Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: William Hohri Interview
Narrator: William Hohri
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Gary Kawaguchi (secondary)
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: September 12, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-hwilliam-01-0001

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TI: Today is Friday, September 12, 1997. We're at the UCLA conference titled "Voice of Japanese American Redress." Our narrator today is William Hohri. Doing the interviewing is myself, Tom Ikeda, and next to me is Gary Kawaguchi from the Japanese American National Museum. The videographer is Matt Emery. And I'll start off, and William, to get going -- before we get into redress -- I want to ask some background information. And so what I want you to do is to think back to the time of the war and actually the period right before the war. And can you tell us what you were doing during this period?

WH: Well, I was going to high school, North Hollywood High School in the valley. And my family was sort of emerging out of poverty. My father was a Christian minister, a Methodist minister. But what happened was, as our family grew older, older siblings could go out and earn a living. So my second oldest brother went into the gardening business. He wasn't too happy about it, but he went into the gardening business, and I used to help him. And that was really, he was our primary source of income. And in those days, the gardening business was productivity. We used to run behind the lawnmower -- we had a power lawnmower -- just to see how fast we can get through a given place. Because you only made ten, fifteen bucks at each place a month. So, you know, you had to try to get as many places done as you could. And I was just a kid, I was only about fourteen then. I was fourteen when the war broke out in '41.

TI: And so you felt your role was, at that point, to really help the family out, earn as much money...

WH: Well, I didn't care about helping the family out because it ruined my personal life. I mean, because I had to work on Saturdays and summer vacations and stuff like that. I mean, you know, just no vacation, no weekends. Well, we got Sunday off, but... I wasn't that interested, I was only in the tenth grade. I was interested in gymnastics and school, and my friends at school. We were interested in sports and stuff like that. Typical kid. That's pretty much what life was like.

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