Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Charles Oihe Hamasaki Interview
Narrator: Charles Oihe Hamasaki
Interviewers: Martha Nakagawa (primary); Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Culver City, California
Date: February 24, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-hcharles-01-0023

<Begin Segment 23>

MN: Let's go back to Bismarck.

CH: Oh, okay.

MN: How much interaction did you have with the German prisoners of war?

CH: Oh, I learned how to talk German little bit. [Speaks German] See, I learned all that kind of thing. So I got a good buddy, German guy, young guy, same age. Same age. They were telling Germans going to win the war. [Laughs] And you know? It's amazing. Jew, boy, they really hated Jew. "Jude," you call 'em. They were... I didn't know so much these German people hated. Discriminated, prejudiced, Jewish people. I used to work with the Jewish people, too, but that guy there, he was really prejudiced. I don't see how people can be that prejudiced. It's amazing. I used to talk to them. See, sometimes, them days, you know, all that farmers, they're nothing but farmers. Big-time farmers all North Dakota and Montana. Big, they go by, not acre, they go by... what do you call that?

TI: Hectare?

MN: Huh?

TI: Hectare?

CH: No. They don't go by acre, they go by, I forgot the word. They go by that. Men, they come to, I told 'em, "I want to go help 'em." No, you can't go out, but some Germans used to go. That guy was telling me, "I was out of camp." "What you doing out of camp?" "Oh, I went to help on the farm." "Oh, yeah?" But not every time. Yeah.

MN: What kind of activities did the Germans do?

CH: Huh?

MN: What kind of activities were the Germans doing?

CH: Oh, I know they would play soccer every day. They would play soccer every day. Not baseball too much, soccer. Well, they got a fence so you can't go inside. They were already talking about what part of Germany they come from, what they were doing on the ship. That's what they were talking about. Hey, half of 'em don't know how to talk English, now. Most of 'em, they talked broken English. Sometimes, "Huh, huh?" "Oh, okay." Japanese, Japanese is number one. [Laughs]

MN: So where did you interact with the Germans? In the mess hall?

CH: No, mess hall, they got their own mess hall. We got their own mess hall. So I used to go call, so many barracks, you go to this, you know.

MN: Barracks.

CH: Yeah, I used to do that. I was helping out. I helped out a lot. That's why when I was a serviceman, they wanted me to open up an office in San Francisco, I turned 'em down. In Fresno, I turned 'em down. So I used to go to San Diego, I don't turn down, but I went to Seattle. You know, when I went to Seattle, those Issei was still living, lot of 'em. They all were well-off, mostly farmer and merchants. When they see me, "Hey, you was in North Dakota with me." Oh, I was there, but I don't know that guy's name. See, I did everything so they noticed me. That's why they bought stuff from me. I used to sell 'em... I used to sell, what was I selling? [inaudible] this Noritake dish, that kind of thing. So that's why I did pretty good selling.

MN: Did you have communication with your family?

CH: Nah, I never wrote letter.

MN: So they didn't know where you were?

CH: And my father probably wrote a letter, but I never gave my father a letter. No letter. Lot of people, same thing, few letter from all, it's amazing, from all different kind of place. That's why I talked to him: "Ojichan, where you come from?" And they told me, they said if I was more inquisitive about everything, I ask 'em more. But there were a lot of famous people in there, though. One of the famous people is Guadalupe the King of Lettuce. He had thousand and thousand acre, all ship 'em to New York. He was the richest guy in the whole place. Even today. Probably you don't know, see. You're Washington, that's why. Actually, Tom, you're from Seattle, downtown?

TI: Yeah.

CH: I remember I went to Jackson Street, I remember. Where that Japanese food was. Maybe they don't have it no more, I don't know.

TI: No, they still do.

CH: They still do?

TI: Yeah.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.