred miles in, there's a gold mine of rice there. Why doesn't that rice come here? One thing, no transportation. The transportation system was screwed up during the war, and I figured this out. Why doesn't the iriko or surume go to inaka? There's no train, there's no truck, shortage. If I was to get the fish and bring it to there, could I get the rice? I tried a dry run. I only got a jeep full, enough for a jeep. That place, inaka, that sonchou, big shot, mura, "Oh, I got lot of rice. How many rice you want for this surume?" Said, "How much you gonna give me?" We've got to do exchange now. He said, "I could give you x amount of rice, tawara," big, you know, this, for so much fish. I figure, I'm getting the best of the trade. So I said, "Okay, done." But I said, "Next time I come, I'm going to bring more with a bigger truck, and can you handle it?" He said, "Oh, yeah, I got ippai kome aru." So next week I got money, I even got the workers to pool the money and took out how much they contribute. Got all the money and went and bought the fish, dried fish. Man, I got a lot of fish. The GI truck was six by... and it's a two-ton truck. The back was loaded up with dry fish, and had to get a canvas cover. And I had a GI driver. So he was part of my -- I had to explain to him what I was doing. He said, "Frank, it's an adventure. Let's do it. Let's see what happens. It's interesting." About two or three helpers, they were riding in the back, I was in the front, there was six of us. See, we didn't want to get waylaid. There's gangs out there trying to swipe things. So safe that way. Drive to another village, a bigger village, I heard they wanted fish bad. And they needed salt bad. So we had the two items, so we went there, went to see the big shot of the mura, and they gave us... you know, I end up with almost two third of the six by, rice. That was a lot of rice. Brought all that rice back to the supply warehouse. I couldn't bring it nowhere else, I didn't know where to dump it. So we had the warehouse, and put it all in the warehouse.

And then it was toward night, so I told the big honcho head of Navy, captain, he's a colonel, he was my boss, Japanese boss. I told him, I said, "We're gonna start, tomorrow morning we're gonna divide it. I want everybody to bring their itomasu, it's a container of certain size. You tell 'em." And I think we got enough rice that we can make it nitomasu, bring two." So he told 'em. So they came next door, nitomasu, two, and we cut the bag open. Jesus Christ, didn't even make a dent, there was so much rice. So I says, "All right, now what? I tell you what." I told this one guy, "Go down to so and so in the town, and they have some kind of a bag I saw. Some kind of bag." So they got a whole bunch of that bag, and then put all the nittou of rice in each bag, and then put all the nittou of rice in each bag. So this is the bag you take home. "Now," I said, "I want each guy, nittou of rice that you're going to take home, and you're going to sell that. This is for you to eat, you sell this, bring the money back. Here." So they're salesmen now. I sold every bit of that rice. Man, there was a big demand. Next town, I sold it, in the big town, Kure. I didn't sell it in my town, I might get caught. But just to be safe, I greased the police, gave 'em rice. I gave one guy, a real bad guy, he was my buddy, too. He was the head of the, he was the inspector, but he was more or less in charge of the whole police station. Even the chief of police was scared of him, very intimidating person, see. But, so I gave him the rice, and he greased everybody. So now, he says, "If you get caught, just mention my name. Other police can't do nothing." I never got caught, though. So that nittou, they work the next night, they brought that home, you know, they all profit for that rice. They're eating better, and then the one they had left for themselves, they were even selling part of that. Because they saw all that rice in the warehouse, and they count their blessings. Each guy was praying they get more of that rice from me. So I kind of read their minds, so I gave 'em the rice. And I sold quite a bit myself. They were selling it for me.

TI: And then for that one, that one sort of truckload, how much money would you make off that?

FS: Gee, I don't know. I didn't sell for money, I was bartering and I was getting loyalty out of the workers.

TI: Okay, so this was like buying goodwill.

FS: Yeah. You know, I never had a greed. You know, if I had greed, I'd have been a rich son of a gun.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 43>

FS: I would have... you know, one time I had a real bad idea. You know what they call Kuromaki in Japan? Kuromaki is the Black Dragon Society.

TI: Okay, right.

FS: You've heard of 'em.

TI: Yes.

FS: They're the government pushers, they elect people who they want. They make a law what they want. They're pushers, and they bribe people and they take bribe to do work for you, for them, anything. I had a idea of kidnapping that guy. But where could he go? Found out that he didn't have no yakuza to guard him, police won't guard him, couldn't trust the police. The only thing he could do is have a few bodyguards at home that he can afford, and bury the money in a hole someplace, in a hole. So I made a -- I know a yakuza boss in Ikebukuro. And I gave him the idea what I want to do. He said, "Toku ii kangaira na." He said, "Musuto wa ne?" He can't go to police. He's a robber, why should he go to police? And he was saying he can't go to police. He's a crook. So I said, "I got to do something first." What I did was I made a study of all the movement around that guy's house, twenty-four hours a day. When I left off, I had somebody else do it, some other people come, mailman, what time he come. Udon man, deliver udon, what time? Sentaku ya, what time? Gomi tori, what time? Everybody go in and out, what time the servant came. What time the old lady went to so and so place, where did she go? Everything, had that thing done for one whole month. And week after week was almost identical, movement. So I gave this whole thing to the yakuza no boss, and he says, "You know," you know what he told me? He said, "I'm a yakuza, I do a lot of dirty things. I even kill people. But this is gonna be too big. And I think it could be done, there's no question it could be done. You hold 'em for ransom. But don't tell everybody you're holding him for -- get everybody away from the house and then ransom. 'If you don't tell me, I'm gonna cut your finger off one at a time,' you know, things like that." Now, whether I do or not, I don't know. But the thing was intimidation, "and he's gonna tell you where the money is." And that was my idea. And there was a fortune in that one guy's place. A fortune, because he couldn't bring it to the bank. And if he brings it to the bank, the government gonna find out. They're gonna tax you. So he had to hide it. So he's a crook of all crooks. He couldn't go to authority, so we had 'em. And the yakuza boss knew it. He said, "Frank," he said, "Sumida," (...) "Where do you come up with these ideas?" Oh, he liked it. He wanted to do it. But then we went to talk to the lawyer buddy of ours, we explained to him. Because we had to get him in, too, because we had to get -- once we got all that, how do we get rid of all those stuff? I heard he had some jewelry, too, diamonds that he held for, what do you call, exchange. Because people donate their own money, but they got jewelry, so they took it off. So we had to get the lawyer to dispose of a lot of stuff. Security papers. And I didn't know nothing about that, and the yakuza buddy didn't know, we had to get a lawyer. So we got him in, so there were three of us now. And the yakuza told me, he says, "One of the best ideas I ever heard, but I don't think we should do it. Because I'm afraid we'll have to kill that person. Because you're not going to kill the man because he's gonna tell you, but you're going to go after his wife. And pretty soon, you're gonna kill his wife, and then what? And maybe he's gonna say, 'Well, get another wife,' which is easy for a guy with money." And that was the catch. The lawyer said, "Well, if you kill my wife, I'll get another wife, I'll get a better-looking one, young one. Go ahead. I wanted you to get rid of her. And some people are looking way to get rid of wife. You can't beat this way." So that's when it killed me. I said, "God damn." But we're talking about untold fortunes. One month I spent. You know that legal paper, time, who went through, what time they went, everything.

TI: Oh, that's a fascinating, interesting --

FS: That would have been one of the best money-making deal in all Japan, you know? And I won't even feel guilty. That was the beauty, no guilt. And always, I think to my dying day, I dream about this a lot of time, even now.

TI: Well, it almost makes like a plot for a movie or something.

FS: And I think, gee, well, what if we did it. And I said, "What if I die doing it? Is it worth it?" But what if we succeed? Oh, this guy Uchida Isamu, I'm going to tell you about him. He died young. He died of some kind of sickness, rokumaku or TB or something. Anyway, he died. I don't know if anybody knew about it, but I'm going to go on record. He's dead anyway. But he engineered to hijack a whole train. This train was going to Chitoshi up north to a air base, it's a big air base. And all the PX item was there, coffee, cigarettes, cosmetic, anything worth money. And this was the early part of Japan when all this thing would have gone. And he hijacked, he did hijack all that one time. He stopped that whole train in no man's land, you know what I mean? Nobody said... and how did he get rid of all that? Good question. How did he get rid of it? He had a yakuza friend supply a lot of trucks one after another. They went to there, and they had a manifest of all that load. Cigarettes in this one, you know what I mean, all the number. Some of them they didn't even touch. They didn't want it. But all the other side, they opened, they put it all on the truck, then they hid it. And the truck where they hid it was not too far. It was a big warehouse. You could drive a truck through. They unloaded that, and they sold it piece by piece.

TI: Now, how did you find out about this story?

FS: I've heard from the horse's mouth. He's the one that told me in Santa Fe, "Don't go fool around. Hide yourself tomorrow morning, there's gonna be a big riot. So get lost." I said, "Where?" He said, "Don't go your room, 'cause the guards will come right through there." So I said, "Well, the only place..." he said, "Didn't you work at a mess hall?" I said, "Yeah."

TI: Right, yeah, you told that story earlier.

FS: Yeah, he said, "Well, go in the mess hall and stay there."

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 44>

TI: So, Frank, now I'm going to switch gears a little bit. Because back at Tule Lake, you signed papers, you really couldn't remember when exactly, but to renounce your U.S. citizenship. But you were able to get your U.S. citizenship back.

FS: Yeah.

TI: Can you tell the story about how you got your citizenship back?

FS: Very simply, Judge Goodman. He had a decree, finalized a decree in 1948, that's when the trial. Now, this thing was already contested in Washington. The Justice Department people and various different divisions, even the part that were in charge of the apprehension of Japanese, those people, all the, back in the Justice Department, they're the only ones that could contest this decree. They didn't want to contest it because there would have been a bigger jam. They would have been sued directly for going against the Constitution, putting us in camp. That's number one. And they evaded it by throwing it to the Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court did it on the whim of the Justice, to favor American wartime. So they said that the Army did the right thing in putting us in camp. For our safeguard -- did you ever read that?

TI: Right. But then, but then Judge Goodman had a --

FS: Reversed all that.

TI: -- had a ruling that said... well, there were a couple, too. There was one where for draft resisters, he let them loose, but then later on, he also had a ruling that the renunciation of citizenship was improper.

FS: Yeah. And he said that way early.

TI: Right. So he did that --

BT: And the judge gave everybody back their citizenship.

FS: Yeah.

BT: And then that decision was appealed by the Department of Justice.

FS: Yeah. But it was appealed in sections.

TI: But anyway --

FS: You didn't know that.

TI: But anyway, but you took this information, and how did you use the information in Japan?

FS: Well, because we were, I was in a bunch of people that got that decree for another decree that said that Collins said that we were never denied, we were never accept, our renunciation was never accepted. Because there was no law in America that could do, obey that. So it was against the law. And that's where the Justice Department, they want to fight it, 'cause they were dealing -- so this one came out early, and then 1941, another one, final one came out. And then actually, the final one is the one that the Justice Department wanted to fight it, but there was a smart attorney, told the Justice, "Don't fight it, you're gonna lose. Okay, you're gonna go against the Constitution now. You cannot go against the Constitution, you cannot change the Constitution."

BT: So were you a part of the Collins case?

FS: Yes, the first one.

BT: And so you sent, how did you hear about it?

FS: Well, they sent me a letter in Japan, Collins sent me a letter. And then there was another letter came saying that to get on the case to further promote this, he would have to have a retainership and a payment of three hundred dollars. So I sent him the three hundred dollars. The next thing I know, I got a decree from Collins, some kind of law papers saying that I was never deprived of citizenship. I was a citizen all along.

BT: So you probably did not renounce.

FS: I probably did, I don't know. But I used that letter and I went to Captain Brossman at Johnson Air Base, Officer's Club, and showed him that. He said, "Well, have to talk to legal officer." So he went to see some major, he said, "Well, according to this, this person is still a U.S. citizen." So Captain Brossman said, "Well, then he could take a MPC, military government payment, you know, dollar payment for pay?" And the major said, "Yeah." So the major said, "Well, you better get him a AGO card if you're gonna give him a dollar pay." So that's where I got that picture with the AGO card.

TI: So based on this document that Wayne Collins set you, you showed it to their legal, they interpreted it as, okay, you're still a U.S. citizen...

FS: Yeah. And then even the consul at Yokohama, there was a young clerk, male clerk. He said, "According to this" -- I showed him that -- he said, "you're a citizen. You never did renounce. How come you're a renouncee?' I said, "I don't know." But he gave me a letter saying that I'm a U.S. citizen, and I was entitled to a passport. Because, see, in those days, they weren't issuing passports left and right like common use. Like me, I had only one way to go, one way pass to America. I didn't have a book, permit to go. So I was a citizen, so with that, I went back to the major and I showed him, "Well, there's my official paper." He said, "I think Brossman already got your AGO card going. He says, "Don't you have a family?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "You better get a commissary card, too." So I applied for that. So here I am, one day I'm working for yen, and next day I'm getting dollar, $150 a month, commissary card, see, I can go to the commissary and buy any kind of food I want, coffee, you know. I can't even buy no coffee noplace.

TI: And so you're able to switch your status and get that access.

FS: Yeah.

TI: How did you feel, sort of, inside, or personally?

FS: I felt like a king. Let me tell you, I felt like a big wheel. And then, to top it off, I had money so I went and bought a jeep. All that, I did all that in about a couple of days. And Brossman was surprised. "Where in the hell you get the money to buy a jeep?" He said, "Where does everybody else get dollars? MPC." He said, "God damn." [Laughs]

BT: And explain to us why it is you wanted to buy a jeep.

FS: That was the only car available. It was the only thing available. You look in the Tokyo area, see, I was working Johnson, and Johnson's in the sticks. So the only thing I could buy was a jeep that was available. But I want to be on a status symbol, you know what I mean. I'm not a repat no more, I'm a DAC. Got an AGO card.

BT: So this was a big symbol of your --

FS: Oh, yeah, and I got to have a car. I don't care what it is, as long as it's got wheels. I don't care if it's a tricycle. [Laughs] So I've got this jeep. I was trying to look for the jeep I had, I had a picture of it. It's painted light gray, like the Navy.

TI: So, Frank, in addition to getting all these dollars and privileges, were you also thinking that you wanted to return to the United States?

FS: Not that time.

TI: Okay, so you thought you would stay in Japan.

FS: Oh, I thought I would stay here forever. I was like a king. I was off the Japanese bandwagon, I'm on to the American bandwagon. I'm going to PX and buy anything I want, I got cigarette ration. See, I go to PX, they gave me a card, they said, "For your ration." Five carton in a month, now, two one month, two one week and three single card. Five card, dollar a carton.

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 45>

TI: Well, but eventually you decided you wanted to come back to the United States. And so why, what made you change your mind?

FS: Well, one day in 1955, I figured, I'm getting old. I'm getting old, you know what I mean? I got to settle roots someplace. And I said, "I can't stay in Japan. If the occupation goes sayonara, where am I gonna get a job?" Where? No more occupation. This was my livelihood, occupation. If the occupation's gone, I can't read and write Japanese, so I can't work in a Japanese company. There's not enough American company that could hire me, 'cause I gotta be bilingual. See, so I started weighing, I says, "God, what am I gonna do?" So I decided I better start going back, think about ahead. I was still young enough that I could start second life. And I didn't want to be like everybody else, wait until the boat sink before it sinks. I'm going to get out before it sinks. And a lot of guys, I know a lot of guys still stay behind until the very end, I don't know what happened to them. Some of 'em got jobs, I know one guy got, he's not a repat but he came from the States working for the school system, federal government school system, some kind of a, not teaching, but administrative. And these people were teachers, some kind of special teacher, and he was looking after the welfare and assignment and all that. So he had a good job. He was in the top job, you know, controlling all the workers. And he stayed in Japan for twenty years. He came back, but he lives in Montebello. His name is Tak Watanabe, I met him.

TI: And so when you returned, so you eventually got back to the United States -- because we're actually running out of time. So I just wanted to -- and this is actually maybe a big question. But your status, because you were a repat, when you returned to the United States, in the Japanese American community, did you ever get criticism or flack for...

FS: Being a repat?

TI: ...for being a repat?

FS: Lot of people found out, they won't talk to me. They found out, "You're a Nihonyuki no boy, you're a Japan boy?" I said, "Yeah." I was waiting for repercussion, they just walk away. They didn't ask me. It could be that they were the renouncee themselves that didn't go back to Japan. There were a lot of them, remember, in camp. Turncoats. But you know, before you know, what did I accomplish after I came back? I tell ya, the last job I had in Japan, for four years I was a GS-13, and I was a member of the Banker's Club, which is only for high colonel and general only. I was the only Nisei in there. I got kicked out, too. They didn't believe I was a member. And the one that put me in there was my boss, the colonel. He was a member there, he was a real high-powered colonel. So I was a GS-13, member of Banker's Club, and I had 24-hour limousine service. And my boss, colonel said, "That's all I could do. I can't give you no raise in GS rating because you'd be on top of me. You'd be higher than me, and that's a no-no," he said. [Laughs]

TI: And what was your role as a GS-13? What was your title?

FS: I was running three different big commands at one time. Depot, five thousand (black soldiers), bowling alley, PX. Then I had a seventh base post office, snack bar, PX, and a minor, second base debark and embarkation port, which was only when the boat come and go. But they had a PX and snack bar. So that was a command. And then I had a negishi, they called it, negishi, dependent housing, there was another bowling alley and a PX, and a snack bar there. So I had all this big command which, why did I get it? Because the people that were running it got fired. They were stealing. Hakujin, hakujin manager, no Nisei.

<End Segment 45> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 46>

TI: And so for you, when you made your decision to go back to the United States, I mean, you were leaving a lot.

FS: I was leaving all that.

TI: And the 24-hour car service...

FS: Limousine, yeah.

TI: And all the privileges and perks, you were leaving. So it was a major decision.

FS: Yes. And you could say I was a fool in a way. Why didn't I stay until the job was eliminated one by one or something? I don't know. I think it hurt my feelings to start losing my job from underneath. So I thought maybe I'm top of the world, why not go blazing? But one of the worst things that happened to me that made another decision, I had to separate from my girlfriend. I had to make a decision. I couldn't do this, keep going on and on and on and on. She knew that I was married, but my wife didn't know nothing about her. And I couldn't get rid of her. You know, one time when I was out of luck, had no money, and she went down to the Japanese post office, they had a bank, and she got three hundred thousand yen, took all the money she had out of that and gave it to me. She said, "With this, feed your family and pay your bills." All the money she had in the world. You know, I never paid her back. I just, when I had the money, I forgot about it. But you know, (before) I left her in Japan, I had a meeting with the yakuza boss and the lawyer and her, and I had all the documents, bank statement. You know what a koseki tohon, family register? Hanko and jitsu han and regular han, they had two kinds. And I had all that, I had put it all on the table and I said, "Well, there's that's my general wealth." I had a deed to a place in Fuchu, a guy owed me money and couldn't pay me, so he paid me a bar, land and a building. And it was closed. But anyway, so I had all that on the table, and I had this meeting started, and they didn't know what the meeting was about. So I said, well, the meeting was, "In a way, I want you to be here because all of us, all four of us is the only one that's been together for the last seven, eight years, hell and high water, good times, bad times, making money," you know. But we faced the peak of life and bottom. You can't find person that could do that. Some people up here, but not here. Some people here and they forget here. But we went up and down many a time, and we stuck with each other. But I said, "Come a time I have to split. I have to go back to America. Made my decision. I'm gonna get old, I don't know what to do," I didn't say because of my girlfriend. But I said, "I'm leaving my hanko, I got a fifty thousand dollar account in Chase National in Tokyo, and I think I got about ten million yen in the bank." Postal savings bank, ten million yen, that's about, what, thirty thousand dollars, maybe more, I don't know. Pretty big money. So I said, "That's all going to Kay, Kiyoko," my girlfriend. "And this is all hers," koseki tohon, everything there. And so she saw that and she just went like that, "Iranai." She got mad, she started crying, bawling, what a scene. But I told her, I says, "Kiyoko," I said, "many a time we talk about this. Someday there's gonna be a time when this is gonna happen, and we're gonna have to face it. And I'm gonna leave, I'm gonna have to leave you. 'Cause you know I'm married. So the best thing I could do is give everything I got. I'm gonna leave Japan with eighteen hundred dollars," and I showed my checking, that's all I got. "The rest is yours." So that's when I parted. She couldn't get over it. She says, she told the lawyer that she might as well face death. "Better be dead," she said. "Shinda hou ga ii." But you know, I went to see her in 1965, and that woman, instead of nothing, she had a lot of wealth. Fixed that bar up, and I trained her in a way that you never use your own money if you could help it. Use other people's, borrow money, bank, anywhere. Use their money and make a success and pay 'em back. And not use your own capital. (Narr. note: She became an accountant. Without her help, I could not hold all the jobs. She had an auditor rank.)

<End Segment 46> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 47>

TI: So Barbara, we're past two. Do you have any last questions you want to ask? Frank, this was an amazing interview. I mean, thank you so much.

FS: No more?

TI: Well, we have lots of questions, but it's...

FS: Oh, I know one thing you forgot to ask me. What did I accomplish in my life up to now?

TI: Yeah, okay. [Laughs]

FS: Okay, two things. You know what a Mason is?

TI: A Mason? Yes.

FS: I'm a Mason. How many Japanese you know are Masons?

TI: I don't know very many.

FS: There ain't none, only one or two. Bruce Kaji? You've heard of him, he's a Mason. Dr. Hara and Dr. Benjamin Kondo is a Mason. And I'm a licensed contractor, State of California. I'm retired. (...) See my license number? It's very, very low. 1957. I was a licensed contractor since 1957. (License #179824.)

BT: Not bad for a guy that didn't finish high school.

FS: Yeah, yeah. I know a lot of people that went to try to get a contractor's license and failed. I got mine first (time). I'm not saying I'm smart, but...

TI: So being a Mason and being a licensed contractor were some of the key achievements that you really...

FS: Well, a lot of job, inspectors are all Masons. Either make it hard or make it easy. So you got to judge the inspector. If he's a hard man, you work hard. And if he's an easy guy, you can cheat, and he'll look this way. No, but a lot of times they help you, inspectors. They don't, they don't bother you, they don't make it hard. Even the hard inspectors will make it easy. I never had a bad inspector that was a Mason yet. All good. But, see, my brother, I made my brother a Mason, for him to be a Mason. But he became a thirty-second degree Mason, and he was a Shriner. I didn't go the other way, I only went one way.

TI: That's good.

FS: But, you know, Japanese people don't know too much about Mason, but when you go among white people and they see that you're a Mason, they have different outlook. I met a lot of high -- I met a Chinese Mason in Phoenix, and he told me, he says, "Frank, outside of murder, you get in trouble, you call me up. I'll give you my card." Outside of murder.

TI: So it's really like a brotherhood in some ways.

FS: And then there was, I met a guy named Casey when I was working up north, he gave me a pin, a silver pin, dollar size, and the was the original founder of this particular lodge, and he gave that to me. He says, "When you come to the lodge, just show it and you get in. No ritual, this is it." But you know, there's a lot of good in it.

TI: That's good. So Frank, again, thank you so much for the interview.

<End Segment 47> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.