Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Fred Y. Hoshiyama Interview
Narrator: Fred Y. Hoshiyama
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Culver City, California
Date: February 25, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-hfred_2-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so Fred, today is February 25, 2010, and we're in Culver City doing this interview. Running the camera is Dana Hoshide, and I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda. And so, Fred, I'm going to just start by asking you, can you tell me when you were born and where you were born?

FH: I like to say that I was born with a bang on December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day. So happened I was born many years before Pearl Harbor. That was 1941, but I was 1914, the same digits turned around.

TI: Oh, interesting. You just change the one and four...

FH: One and four to four, one. But anyhow, I was born in a place called Yamato Colony. It's a first successful -- I use the word "successful" because it wasn't the first Japanese colony in the entire United States, but it's the most successful, oldest Japanese colony, and it still survives, still goes on. And the name Yamato Colony is in the tax rolls at Merced County, a place called Livingston, California, northern California, Central Valley.

TI: Oh, good. So I want to learn about this, but let's talk about your parents because I want to find out how you got to Yamato Colony.

FH: Okay.

TI: So let's talk about your father first.

FH: Thank you for asking, because I didn't know too much about my father. But as I talk to people, I learned this much: that my father was one of the first colonists from San Francisco that went to a place called Livingston and started Yamato Colony in 1906, the year of the earthquake and fire in San Francisco. And so he and his, few other people, happened to be members of the Japanese YMCA of San Francisco. I also researched that and found that San Francisco YMCA, through the influence of people like Mr. Abiko, Kyutaro Abiko, who was also from the same ken, Niigata-ken of Japan. And so that's how my father was Niigata, and he was a dirt farmer in Livingston, California, was a pioneer, started Yamato Colony.

TI: Do you know why he started Yamato Colony?

FH: Well, yes, I got to know the Abikos because I lived with them for one year after I left Livingston in 1929. And so I learned that he was very much interested, that the Japanese immigrants have a chance in this country. And he was watching what happened, and he said, 'The only way that we're gonna survive is if we put roots into American soil." Up to this point, most of the immigrants were just seasonal workers, and they would earn lots of money or whatever they earned, they'll blow it all up in a few years, party or something like that, and then they have to start all over again following the crops. So this is why he said, "For our future," the Japanese future in America. And that's why many came here, some came here to make their riches and take it home. But many came for a new life, a better chance. And then they wanted to start families. The only way they could do that was to establish a colony, roots, in American soil. So he decided that he would get together a group of people to finance it, and he started a kind of a bank. I don't know the Japanese word for these corporations that he started, but he had an American lawyer that worked for the Bank of America that helped him. And through that connection, Abiko, that reason was to start a colony of farming. And farming was big. In Japan, too, I guess if you owned land, you were doing okay. And so he, then we found out, he found out that troubles, owning land in the state of California, especially at that time, labor laws. But 1906, he was able to put together a corporation, and a corporation is not a Japanese. It's an entity.

TI: Oh, interesting. So he got around that by forming a corporation.

FH: Exactly.

TI: So the corporation owned the land.

FH: That's correct, and the corporation has rights to own land. And so the corporation would buy three thousand acres of land, and then they divided up the land in 40 acres, 20 acres, and the Japanese farmers could then borrow money from the bank, and then mortgage their farm and start farming. And they borrowed money also from this corporation, and that's how my father got started. Well, he needed to get a wife, not too many women --

TI: Well, before we go there, so about how large was the group? Three thousand acres is a lot.

FH: Yes. That was in this place called Livingston. Three thousand acre is, well, it is large. But there were some farms, ten thousand acres for one farm. And so three thousand is a drop in the bucket.

TI: But do you know about how large the Yamato group was?

FH: Well, at the time, I don't know how many. I saw some pictures at Yamato Colony, and I saw a room that was called the YMCA room. And so they used to meet just to discuss and maybe have a prayer meeting, and the Yamato Colony was considered to be only for Christians, or at least it's the Christian community, that was the name. And the reason was, the YMCA started it, and therefore, so I tell people, you asked me my birth. I say that I was born into the YMCA from the very get-go.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. Yeah, because of your, later on we'll get into it, but your...

FH: Yeah. And then that was 1906, my father started it with some other men. I still remember some of those men, Okui, Minabe, Naka and Tanji. I still remember, that was ninety-five years ago. [Laughs]

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Okay, so let me ask a little bit more about your father. Can you tell me his name?

FH: Yes. My father was Yajuro, Y-A-J-U-R-O, Yajuro Hoshiyama from Kitakambara, Niigata-ken.

TI: And do you know anything about his family in Japan?

FH: Not much. So I was curious. So I went to visit Japan one time and went to the Hoshiyama homestead. And they told me, "Right here your father grew up," and pointed to an area. And then I found out there's a company called Hoshiyama company, and they were a construction company, and there was Hoshiyama rice company. So in Japan, in Niigata, Hoshiyama meant something. So I said, "Wow. I should be proud of being a Hoshiyama." So they had a party for me, and some of the Hoshiyamas got together, it's a big group of people. I only stayed there just overnight, so I didn't get a chance to meet too many people.

TI: So was your sense that your father was part of a prominent family in Niigata?

FH: Yes. That's right. But I also learned that my father could not go back to Japan, 'cause he must have been kind of a runaway or something. Anyhow, he never returned to Japan. And fortunately, he did finally get married to a "picture bride." That Mrs. Abiko went to Japan and gathered some women to bring to Yamato Colony because there weren't very many women in this country at this point. This was 1906. 1912 is when my mother came over from Japan. They got married in Abiko's home in Union Street in San Francisco. I've been to that house, I know exactly where that was. Now they moved, Abikos moved to another location. When I grew up, and I was there for one year when I was a student. And the reason I stayed with Abiko was because we didn't have a big enough apartment house when we moved from Livingston to San Francisco. But that was, again, a very much like a night and day experience for this little guy.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So let me ask a little bit about your mother. So what was your...

FH: My mother was from Nagaoka, Niigata-ken, one train stop away from the main Niigata city, Niigata-shi.

TI: And what was her name?

FH: Her name was Fusatani Takato. Takato. She said her father owned land, and that she, her two brothers that I met, were, one's a medical doctor and other was a professor of botany at a university. So evidently, her background comes from a wealthy family. And why she came, and she was a midwife. My guess is that Mrs. Abiko chose her because she was a midwife, and brought her to become my future father's wife.

TI: And your mother. [Laughs]

FH: Yes. So my mother, Tani Takato, got married to Yajuro Hoshiyama in 1912 in San Francisco. And they immediately, they moved back to Livingston, California, where my father had already established a home. First, he was still at another farm working there as a foreman. He worked there eight years, and then he saved his money and put a down payment on a piece of land called Livingston Vineyard and Orchard. He had to have a corporation because he couldn't own land.

TI: Oh, so this was outside of the Yamato Colony.

FH: No, no. It is part of the Yamato Colony.

TI: Oh, part of it.

FH: All this is part of Yamato Colony. Abiko and his group formed this Yamato Colony in 1906, and he comes to visit many, many times. Every time he'd come to visit Livingston, he would stay with my father's place, in a shack. And I thought, "Here's a man that could afford a hotel room, and yet he stays in a shack." Well, I learned they're same ken. [Laughs] So they became friends that way.

TI: Okay, so your father then formed his own corporation so he could buy land...

FH: All the farm has names. Why? Because that protected them from the law. Unequal, unfair immigration law that this country has had and still has, in some cases.

TI: As well as the, back then, they had the alien land laws.

FH: Yeah, group started to develop all kinds of laws that prevented him from owning property, correct. And then they would also use, he moved when I was born so that I'm the president of this corporation. I'm a citizen, but a baby. And so they got a law that says you can't do that. Person doesn't even know what he's doing, you can't make him a president of a corporation. Which I didn't know when I was growing up, but later I learned that this is the way they got around the immigration laws.

TI: Oh, so as an infant, you were already the president of the corporation.

FH: [Laughs] And so was all the other farm people. They didn't know it.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. So you were born into the YMCA...

FH: Yeah, for that part, that's correct.

TI: ...and then you immediately became a corporate president. [Laughs]

FH: That's correct. That's interesting, isn't it?

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Well, tell me first about your father. I knew he died as a young man.

FH: Well, he, unfortunately, he worked hard, but he died early. He was only forty-six, not quite forty-seven years of age. I was less than eight; I was seven, maybe eleven months.

TI: So tell me what you can remember about him. What was he like?

FH: He was short of stature, and so I thought, well... but he was kindly and very caring. I remember sitting on his lap, and he used to laugh a lot. He had a full head of hair, so I thought, "Well, if he lived longer, he'd have been bald like me, too." But he was very kind, but I saw very little of him, 'cause he worked night and day, from sunup to sundown. But one thing I learned about this man, and that has influenced me as I kept going, and that is this: that all his coworkers trusted him. He was a foreman of a crew that went to Alaska in the canneries, and the sardine and salmon canneries, and he used to, they used to trust him with their money, because if they kept it, they will spend it imprudently, and then they'll gamble it away. So they trusted my father to hang onto the money. And he told me he was not big, but he was very trusted, and people loved him. So that much, he died early age, but that influenced me also. I said, how could I live up to such a wonderful father? And so I never knew him, but I knew him.

TI: And what caused his death at forty-six?

FH: He had a stomach cancer. And one time an insurance man said, "Fred, don't ever say that because the rates will go up." [Laughs] "If I didn't know about it, then I'll give you the regular rate, but now you told me, I have to charge higher rate, because the risk is higher." So people ask me, so I say, "I don't know." [Laughs] Now it's okay.

TI: Okay. Yeah, now you outlived all the actuarial tables.

FH: [Laughs] Yeah, exactly.

TI: Can you recall the funeral service for your father?

FH: Not too well. I remember Mother took us there, and Turlock is ten miles away from Livingston, it's the closest cemetery at the that time. Now they have one in Winton, which is closer to Yamato Colony, right on the edge. But at that time... so my father and my youngest brother and my sister is buried in Turlock Cemetery, yes. I don't remember too much about it, but I do remember that people were very, very kind and caring. And so I felt Father had to be very important for people to be so nice to us. And they tried to help Mother out, and told her, she had four boys left, because we lost a sister and a brother. So there were six children, and here she had four boys. And when the father died, my youngest, Willie, was crawling. Couldn't walk yet. Must have been maybe, maybe one or two, but wasn't doing much more than able to hobble. Mother spoke no English, didn't have any skill. She was a midwife, but that's, in this country, a midwife, I don't know if you could get a job being a midwife or not. But she somehow struggled, people advised her, "You should send these kids, your kids to the orphanage." But she said, "No, no. Family should stay together." Thank god she kept us together.

TI: So tell me your siblings, the birth order. I think you're the oldest. Can you tell me your other brothers?

FH: Yes. I have... well, I was born '14, then my brother Tom, '16, 1916, John in 1917, then Willie, 1919. And in 1918, Osako was born, then in 1920, '21, I guess, was Goro. But he was like stillborn, 'cause he died at infancy. But my first, Tom, he raised five children. And he and his wife finally separated after the kids were quite young yet.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So during that time when your father died, you were the oldest son.

FH: I was the eldest, yes.

TI: Did you feel any responsibility...

FH: Oh, Mother kept saying, "Now that Father's gone, you're the eldest, so you have to take charge." She kind of laid it on me. But I was a young kid yet, eight years or so, so I don't remember too much about it. But we kind of grew up, and we had a good, good life. We started working out in the farm at younger age because nobody else to help. And when you don't have a man on 40 forty acres, so we used to have people come in who are sharecroppers, families that come in to help us. And since we're not making much money, they didn't stay too long. [Laughs] They have to have their own families to take care of. But somehow we survived. One family, I remember, named Yagi, and Mr. George Yagi was a good athlete when he was younger, and he had George, and there was two or three girls and then two or three boys. They eventually stayed in Livingston after being a sharecropper, had nothing. And yet, little by little, they started re-leasing all the lands and they made money, and they are known as the "Sweet Potato King of Central Valley." They ship carloads -- not truckloads -- carloads of stuff out, all over the United States.

TI: So that was one way people could succeed. They would maybe...

FH: Oh, when they do succeed, they do good.

TI: But they could start as a sharecropper and then gradually build from there, to the point where they may lease land and then eventually own land?

FH: Yes. And so I tell folks that I was a dirt farmer, and people say, "What do you mean 'dirt farmer'? Farmers are all dirt farmers." Well, there's a difference. Do you know what the difference between dirt farming and farming?

TI: No.

FH: It means that your house that you live in is dirt. You don't even afford a hard floor. Not even a concrete. That's how poor dirt farmers are. But that's where we were.

TI: If your father had lived, what would have happened? I mean, he would have then farmed that 40 acres, and he would then...

FH: Yeah. Well, if he'd stayed like the rest of the people in Livingston, I say they're all millionaires right now, all the farmers, Livingston. It's worth ten thousand an acre, for sure. Ten thousand dollars an acre.

TI: And they were able to keep that land because they owned it.

FH: If they have it now, I mean, it's all on paper of course. But if my father stayed... but on the other hand, I would have been a different kind of a person. I don't know what I'd be doing, probably farming, and wouldn't be having electricity during the time I'm growing up. No electricity, no paved roads, all outhouses. That's why I say when I moved to San Francisco in 1929, it was like night and day, heaven and earth. I mean, it's just amazing.

TI: Going back to the farm, what kind of crops did, was on your land? What kind of crops did you grow?

FH: What kind of crops? Well, we had grapes, three, four different kinds of grapes, Thompson seedless, Malaga, which is a white grape and the red Malaga. Then they had, we had a couple special trees. We also had about 10 acres of orchard, apricots and plums. Mostly grapes. And there were raisin grapes as well as table grapes. And Tokay was one of the, at the time, very popular. It was a table grape, but also a very good wine. And Thompson, they were seedless, made good raisins. 'Cause Malaga was popular. And they had Cornetians -- I'm not pronouncing these right, but this was the Issei way of saying what the names were, and that's the way I remember. But those are the different kinds of grapes we had.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: And this, you may not remember, but you may know, but I'm curious about the community life at the Yamato Colony in terms of, did they have things like Japanese language schools, did they have the big picnics, all these different things?

FH: Yes. There's something about Livingston that I need to say, and that is that it was a very hostile community. And why Abiko chose there, it was the land that nobody wanted. Lots of sand, no water. And in the desert, it's very hard to raise anything. So even the white farmers didn't want it. So that's why land was available. Abiko was not a farmer, and so he just thought land is land, I guess, I don't know. I never asked him that question. However, the land produced also strawberries, cash crops between the trees and the vines, they used to have to make some money, so they planted soybeans, they planted carrots, daikon, and anything that grows, tomatoes. And so that as cash crop to survive. That's what many farmers did. My dad was into kind of an entrepreneur and did that.

TI: And how about things like, for the children, did they have schools for the children, or Japanese language schools?

FH: Yes, I'm sorry I didn't tell you about... they built a community center, but it was a church. The first thing they built was a church. And they had a -- I mentioned earlier, or maybe I didn't -- there was one room that had a triangle, YMCA. 'Cause the colony was founded by YMCA members and others, of course, joined in, but they were the nucleus. And so that started in San Francisco way back in 1886, which was a strange, strange thing. I couldn't believe that they had a Japanese YMCA in San Francisco, when most of the people started coming from Japan in about 1885. 1886 they had a YMCA. I don't know how it happened, but it's there. Well, my father certainly was part of that, and so they had this center that was about two miles outside of the town, and it's still there. The building, the old building went down, but they have the education building, they have a brand new chapel there, beautiful church. And Livingston was a very hostile place. My mother said there used to be a sign on Highway 99 right outside the town that says, "Japs keep out." That's the kind of welcome they received. And yet in spite of all that, they hung in there. And so the word "gaman" is so, so important here. They gaman and they hung in there, and they sucked it up. They persevered, and today, the church that I was not welcomed in San Francisco, Methodist church, they had to start one in Yamato Colony for the Japanese Methodist church. I think they called it the Grace Methodist Church. Today, it's called the Livingston United Methodist Church. Instead of it being in town, it's at Yamato Colony.

TI: For the whole community.

FH: That's in the whole Livingston. And they're all intermarrying, worship together, pray together, play together, and they have parties together. It's just amazing, integrated community today. I went to their hundredth anniversary, it was amazing.

TI: So Livingston has changed so much in those hundred years.

FH: Yeah, 2006, they had a hundredth anniversary, and I thought that was amazing. In fact, there's a school named after Yamato. Yamato Elementary School. I say Yamato Y, because that's the Yamato Colony.

TI: Oh, interesting.

FH: That is amazing.

TI: I'll have to go out there. I'm curious now. I'll have to go visit.

FH: Oh, yeah, you ought to. And there are a lot of pioneers there. Not many my age left. The oldest guy was, I guess he's 104 or something, his name was Sam Maeda. He just passed away. He was the eldest that left, continued on. There's a Kishi family that's well-known in Livingston, and their daughters and their grandpeople are professors and teachers and doing many things today.

TI: So how about things like picnics and things? Were there community events?

FH: We used to have picnics when the blossoms, you know. I remember, been to many of those picnics, and they take turns in different places and have picnics in different farms in Livingston, yes. And then they used to have a tennis court there. It's amazing. I used to play tennis there when I was a kid. And there was Chaplain Aki, named George Aki, who was now, he is one month older than I am, in better condition, and he cannot play tennis today, but we used to play in Livingston. And the reason they had a tennis court in Yamato Colony, I don't know. It was the only tennis court in the entire county. [Laughs]

TI: Yeah, I've never heard of...

FH: But I guess these Japanese immigrants, YMCA members from San Francisco said, "We should have a tennis court." [Laughs]

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Anything else you can remember from the Yamato Colony that was kind of, maybe interesting or unusual?

FH: Well, there was one thing. Just another incident that I remember when I was about five or six. Father was still alive, he said, "Go release the horses, 'cause I have to look for water." House, the barn was on fire. Some night riders, midnight, came and shot, shotgun shots, and then torched our barn. That was a very, I thought, unfriendly thing to do, but there are those kinds of people. Even today, we have hate crimes, and that was part of that group. We don't know who did it, we just doused the fire and shikata ga nai.

TI: Did the community, because of these hostile acts, did they try to do anything to protect themselves? Do you remember the men trying to do anything?

FH: Not much. In fact, there's a story I read that this is after the war, World War II, many, most of the able-bodied served, they volunteered, 442nd. They come back, and people shoot guns through their houses. After they go and risk their life for this country. That's the kind of people still live in this community. And they're all over, so you can't just blame Livingston. But it doesn't take much to inflame these people. They used to say they were the Okies. Well, that's not quite true, I think. Lot of people that live right next door to you have those feelings hidden underneath. That's why education, that's why this kind of a program is so important to educate the world, yes.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Okay, so I'm going to now kind of shift gears. So your father died...

FH: Yes.

TI: It sounded like for several years --

FH: Well, 1922 he died. November.

TI: And then for a few years you tried to...

FH: So Mother tried for seven years to survive. And finally we lost our farm because we can't even pay the interest of the loan.

TI: And so when you lost the farm, who did you lose it to?

FH: The bank took it over. And so I guess the bank decided that there's no way we're gonna make it. And without a bank, it's not easy. However, there's one thing that I learned. My brother Tom and I, and Tom was a little bit bigger physically than I was. But we were very small, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, we were doing what adult men were doing, kept up with them. Making boxes, plowing, hauling fruit, everything. If we couldn't reach it, we'd get on a box and did it together. But that taught me one thing: if you have a will and you have to do it, you could do it. That's something I learned. But that's what we had to do, and we learned. And so in a way, it seemed like it was difficult, but that was learning, it was school for us. It was a good character building school for us.

TI: How was it for you? So you're the eldest.

FH: Yes.

TI: And the bank says your family can't make a go of it, how did you feel that you had to give up the farm?

FH: Well, we almost lost Mother during this time. She got so sick, I thought she's gonna go for sure. And Abiko's farm, a man that also had tragic in his life, his wife ran off with another man. And he was such a wonderful person, he became our stepfather, Furuhata. And he's from another ken next to Niigata, Nagano-ken where the Olympics were held. And he was such a kind gentleman, father, and he used to be so proud of us. But anyhow, he came and nursed Mother back to health. And then Abiko did all the finding, and he also found an apartment house for us, San Francisco, where we moved, 19'... my gosh, that must have been also December or... it was cold time. November or December of 1929, we moved into San Francisco.

TI: So it was more than just the farm, it was your mother's health, this Mr. Furuhata...

FH: Well, and then when you say how I felt about farm, I didn't know too much about finances and so forth. Mother said we owed eight thousand dollars. Eight thousand dollars for the farm. Today, I could write a check for eight thousand dollars. In those days, it was a life... and so we lost the farm. And I didn't know what to expect, but I guess kind of exciting that you don't have to live in this hovel any longer. So nothing could be worse, so maybe it'd be better life. Although I did enjoy living in Livingston. We used to go fishing, farming, hunting, I had lots of friends.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: Well, how about school? I mean, you talked about the hostile environment in Livingston...

FH: Yeah, we went to school.

TI: When you went to school, there were whites there...

FH: I had, my best friend was Babe Sampson. He was a pitcher, he was a big kid for his age. His father was the chief of police, and they were very kind to us. So there were some good people. There was a Winton family who was a banker and a lawyer, and he was very kind to us, and he helped the community. And so started, Lincoln was a classmate of my third brother John, and they became good friends. So there were a lot of good friends in Livingston, but there are some crazy people in every community. And they're the ones that shoot guns and put up signs that say "Japs keep out." Not many, but a few.

TI: But then how were relations within school? Was that pretty good in terms of...

FH: Oh, yeah. We got along. I became a cheerleader when I was an eighth grader, and I used to play baseball for the school team. And so I felt very comfortable and accepted. I did kind of get embarrassed about bringing Japanese food for lunch, and I thought one big change, I used to eat kind of covertly and not let people see what I'm eating. And yet, today, sushi, everybody loves sushi, nigiri. [Laughs] And then Japanese food today is accepted. But my days, we're ashamed, 'cause we didn't know what people might think. And then I mentioned to you that my birth certificate does not have "Fred" on it. So my initial Yaichiyo, my name, is very important. So when I sign anything, it's "Fred Y. Hoshiyama." The Y represents that I'm a legal, I have a birth certificate to back up my birth.

TI: And where did the name Fred come from?

FH: Well, when I was going to public school, the teacher said, "Yaichiyo Hoshiyama, that's too long. You're Fred." So that's how I got my name Fred, which is okay. And then gave Tom, Tom. Tom was Teruo, but Tom, and John was Susumu. We all got our names not on our birth certificate.

TI: And in a similar way, it was like a teacher gave them...

FH: Yeah, a teacher. And I found out that many of my friends, same thing has happened to them also. When they started going to school, they were given these English names. So that made me feel kind of funny. I say, "Why is eating rice not right?" "Why is having Yachiyo as a name not right?" Psychologically, I think it did something for me, bad, not good. Made me feel inferior.

TI: Interesting. Okay, good.

FH: It took me a while to get over it.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: Any other memories of, like, Livingston? Growing up in Livingston, that you want to share? Before we go to San Francisco, I want to... it seemed like you had a very interesting, and in some cases, rich life.

FH: Well, our neighbor had a big, maybe over a hundred acres. It was Minomi and Takahashi family owned the ranch, and they used to have a camp of laborers living right there on their property. I had a, they gave me a job. Mother asked them, "Give a job to Fred, because he could do anything a man could do." Age twelve, I was making boxes. Hundred thirteen boxes a day, and I was earning one cents a box or something, crates, to ship. And I remember doing that for about two weeks, and that was another learning experience for me, that I can do anything another man can do. And I earned a few dollars, that helped us a lot. Penny meant something, ten cents was a wealth in those days.

TI: So even though you were smaller and younger, you could just stay up with the...

FH: That's right. And so that gave me confidence. That was a wonderful confidence-builder for Fred. So I'm small of stature, but I'm not afraid to confront six-footers.

TI: Talk about your role as the eldest son with your brothers. I mean...

FH: Well, that was... it just, I think because I was the firstborn, I wasn't a very good model, let me put it that way. I could have been a better model for my brothers. I tried. I think I tried to... I remember telling my brothers that to play with their sex organs is not acceptable, 'cause all kids play, you know. They learn curiosity. So that was because I'm the eldest, I felt I should at least take the place of a parent there. But I don't remember too many incidences where... we just kind of grew up. Did the best we could.

TI: Sure.

FH: Yes. So I don't have any stories or remembrance of anything special at this point.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So let's go to San Francisco, where you said it was like night and day.

FH: Oh, yes. For example, I mentioned the fact that we had no electricity. So every day, my job was to clean the lantern and lamps, and trim the wicks for the kerosene, the light, and to gather woods. Every time we want to heat anything, stove, you had to go and get wood and chop it up. If we wanted to eat chicken or anything, we had to go out and kill the chicken and pluck the feathers. Well, when we go to the city, you just go in the butcher shop, buy this, buy that. You drop a nickel in the trolley box, and you go anywhere in San Francisco. On paved road, you don't have to worry about dirt, shoes. Then, you push a button on the wall, behold, this light. Before, you had to spend hours cleaning your lamp, filling kerosene, trimming the wick, here you just push a button, and light. That's just symbolic of the difference in life, from city life to farm life, especially where we were. That doesn't mean that there was no electricity someplace in Livingston, they had some. But we're so remote that our farm did not have electricity 'til later. However, they did have telephone, as I remember. We did have a telephone that's on a three-party line or four-party line, you could listen in when they talk. But it was a cell -- oh, that's why, they had dry cell batteries. That's why they were able to do the telephone.

TI: So in San Francisco when you arrived, you were around fifteen years old.

FH: I was fifteen, yes. I think I was fifteen, and I was in the middle of eighth grade. So I went to Hamilton junior high school, which was near where we lived in San Francisco, and went to school there.

TI: And when you started school there, how was your education? Were you pretty much the same as the other students?

FH: Well, it's a little vague in my mind. I know that it was a new experience. I think I kept up with the other students fairly well, although I wasn't a star student like some of the kids were. I did, when I was in Livingston, with the lamplight, I used to do lots of reading. And I think part of my eye trouble is I strained and abused my eyes, probably. I read all kinds of cowboy stories as I remember, Zane Grey was a popular author at that time, and I used to go the library and read a lot. I loved to read. And I enjoyed going to school; I never regretted or felt bad about school. I thought that was wonderful, 'cause I'm learning new things.

TI: Or how did you fit in? Because here you were, you grew up on a farm, and now you're coming in, all these other boys were city boys...

FH: Well, one thing I had to learn, I have to get a part-time job to survive also, city. And Mother didn't have no skill, so she worked as like a second maid in a home. And my father also was a janitor, and later he worked for the Nichi Bei Times, the newspaper. He'd go around collecting the subscription, those that didn't pay, he had to go collect. But that was a tough job, but he worked hard at it. I got me a... in order to do a paper route, I used to do, sell apples, pencils, newspaper, and deliver newspaper. That was mainly my income, and I worked for Nichi Bei Times, and I had different routes. I was always looking for a better route, meaning higher paying routes. The highest paying route was Route Four that hit all the hills. Nob Hill, Chinatown area of San Francisco. That was the hardest of all the routes, 'cause it's all hills. But I finally got that route. But different people, students would graduate, well, they'd open up, and I'd grab it. So three years I worked as a paper delivery boy.

TI: And this was delivering the Nichi Bei Times?

FH: Yes. I delivered Nichi Bei Times. And so, of course, Abiko's the president, so... although I don't think it was a matter of favoritism, I just worked there, no contact with Abikos after one, first year I lived with them.

TI: But you mentioned Nob Hill and all these hills, so were there Japanese living...

FH: Yeah, they were the cooks, and they were the valets, they were gardeners, you know, housekeepers, and they would take the paper. So I used to deliver here, one every ten blocks or sometimes two, three here. And Chinatown was one of those. I remember Harry Kitano was a kid like this, he became a professor and author and head of the Asian Studies center at UCLA later. I know all his brothers, sisters. His father was a community leader, and I was the president of the JACL in 1952, JACL. And so he and I went raising money to help pass the McCarran Act. That was the McCarran Act of 1952 that made it possible to change immigration laws so that our parents, all Asians, could be eligible to become a naturalized citizen of this country. It didn't happen until 1952, and I remember going to every store, every plant, every... wherever we can in San Francisco.

TI: This is jumping around a little bit, but I'm curious, why would you have to raise money to pass the McCarran Act? This was a federal legislation for immigration. What was the money gonna be used for?

FH: Money talks. Without money, you've got nothing in this world. This world runs on money, unfortunately.

TI: Well, where would the money go to in this case?

FH: Well, I'm not so sure exactly who got the money we raised. It wasn't a whole lot, but we raised the money to send to JACL, and they would then maybe lobby or talk to congressmen here and there, all over, take 'em out to dinner, you wine and dance 'em. That's why the lobbyist today is such a powerful... we're a government of lobbyists today, right now, and that started way back someplace from Jefferson days.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Let's go back now, so you're a paperboy, Nichi Bei Times.

FH: That was for survival.

TI: Yeah. This is during the Depression. Right? This is, like, early '30s.

FH: '30, '31, '32, we were right in the heart of one of the depressions. '23, 1923, '22, '23, Hoover time, was the big depression. Big one.

TI: But wasn't the '29, that was called the Great Depression.

FH: Then '29 was this crash, Wall Street crash.

TI: Right, that caused...

FH: Then the aftermath of that, '30, '31, '32, '33 was still bad, and President Roosevelt had to come in to start War Relocation, no, War Recovery Act, WRA. And then that also provided jobs for students, and I remember I worked twenty-five cents an hour for that program for the college later.

TI: But I'm curious, so you spent a lot of time on the streets delivering papers and selling different things.

FH: Yeah, I did.

TI: I'm just curious what the, the Japanese community, how it was impacted by these hard economic times. What did you see?

FH: Well, I don't know too much about, you know, at that time. I remember there was a YMCA, the same Japanese YMCA that started in 1886. At this point, when I moved there, I joined the YMCA, it was a big house on Sutter Street, 1309 Sutter Street, right off of Franklin, between Franklin and Golf Street. And then I lived, to the Sutter Street, three blocks away I lived. So I used to go to the Y all the time. And the reason I mention the Y was that at that time, YMCA was very, very, they had students and they had a house. Not a building for the Y, no gymnasium. We'd play basketball in attic, which the ceiling was only ten feet high. But we had championship teams. The kids, Japanese kids were fast, and they were well-coordinated. So we used to beat all the white teams in the YMCA. But that's, the Japanese YMCA was important. Same YMCA that I worked in 1941, I finished Berkeley and got my degree, and I tried to go to graduate school. And I got in because I graduated with honors, which means that I had all A's and B's. I had a couple, maybe one C, the rest are all mostly A's. So I was a good student in college. Not grammar school or junior high school, but college I worked hard.

TI: So it sounds like, when you're in San Francisco, you would attend school, but to help the family, you would do these part-time jobs.

FH: Well, not only me, but all my brothers, they all worked.

TI: So what were some things that your brothers did? What were some of the jobs they did?

FH: Well, they did the same thing. They follow what I did.

TI: So delivering papers...

FH: Deliver paper mostly. And then as soon as I graduated in 1933, my youngest brother had just started high school. So three years, four years, I worked at a Japanese import company called the Nippon Goldfish and Tropical Fish import company owned by Japanese, Mr. Murata. It was just a block and a half away from our house on Bush Street. So I got a job there, my brother Tom followed me, my brother John followed after they finished school. So Muratas family were our employer for a while. Then after four years, my youngest brother graduated high school. So now, I said I can go back, continue my education.

TI: Oh, okay.

FH: So I went back in '37, high school, '33.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: Before we go there, what was the work you did for Mr. Murata? What was the... what did you do?

FH: Mostly I did driving, delivering orders. I did some sales, I did picking up cargoes from the ships, I did a lot of that kind of thing. And I didn't know this 'til later, but Mr. Murata's father was in his eighties when I started. He was quite an alert eighty as I think back. But the point is, Koji was also a UCLA graduate. He was about 1909, about five years older than me. Now, Koji was supposed to go and contact Montgomery Ward, Sears & Roebuck, W.T. Grant, Woolworth company. These are corporate, you know, sale place. He says, "Fred, I want you to go and make contact." I'm just a kid out of high school, okay? I know nothing about making visits to these corporations. I knew no better, but he said that's my job. He told me later he was supposed to do it, but he was scared. He said, "Fred will do anything, so send him." And so I went, opened up accounts with these companies so we could sell goldfish and food supplies and aquarium system. I didn't think anything about it. Koji later says, "Fred, I have a confession. You did so well. I was supposed to do that, you did it and you weren't scared." In those days, it was unusual for Japanese Americans to try to do anything outside of their small community because they were not accepted or they felt they're gonna be rejected unless you're just dumb enough and didn't know, like me. So I'd just go there without thinking about it.

TI: Well, so what made you different? What made you more bold or more able to go out beyond the community?

FH: Well, I think one is that going back to when I was twelve, making these crates, and I did it just same as another man full, to full-grown man, and I kept up with him. I said, well, I can do what he can do. So just self-confidence.

TI: Now, as you did this, were there times when it was hard, or that you failed?

FH: Oh, I failed many times.

TI: So talk about that. What did you learn from some of your failures?

FH: [Laughs] I said the word "gaman" meant so much. Mother taught us three, three concepts when we were in Livingston growing up, no father. Gaman, you got to hang in there; two, there are times when you just have to accept and go on, shikata ga nai. The ability to do something, the solutions is one, nai, shikata ga nai. And then the third is you have to pay back, giri, obligations, don't ever forget. Especially our case, so many people helped us. Personal obligations and to society, 'cause, "No one makes it alone," she said. And she's so right. She wasn't a big lady, but she had good smarts. And so those three concepts helped me. Going back to why, I remember all those concepts that she taught us, and they helped me. When things were rough, I'd just say, "Hey, just got to hang in there, Fred. Something will change. Better tomorrow." So that's also optimistic approach to life, and that's very important. Don't give up, hang in there.

TI: But do you remember as a, especially as a young man, when you were first starting out in this business, a failure, in that you had to gaman?

FH: Well, many times I felt, gee, I wished I had a father like the other families. But I used to order some stuff and sell salves, you know, going around selling salves to the neighbors. And it was only fifty cents, but they would buy it because, "Poor Fred, no father. Sure, we'll buy one." And I used to sell those to make a few cents here, a few cents there. And enough money to buy bullets for our .22 to shoot robins when they were perching at night. I still feel bad about, they would come at nighttime in the cherry tree, and they'd roost four or five in a row. So you get a right angle, one bullet would drop two, three birds. If you hit 'em, of course, you've got to hit 'em. [Laughs]

TI: So you were pretty handy with a rifle.

FH: Rifle, fishing yeah. Hunting, yeah, we did all that. That's the fun part of growing up in Livingston. I missed all that in San Francisco.

TI: So you mentioned the hardships of not having a father. Can you remember something where a father really would have been helpful?

FH: Well, one certainly is that father took you places. We have to go anywheres, we have to go on our own. And we have to hitch up a horse and go on the sled or a buggy. Some of the homes had cars, automobiles. Now, father alive, maybe he could have afford automobile. Mother finally bought a Ford, I remember, before we left. That was just started. That was '29 or maybe '28, 'cause she got sick '29. Yeah. Well, but that's part of growing up, and I think all these experiences strengthen you inside. So I feel good about that. You know, people say, "I wouldn't change a thing." If I could, I wouldn't even change it. Because what you are is what you are, and that's it.

TI: Okay, so let's continue. So you worked four years for Mr. Murata.

FH: Yeah.

TI: And then your brother took your place.

FH: Well, my brother took my place after a couple of years. I mean, he joined, joined me. He and I worked together for a while. But after fourth year, I was able to go back to school. So I started at San Francisco College. And because of this tennis court, okay, tennis court, I knew how to play tennis. So I played tennis and got a block SF, which is a varsity letter. In those days, Niseis wait teams, like a circle SF, not a block SF. But I was a young, small Nisei that got a block letter. Very few Nisei could do it, 'cause they're small. I'm small, but I was on the team, and we won championship. I'm not good. I was the sixth man on a six-man tennis team, but we had the city doubles, national doubles junior champion, we had a city, A mark with the city, singles champion. So we had one single for sure and a doubles sure. Somehow, we won the championship. I may have lost all my matches, but the rest of the team won.

TI: So you were a varsity tennis player on a college team.

FH: Absolutely. I did that in high school, got my block letter. But in college, it starts to divvy up. There were better players. But I was able to be on the championship team, tennis, so that helped me. [Laughs]

TI: Now did, back then, did they give you any money for being on the sports teams or on...

FH: Oh, no money.

TI: So there's no scholarship or anything like that.

FH: No. Those days, I've never heard of those things.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: So how did you afford going to college?

FH: How can I afford it? Berkeley was twenty-five dollars a semester. Today, it's thousands of dollars. Those, my days, twenty-five dollars. One dollar for breakage, science courses, chemistry, twenty-six dollars a semester. That's two semesters every year, twenty-five, twenty-six, fifty-two dollar is all the tuitions. Then for room and board, I get a job working in a family. I prepare breakfast, wash dishes, clean the house once a week, serve breakfast every morning, and supper every night, and clean up, then you get room and board. So all your expenses are paid, and they give you a dollar a week for car fare. So I, instead of taking the car, I walk about a mile and a half. Just start up earlier and come home later. But I miss the social life on the campus 'cause I have to work. That's the one thing I missed, the campus life. Otherwise, I enjoyed college.

TI: Yeah, but that's how you afford it, so you worked your way through...

FH: We all did, most of us. Most Niseis worked their way through, yeah. Unless they were children of able, wealthy parents. We had quite a few that came from Los Angeles, went to Berkeley. Carl Tamaki was, became head of the Water and Power here, he passed away, Carl, heart. Shoichi Fukui, the largest funeral here, Fukui Mortuary.

TI: But these were from Los Angeles, they had more money...

FH: Yeah. They lived on the campus, and I remember they were freshmen when I was a senior. They all passed away, so I lost all my friends.

TI: So you had to work hard to get your college education.

FH: Well, I...

TI: Well, the question I want to ask is, so, why? What did you want to do with a college education?

FH: Well, I didn't know exactly. I wanted to go into social work, and I applied. My grades were good, I told you, so I got in easy. But Dean Chernan, of the head of the Social Work Department, Dr. Chernan said, "Mr. Hoshiyama, I want to talk to you." I go and see him and he says, "Why do you want to get a master's? It's going to take you two years, and you can't use it. I knew that. You couldn't get jobs in those days.

TI: Because you were Nisei, you were Japanese American?

FH: Japanese American. And there was no jobs, nada. And yet I said, "You never know, it might open up, and I'll be ready when it opens up." He said, "It ain't gonna open up for a long time. It's better you get a job instead of going... you're in, so that's not the issue. I just want to talk to you about it because I think you are wasting two good years of your life, and you already lost four years."

TI: Because even with your bachelor's, you would not get a job in your field?

FH: That's right. The only job available was fifty dollars a month, either in the fruit stand or some other job like that, you know, in a florist department. However, you could work for another Japanese firm, and there are some jobs like that, but there aren't very many. Or you start your own business, but that takes capital. So those are the options, three options in those days.

TI: So again thinking of your upbringing, the hard work, so what were you thinking? Why would you even go get a master's?

FH: Well, I decided that if I got my master's in social work, it was kind of vague, but I was hoping for hope that something will open up, and I could work and work with people. I enjoyed working with people. I didn't think that I'd be working for YMCA, 'cause I didn't see any job at the YMCA, I would have loved that. And lo and behold, in May, Mr. Tomizawa come to visit my mother and says, "We'd like to ask Fred to come and work for the Japanese YMCA, and we want to ask your permission for us to approach Fred." That's a Japanese custom. I didn't know that, but he talks to my mother to give me a job. So of course Mother's happy that I'm considering it. That's an honorable job because that serves the community. And I just grabbed it. And so June 1st I started at the same Japanese YMCA that started Yamato Colony. And I said, "This is strange, but somehow God has a hand in this." I was born there, my father was member of the Japanese YMCA in San Francisco, and now I'm going to be working at the same Japanese YMCA where I kind of grew up when I was a kid. That was fun, too.

TI: But on their part, they probably saw the same thing. Here's Fred whose father started here...

FH: It could be.

TI: ...he grew up with the YMCA, he would be the perfect person.

FH: I don't know about that. But that's the best thing that ever happened to me. That opened up vistas for me and gave me good experience. And my first job was to take, recruit and take kids to camp, summer. And had a wonderful experience there. Then Pearl Harbor came. So right after that, we had to stop doing programs. People come to the Y for help, so we published a street paper, get all the latest information, tried to weed out the rumors versus what's true, and go see the FBI and find out what's actually happening, at Whitcomb Hotel, then we'd mimeograph this street paper, both in Japanese and English, and give it out to the people.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Okay, so Fred, we're going to start the second hour. And where we left off, you had just started at the YMCA June 1, 1941.

FH: Correct.

TI: And then you had talked about starting programs, but then the war started. Let's go back to that day, December 7, 1941. Do you recall that day?

FH: I sure do. I was, I went to see a movie that day, and I was downtown. Come out of the movie, people, newspapers. "Pearl Harbor, war with Japan. War with Japan." I said, "My gosh. War with Japan? I'm Japanese. Wow, what's going to happen?" I rush home, and then put on the radio, listen to what's happening. Nothing but just Pearl Harbor, Pearl Harbor. Anyhow, that was a scary moment. I thought, "Wow, what's going to happen to us?" In those days, I never thought that I was a Japanese, I was American. Short time later, we're trying to survive, and YMCA, I go to work, report to work. And then everybody's concerned about what's going to happen to them. So we said, "Bring extra rice and foodstuffs, and we'll distribute them from here." We told the people, if they're in dire need, "Come to the Y and we'll try to help you," social service. So we became that kind of a place. "The gymnasium is still open if somebody wants to come and shoot basketball." So happened that we tried to gather clothing and food and newspaper, street sheets, to go out to tell the people what's happening. So we did that from about December, January. In the meantime, February 19th...

TI: Before we go there, I want to ask you a little bit more. So the social service part, so you collected food, clothing...

FH: Food, mostly rice and that kind of stuff, tsukemono.

TI: So in the community, who was struggling? Who needed the food?

FH: Whoever needed it, come and get it.

TI: And so why would they need this more now than before?

FH: Well, one is many people lost their job immediately. And curfew come up and say, "You can't travel more than ten miles out." You can't leave town. We're kind of a prisoner within the city, within J-town. And then those who live outside used to, they're isolated, so they used to call up and say, "Hey, what's happening? What's gonna happen to us?" No one knew. Lincoln Kanai was my boss. Mr. Tomizawa in the meantime retired. After giving me a job, he retired. And so Mr. Lincoln Kanai from Hawaii was the CEO, and he said he goes every day to Whitcomb Hotel, and he got to know the head of the FBI, personal basis, and he says, "They don't know. They don't know what's gonna happen." So what little he knew, we'd print it, send it out to the people, so to allay fears if we could. But no question, it was fear unknown, not knowing the future, and that was a very difficult time.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: And how did you coordinate with other Japanese American organizations like the churches, JACL? I mean, was there any coordination with the other groups?

FH: You know, at that time, I was so busy at the Y. We tried to live normally as possible. There was a store right in the middle of J-town called the... there was a bookstore right in the corner, and they had a glass showcase window. So we used to post notices on that, and they used to get newspapers, the Japanese papers used to publish what they can. And I think probably because of our connection with the FBI, Lincoln Kanai, he was able to get more governmental information than anybody else. And so I don't remember... we still go to church on Sundays. Everything, life kept on going as much as possible, try to be normal.

And we tried to, not knowing what's going to happen, the JACL had a national meeting in the Kimon Hall right on Bush street, I was there. And they decided that our best policy as JACL is to cooperate with the government, because we didn't know what's going to happen to our Issei parents. They could line 'em up and shoot us. We never thought that we would be affected, 'cause we're citizens. And yet, we were part of the total, "aliens and non-aliens." That's what, those exact words that DeWitt used.

TI: And so the non-aliens were citizens.

FH: Absolutely. Instead of saying "citizens," euphemism. That's, we're good at that. And so I just feel that we're living in that kind of world where we have to make the best we can in a reality world. And yet, we have our ideals and we have our hopes and dreams, and somehow we're trying to marry our dream with the reality. But that was the time that it was so uncertain of what's going to happen. And so many people after the war, after the war, now, ten years later, blame JACL for this, this, this. I wish they were there at that meeting when we didn't know what's going to happen to us. When it seemed that we're gonna have our parents all shot. At that moment, what their decision would have been. Today, it's easy to talk back, and I see a lot of third generation speaking out. They have their right, that's okay. But they should also listen carefully to the times and what we faced, and they're not listening to that. They just see one side. And so there's a split in our community which is terrible. But that's something that happens in other situations.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: Before we go there, I want to learn more about this meeting. So when you went to this meeting...

FH: JACL meeting.

TI: JACL national meeting.

FH: I was there.

TI: Were you there as a representative --

FH: No, not a representative, just as a person.

TI: Okay, so it was like --

FH: Of course, I'm a YMCA worker, but...

TI: Right. Was it open to everyone, or just... I'm trying to figure out who was there.

FH: No, no. They had this summit meeting, so to speak. We didn't call... "summit" is a new word. Summit health right now. That's a brand-new word in the 2000's. We never heard of summit before.

TI: It was just a meeting, a national meeting.

FH: It was a national JACL, got all the leaders together.

TI: And so who was there? When you say national, were people from Seattle...

FH: Sure, Seattle, all over.

TI: ...Chicago, everywhere.

FH: They came in.

TI: And about how many people?

FH: Those that could come. And Mike Masaoka was the main person that they listened to, and there was George Inagaki and there was, I remember some of these people.

TI: And about, roughly about how many people were there?

FH: Oh, at that meeting? There in the Kimon Hall, maybe forty to forty-five. Yeah, as I remember, yeah.

TI: Yeah, I'm curious to know as much as I can about this meeting. So Mike Masaoka was in charge of the meeting?

FH: Well, he was the national president. And a lot of people condemn him, and I hear this often, but they were not there. And I think that if they were there, they would temper their harsh decision about Mike. They said he sold us down the river, so to speak, and that we were traitors. Now, there's something else I hear said. He pointed fingers at people, had FBI pick them up. That I don't know. I can't vouch for that, 'cause that's something beyond my ken of understanding. I don't think he did that, but people are people, and I don't know.

TI: But tell me about, like, the mood. So you have about thirty, forty people at this meeting.

FH: Yeah, and we're all blind leading the blind. We don't know what's gonna happen. But Mike said that we are citizens, and we have a right to be citizens, and our job is to be strong citizens, support whatever the country needs, we support it. That's what Mike said. His proclamation, we live in a better America, something, for better Americans. "Better America for better Americans," yes. I think we owe a lot to people like Min Yasui, Mike Masaoka. His brother Joe was the regional director of JACL after the war. And son, Mark, still lives in Los Angeles.

TI: And what was the date of this meeting? What was the, when did this happen?

FH: Gosh, that's a good question. I don't know.

TI: So I think, I'm trying to remember. It seemed like it was maybe in February. Wasn't it right before...

FH: It had to be February, yes, of course.

TI: Because at this point, how much discussion was it about what the government was thinking of doing in terms of removing people?

FH: At the time, as I remember, the information given or talks, no one really knew what's going to happen, but we had to take a stance for the sake of our future, especially the sake of our parents. And that's, seemed to be a big concern for us at that time. And so we said, "What is the best policy under this situation?" And so we took the policy of cooperation instead of going to jail like some did, which was great.

TI: And when you say "cooperation," was it with the understanding that cooperation may be being moved to camps, inland camps?

FH: Well, we didn't even know that at this point. But then as that came out, we agreed that we would go ahead and cooperate instead of becoming a sore thumb. Or else we could have took a stand, and that could have hurt them, some of the people by saying, "They're traitors. Not citizens, they're traitors, they're Japs."

TI: Now, within that meeting was there any dissention? Were there people who maybe challenged Mike and says, "Mike, are you sure you want to do this?" Was there any of that?

FH: Well, there was a lot of discussion, but not, I didn't hear any strong challenge because they felt that to challenge indicates that we're traitors, that we are for Japan. And that was an easy step to fall into, right or wrong, yes.

TI: And what was the age of the people in this room? Were these all Nisei?

FH: Sure, they were all Niseis.

TI: And who was, was Mike about the oldest?

FH: Very few Sanseis at that time, very, very few.

TI: Because at this point, you're a young man, you're just...

FH: Well, I was twenty-six, maybe seven. Not that young.

TI: And were you about the average age or were you older or younger?

FH: Well, I think probably I was pretty much older, older of the group, elder of the group. Not oldest, but there were some people, I think it was Okada, some from Salt Lake City was here, and Seattle.

TI: Like Jimmy Sakamoto?

FH: Sakamoto.

TI: Clarence Arai?

FH: Clarence Arai, probably. I don't know about Jimmy, 'cause I met Jimmy in the '30s. So this was way before that. I mean, this happened after I met him. See, Jimmy was involved when we started JACL. That was about '30, '31 maybe, '32.

TI: Now, besides Mike Masaoka, do you recall any other speakers that you remember that impressed you, what they said?

FH: There was a guy named Dr. Nishikawa... mostly Mike did most of the talking. And everybody listened to Mike, 'cause he was the guru of the Japanese, JACL.

TI: And at this point, was Mike still based in Utah, or was he...

FH: Yeah, I'm sure that they had an office in Utah at the time, although I don't know. This, why we met in Kimon Gakuen, that's Japanese school, it's 220 Bush Street -- no, no. 200 something 6, Bush Street.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: So I've heard a lot about Mike Masaoka, I've read things about him, but I never met him or anything. Describe him. What was it about Mike Masaoka that made people follow him?

FH: Mike, number one, had a pretty good mind. He understood he was at college. He was a tremendous speaker. He was a artist of words, and he could just talk and talk and convince Congress. He could talk and make, change people's minds. He was amazing. He was a persuader, an orator, a great orator. And I think he won many prizes as orator in college, yes. He was a very, I would say average-looking but attractive human being, young man. Medium height, he was about five-six maybe, seven. Yeah. And he could talk about human rights very well. He was well-versed, well-educated, and very committed, yes.

TI: How about his personality, his character? What did you know about that?

FH: Well, that I can't speak to too well. I knew of a lady that worked with his, in his office in D.C. after he started his consulting firm, legal consulting firm, and he helped a lot of people, renunciants, get their citizenship back, that kind of thing. Name is Mary Toda, a personal family friend from Watsonville. And Mary Toda is still alive. Every once in a while we talk over the phone, she lives in New Jersey in a place called Lane Meadows, in a retirement home that another Livingston, Yamato Colony guy named Moriuchi, he's still alive. And he was a farmer in Livingston, and he started this community. He and his father went to New Jersey to farm from camp, and did well. Did very well.

TI: It's interesting how well so many people from Livingston...

FH: Oh, he grew apples and he made lots of money, seven hundred acres. His son Fred, married to a German woman, still runs the farm there.

TI: Interesting.

FH: And Tak Moriuchi, Tak and my youngest brother Willie, same age. And he used to come and visit here in Los Angeles, 'cause he married a Los Angeles girl, Yuri, who was a teacher of ikebana. And she goes all over the world judging ikebana. Yuri Moriuchi.

TI: So let's go back now. So after that meeting, what happened next?

FH: Well, when we decided as the JACL, this is our position, that's it. So whenever anything comes up, many people just follow, right?

TI: And how did the JACL, like Mike, communicate with all these people after the meeting?

FH: Well, the newspapers were there, Hokubei, Nichi Bei, and so they would publish every word, and people would get it, I guess.

TI: And so Mike would, whenever he wanted to get the word out, he would use the newspapers.

FH: And we had JACL paper called the Pacific Citizen, Harry Honda, editor.

TI: Now, was Harry the editor then?

FH: Now, that's a good question.

TI: I think it was Tajiri?

FH: Larry Tajiri, what a memory. I remember his wife, San Jose girl. Larry Tajiri, that's right. He also worked... that's right, Larry Tajiri.

TI: So it was through the Pacific Citizen that they could keep people informed what was happening.

FH: It was the house paper, Pacific Citizen, correct. Still surviving. Nichi Bei Times went out. Seattle had a Japanese paper?

TI: Yes, they still have the North American Post.

FH: It's still going?

TI: Still going.

FH: How are they doing it?

TI: Tomio Moriguchi is the publisher, and he's...

FH: Tomio?

TI: Yeah, Tomio. So he's, I mean, he's, yeah, I think still the chairman of Uwajimaya.

FH: One time, Tomio came to Los Angeles, and he hired a consultant to fundraise, and he says, "Fred, we want to come and talk to you." And we met near the airport. I still remember that meeting. Tomio. So I said, "Tomio, how come you know me?" "I don't, but I heard about you." "So I'm glad you're here." And then we had this girl from, she's... oh, my gosh. She ran this operation out of D.C., and she just retired. But she's from Portland, I think, what's her name? You should interview her, too. But you interviewed Tomio?

TI: Yes.

FH: Oh, good. So I got to know him.

TI: Right.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: So after that meeting at that JACL meeting, so things started to happen. So --

FH: Well, I didn't say started to happen. The government issued stuff, and then they started posting information, and the newspaper kept going, they kept up as long as they're able to continue, until they were closed down. But they posted information, certain communities such as Bainbridge and San Pedro here had twenty-four hours to get ready to leave. And then we were noticed, I mean, there was a list. Marysville, Merced, such and such, San Francisco, and start listing when they have to. So in two weeks, we have to, we knew end of March or April, that our turn came. And so that's what kept us busy trying to survive until we have to leave. We had no choice but to do it, shikata ga nai. And therefore, all we did was just try to get rid of the stuff we had. Nobody wants to buy it except they knew we had to give it up, so they wait, wait, wait. So finally we said, "Okay, take it free." Pianos, dollar. Just, just makes you cry, but that's what happened.

TI: So you had all your personal things to take care of?

FH: Yeah.

TI: What about the YMCA? What was going on with them?

FH: We... that was used as one of the assembly spots, second. First is Kimon Gakuen, the next, the YMCA was the spot. Little closer to their residence. We just locked up the YMCA, put a padlock on it on April 28th, and boarded the bus and went to Tanforan.

TI: Now, was the YMCA used to store things?

FH: No. We just didn't use it to store things because the government said, "We will store it for you free of charge." But I don't trust the government that don't trust us. So we, very few people used the government. Those that did got their stuff back intact. That much the government did. They found a warehouse and did it. So you had to take it there somehow and get the receipt. Our neighbor said, "We'll take your stuff," so we, our valuables, we left with him in his basement, but it got all ransacked. People know this, it got ransacked, so we didn't get anything back. I lost, the thing I lost most was my block SF in the sweater that I got. [Laughs] Of all the small things, and it wasn't important. That was important to me at the time. Our silverware was gone, so we just had to start from scratch when we returned here.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: And so you mentioned how the YMCA was an assembly place for people to go.

FH: Yeah. It was assembly for the second, second round of people going to camp, Tanforan. Must have been one week later. I went on the first group, and then I have a story to tell you about camp life that was just interesting. When we first got there, that's April 28th, 29th, it rained that day. And then the kids were just lost. Thousands of kids just roaming around. It's a concentration camp, nothing there except racetrack. And the kids just tossing things around, and some of them were Japanese YMCA members. We were just talking 'cause we knew each other. And we said, "Too bad about us, but those kids, worse. It's a shame. We got to do something for the kids." So one thing led to another, somebody said, "Yeah, we should maybe do Y program for the kids. Come on, Fred." [Laughs] I just got there. So we decided that we would ask YMCAs on the outside to see if they could loan us used sports equipment, and we could play soccer, basketball, different things. We made a few phone calls, I went to the commandant and I said, "Hey, if you don't do something for the kids, you're going to have trouble on your hands." "Oh, we don't want no trouble, we want to work with you." So I said, "I need to make a few phone calls." "Sure, here it is." So I called my friends on the outside in the YMCA. Few days later, carloads, carloads, pickup trucks. Basketballs, shoes, t-shirts, socks, all kinds of equipment. Piano, hymnals, craft stuff, all came in. We had a full-blown YMCA without walls, without staff, just the spirit of trying to help kids. That, to me, was a marvelous thing to experience. People have that goodness in their heart, and within a couple weeks, we had leagues going and we had all the kids involved. And then some of the other camp says, "How'd you guys do that?" Because they were in the same boat. And told the story, so they did the same kind of stuff and got things going. It's amazing what idea could spread, even in spite of the fact that we're behind barbed wire fence, and armed guard, and lights twenty-four hours a day.

TI: And so how did you feel when you saw those first cars coming with all the equipment and the shirts and all that?

FH: I said, I said to myself, "There are some good people out there." This, what's happening to us is not America. This is some few people, like the guys that torch our barn, not the majority. Lot of people don't even know about it. That's America, and yet, that's what happens. And I don't have the answer, but I felt good that we got that kind of support and contact. And a few days, they all worked hard, got the stuff to us.

TI: Now, how did you get organized? Because this was bigger than the YMCA, there were a lot more kids there, lot more things.

FH: No problem. They were all looking for something to do. The people had nothing to do, they got no job. So easy to recruit people to say, "Come and help us." "Oh, sure, what can I do?" "I know how to teach, I'll teach kids how to..." It just worked out, just quick, quick, quick. Of course, I know a little bit about organization 'cause I worked with the Y. So what I learned, and we had a core group of people, and just ditto, worked out fine.

TI: Now, you made these calls to your friends and other YMCAs, did national YMCA help?

FH: Yeah, they came in later when we went to the permanent camp like Topaz. National Y, now, went to all the camps and helped. Yes, they did. The YMCA's international and it is inclusive for all people. But the spirit is healthy spirit, mind and body, for all people. That's what the Y is about. It's Christian principles, but Japan is less than one percent Christian, and yet, two of the largest YMCA in the world, Osaka and -- not Tokyo -- Yokohama, in budget size. A non-Christian nation, YMCA is the biggest? How come? Because the spirit of the Y is all-inclusive.

TI: Good.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: Going back to Tanforan, any other memories or stories about Tanforan?

FH: Well, not so much except that the one thing that I noticed, people lose things. So I said, "What we need here is kind of a center for lost and found." And the second thing I said, "People just came with what they could carry, and they're now asking how can they order some stuff? We need a catalog, Montgomery-Ward and Sears and Roebucks so they can order." So we got those books and kind of hut to, one of those little place, little barrack.

TI: So it became like a little, little ordering place.

FH: So we started the Center for Lost and Found and Ordering. And that was the first week we got that going, I still remember that. Second thing I remember was that there's people in the other world, outside world, that owned the hotel, owned businesses, big shots, in camp they're just a number and nobody even talked to them. I said, the same people, big shots over there, and everybody would kowtow, here in camp, there's no longer the powerful person. I said, "Boy, power is fleeting, circumstantial." Now we're all equal, we're just numbers. Before, they had all this influence. They'd get jobs, they'd get cars. So I noticed that. That's the second thing I noticed.

TI: And what did you think about that? Was that kind of a good feeling, or what did you...

FH: Well, I just thought that... well, I just thought, "That's the reality of life." And so just kind of... but I do remember thinking about that.

TI: How power and money...

FH: And the people that were powerful out there, you'd expect them to wield their influence to help the camp? No. They're lost. So circumstances changes the influence of individuals. Therefore, if you depend on wealth to give you power, well, if the wealth is a value there, but here it isn't, and money's equal. We get free food, free lodging, so you don't need wealth.

TI: So in those circumstances, what was important? If it wasn't wealth or money or connections, what were the important things?

FH: We're willing to serve and care. Love and caring was important. And this is why I have spoken to thousands, ten thousand people in, throughout the United States. My message, my message is that bombs and war will beget more bombs and war. The only answer for one safe world, a secure world, is love, fellowship, and caring. I don't know any other answer. So whenever I have a chance to get on a platform, that's my message. I put it different ways, but that's the message. You'll get tired of hearing me.

TI: [Laughs] Okay, back to Tanforan, you were talking about things you remembered. The second thing you mentioned was the, how wealth and power...

FH: Well, I just, yeah, it didn't count in camp.

TI: Right.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: So what else did you see in Tanforan?

FH: Well, that's what made me feel that's so important for human beings to have something that's constant and it doesn't depend on wealth. Now...

TI: Well, let me ask you about your --

FH: Culture is so important in camp, Art. Like Chiura Obata had class always overfilled, and he was teaching them about art. He had art class. And my job, part of my job became working for recreation department when I was at Tanforan. After I did all these thing, now we're getting more organized. We've got our government going, we have block meetings, and each block has a manager. And then, eventually, eventually, we would have a right to self-government, which the government was smart enough to let us have. So we had our own self-government. And so I thought Japanese are pretty well-organized, and they're pretty good organizers, yeah.

TI: Now, when you had self-government, was there any friction in terms of who should be in charge?

FH: Always.

TI: Who should be making the decisions?

FH: Yeah. There was always friction.

TI: So describe some of that. What were some of the issues?

FH: Well, I wasn't involved too much in those issues. I was more involved in getting activities started. So like get the art people together. We even had, we even had girls selling favors for those tickets. We'd get tickets, rations, and it's good for a certain amount of dollars. And girls... well, they say prostitution is the oldest business in the world. It happens in camp, too. And so, 'cause I knew about this, but I said, "How'd they pay for it?" They gave 'em their rations, and the girls could sell it for money.

TI: And so when you found out about this, what...

FH: Nothing. I can't do anything about it. That's private life, right?

TI: So there wasn't a...

FH: But my job was to know what's happening and what the needs are. And we tried to do programs for different age groups, and we ran the treasure hunts in camp, we ran leagues, we ran horseshoe contests, we had boxing contests, every Friday night we'd put on a show. And Goro Suzuki was a good singer, and he was part of this, we called ourselves the Cosacks. We made a chorus line. [Laughs] And I did a stand-up comedy with Tora Ichiyasu, Haramaki was the nickname, and every Friday we'd get up there and try to do some kind of a... so did those kind of things. But it was kind of fun.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

FH: Then also, I was at Berkeley, had just finished Berkeley. There was a Dr. Thomas. Dr. Thomas, I think Dorothy Thomas. She wrote The Spoilage or something? Well, she wrote from the stuff that several of us, she got three camps, I think. And she got what I call observers, and we would, like a diary, write everything that happened in camp and give it to her.

TI: And so you were one of those diary writers?

FH: So I was a very bad one. I was so busy with something else that I didn't do a good job.

TI: And how did Dr. Thomas contact you?

FH: Well, she came into camp and asked for recruits. And I guess she would come in and talk to people and sit down, and, "Who can we ask?" I met Doris Hayashi, she got people from Cal. We were classmates. And there was Roy something, there were about four or five. And then two of them went to another camp from Topaz, and they were -- I mean, from Tanforan, and they were given permission to do this study.

TI: So Dorothy Thomas had enough clout, I guess, to say, "Okay, here's a team, can I have two of these people go to another camp?"

FH: She did. She did that, right. And then two went over to Arizona, as I remember. Roy, and there were Berkeley people. And there was a Charlie Kikuchi who was from Vallejo, and he was in our camp. I didn't know him until he joined this. He was kind of the leader. He wrote a book about it, and Charlie Kikuchi went and married Amemiya, a girl named Amemiya, who was a protegee of Graham, the dance teacher in New York City, famous. And Charlie passed away, but he was quite the consultant.

TI: And so what were kind of your instructions? What kind of things were you supposed to write about?

FH: Just anything that you observed that you just... just, she wanted to know how you felt and what you saw. Mine Okubo, the artist, she was there at the time. I didn't know her well, 'til later I got to know her.

TI: And then when you finished writing a diary, then you would just turn it in?

FH: Every week she'd come and pick it up, and talk. And we'd sit down and talk and said what was unusual this week and what did you see, what's happening. So some of those people were very, very attentive and concentrated, but I was a very loose cannon. And I didn't think much about the value of doing this, so I didn't do a good job.

TI: And how did other people react to you and the others taking notes and sharing this with...

FH: They don't know. So I was almost going to say we're kind of spies. Well, we were. It was open book, but people didn't know that we were doing this. I mean, it wasn't a daily news, it was just... some people knew, it was not a secret, but it was a small group that did this in several camps.

TI: Did the people, the note takers, did you guys ever talk amongst yourself in terms of why you were doing it, or if it was...

FH: Well, I'm sure she must have explained why. I didn't... I did it, but I didn't do a good job. I didn't do much. There's about eighty pages of what I put together for Tanforan and Topaz that's in the Bancroft Library at UC. I didn't know that. I finally got guilty, so I put something together and sent it to Dorothy Thomas, and she put it into the library. [Laughs] Someone, Art Hansen, he brought the whole thing, eighty-five pages, he made a copy and he brings it to me. I said, "Oh, no. I don't remember doing it." I didn't remember doing that. And he says, "You wrote it, Fred, 'cause your name's there." I read it. At first, I read it, I said, "Gee, this is not bad. Pretty good writing." That's my first thing. Then I see some personal things about my father and my, you know, my first father and my second father, and so I said, "It had to be me writing this." Little by little... they say people forget. That's, it does happen, actually. It happened to me. I put it away, and sometimes unfortunate or trauma, you try to forget it. I must have tried to forget it because it didn't come back. And now I accept it, but at that time, I just, I don't remember ever, I don't know when I had the time to do it.

TI: When you went back and when Art Hansen showed you those eighty-five pages...

FH: He brought it to me, yeah.

TI: ...and you read it, did it bring back memories?

FH: It did.

TI: And what kind of feelings did you have when those memories came back?

FH: Well, I said, first I said, "This is well-written, pretty good writing. It's not me." And secondly, it's lot of personal kind of stuff, but it was a very objective kind of reporting for me. You could get the little bit, selves. So I didn't really feel a strong sense of ownership.

TI: Okay, that was interesting.

FH: Still at Bancroft. It's someplace, my copy's someplace, but I don't know. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: And so how long were you at Tanforan?

FH: Not long. I volunteered, I was, get there April 28th, I left September 9th on a volunteer to help set up Topaz. And then there's a very interesting story about this. There's a guy, I went to Topaz September 9th, arrived there, I guess I left earlier, maybe three days or four days earlier, arrived there September 9th, who meets me but a guy named Lorne Bell. Lorne Bell is the administrator, associate head man for Topaz. He was Caucasian. He used to work for the YMCA, and he worked for the YMCA after camp. But he saw a lot of kids that he was working with in southwest Los Angeles, Long Beach. They were being pulled away and sent away to Manzanar. So he quit his Y job, he said, "I want to stay with my boys." He quit his job, resigned, and applied to go to Manzanar so he could keep working with his kids. Lo and behold, it's all bureaucracy. They sent him, not to Manzanar, but Topaz where he knew nobody. So he started looking at the roster of people coming in, eight thousand, nine thousand. "Fred Hoshiyama, YMCA." He waited for me to show up. And he says, "I'm Lorne Bell." I said, "I've heard of you." I never met the man before, "I heard of you." Lorne Bell was one of the leaders in the movement, and he told me his story. Well, long and short of it is, he introduced me to the director, his boss, Ernst, Charles Ernst, head of the Topaz, September 9th. Okay. Ernst says, "Fred, we want to be as helpful as we can for the inmates coming in. In a few days, they'll be coming in by carloads. You guys are here to help set up the camp." So we were there early, two or three weeks, try to get the thing going. And then, lo and behold, he says, "I want you to greet the people. Each trainload that come in, every night, I want you to introduce me to the group. That's all, yeah. Using me as the front man. They knew me from Hanamaki at camp, you know, I used to do the stand-up stuff. And others, of course, the Y people knew me. And that's my connection with Lorne Bell. I couldn't get a job on the mainland after the war, 1945, camp is over. Lorne Bell is in Honolulu now. He's back in the YMCA. And I get off the ship -- I couldn't get on the plane, I get knocked off, knocked off, knocked off, finally I got over there. I couldn't get a job on the mainland, I had twelve interviews, not one job in the YMCA. That's the kind of... you know, we're at war with Japan, and they looked like the enemy. If they hired me, the Y would lose money? Maybe. It's just a...

TI: And I'm sorry, what year is this?

FH: '45.

TI: '45, so right after the war.

FH: Yeah, just as the war is ending, '44, '45. I got my master's at Springfield College. That's the only way to get out of camp. I only stayed four months in Topaz. I got in January, I got there September, October, November, December. January 10th, I'm on the plane, no, train to go to Springfield. And then I got my Master's of Education there, 'cause the only way to get out of camp was to go to school at that time, Quakers.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: Yeah, before we... I want to talk about that. But let's talk about Topaz first.

FH: Topaz.

TI: Those four months you're in Topaz, and just, what memories of that, and then we'll go on.

FH: Oh, I tell you, that was exciting for me. Not only did I introduce each group coming in and introduce Charles Ernst as the project director so the people feel welcome, but two, there's a guy named Roy Takagi that was in our block. I knew him from San Francisco, he's an accountant. And he, I was taking a shower one night, he says, "Fred, you're in the Y, you know a lot of people. I want you to recruit about fifteen strong young adults to help finish the camp. The hospital's not finished yet, and the sewer system is not working well. So can you get about fifteen hard workers and we'll pay you current wages, $1.25 an hour instead of $1.25 a month." So we had eight dollars a month, twelve dollars a month, sixteen dollars a month, and nineteen dollars a month, professionals. That was the rate. Here we were making hundreds of dollars. And I recruited strong, healthy young adults, and I was the straw boss for these people to work every day. So as soon as I introduced all the people coming in and all that, then I stopped doing this recruiting and supervising. And some of these guys goof off, so I sit down with them and I said, "Look. I know it's tempting to goof off, but we're paid, and these guys aren't paid. And so you guys should hang in there. Either that, or I'll have to find somebody else." "Oh, no, no. We'll be majime." Majime means, "We'll be steady." Anyhow, I did that for about, through all of December, about a month. Then I got this chance to go out. So I quit this job and took off.

TI: And that's when you went to college.

FH: Yeah. But before I left in December, I said to the group of fifteen people, I got 'em together and I said, "Look. This is a lot of ask of you, but at least a minimum, I'd like to raise about five hundred dollars and give it to the children so they could have Christmas candy or something." 'Cause we've got jobs, and these other guys got nothing. Sure enough, they all said, "Sure, okay, Fred, we'll give you a hundred..." anyhow, we got about eight hundred dollars together, and I left that with camp to buy candy for the kids. Just give it to them.

TI: That's a good story.

FH: So those things happened. And then --

TI: Before you go on too much, I wanted to go back to when you helped greet the people as they came off the train. Do you remember what you said?

FH: Well, first, yes, generally I do remember. First, I'd introduce myself, who I am, and I said, "Some of you," I said, "how many of you have heard of me?" See some hands. I always try to get them interactive. So if they raise their hand a few times, they'll say, "Oh, Fred must be okay 'cause my neighbor knows him," or something. Then I tell 'em that, "I'm just like one of you, I came in such and such a date, and I have the pleasure of welcoming you here. I know it was a tough ride, I know you're tired, I know you want to get going. But the project director who's sitting here, Mr. Ernst, he and his family, and then that's Lorne Bell, the fellow that used to work in the YMCA, they just want to say hello to you," something like that. So I would introduce them.

TI: And then what would Mr. Ernst say when he had his --

FH: Oh, he would say, "Welcome," and, "I know this is not your choice, but we have to make the best we can, and we could do it better if we work together," that kind of approach. Very, very... I'm not so sure if he's a Quaker himself or not, but he had a very strong feeling of comradeship. He was, no one, I never heard any negative things about him, yeah.

TI: Good, okay.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

TI: So you, after four months in Topaz, you have this opportunity to go to Springfield College.

FH: Well, the only way to get out was through the student relocation program that the Quakers put together.

TI: And how did you get connected with the program?

FH: Well, sabotage. I mean, you know, we have a, like a street sheet, we have a news, Topaz Times. Henry Tani was the editor of that at one time. Henry Tani... Henry Tani's son became an astronaut. That Tani. He was a Stanford man, he had a sister named Lilly that married Mr. Abiko, only son of Kyutaro Abiko. And so Lilly and I became very good friends. We were co-officers of the Christian Conference in Bay Area, Lilly. She just passed away, too.

TI: Okay. So you went to Springfield College.

FH: Yes.

TI: Tell me about that.

FH: Springfield College is a YMCA training school in a sense. It's open to all others, it's liberal arts school, but the start is "Spirit, Mind and Body." And they don't call it a YMCA, but it is a YMCA training school, it's international, started in 1885 and located in Springfield College, it's in Springfield, Massachusetts, and they have a campus there. Because basketball was founded by Springfield College, did you know that?

TI: Oh, you mean by...

FH: Naismith.

TI: Naismith, yeah.

FH: Dr. Naismith was a worker for a Springfield College professor, and he said, "Football is strenuous and good, but we need something else for, similar for winter, indoors." And they got a peach basket and a ball, and that became basketball. And so they formed, they have a shrine, a big auditorium, they have a Hall of Fame place for basketball players, Naismith's.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. Yeah, I know the... yeah, the, Dr. Naismith...

FH: But anyhow, Springfield College, its main thing is Spirit, Mind and Body, and it's Christian principles. Start out as a Christian school and still remains so, although it's open to all religion, and it's, a lot of people from foreign countries come and get their YMCA training there, yes.

TI: So for you, this must have been pretty comfortable because of your YMCA background.

FH: Oh, yes.

TI: You already had a, you know, your bachelor's degree from Berkeley.

FH: Yes. And then I also, at the time I was going to Springfield, war's on. So very few students, one of my classes was only two students. And so I got to know the professor, Dr. Lindbergh, who lived to be a hundred years old and wrote a book when he was one hundred years old. He was my model. So I've got some more to go, catch up. He just passed away. He wrote a book on Living a Century about his life.

TI: So you have, what, five more years to go? [Laughs]

FH: I have five more years. But that's Paul Lindbergh. And there was a L.K. Hall that I got to know in Springfield. I just think he was one of the... he influenced me so much because of his intelligence and his hunger for knowledge, and his caringness. He was not a handsome man, but a huge, six-foot-two or three, big guy. We call him L.K. Lawrence K. Hall. They got award for him. They got an award called the Kingsley Hall Award, which is the highest prestigious award that any YMCA professional can ever get. The first award, first time they gave this award in 1998, just got this going. And who do you think got that award? Fred Hoshiyama. First awardee. I'm so proud of that, so much, so much. [Laughs]

TI: That's a good connection.

FH: That's Springfield.

TI: Any personal memories of Springfield that... like a story or memory?

FH: Yeah. We're not supposed to cook, you know, but we all had little electric... what do you call those little...

TI: Hotplates?

FH: Hotplates. And one day there was a postmaster that asked for students to work on the Christmas. And after Christmas rush was over, this guy was an Irishman. He says, "You don't know about the Irish famine out here, but we were treated like dirt, just the way you guys are being treated today. Don't tell the other students, but I'm going to release everybody but you and Henry, Japanese American from Hawaii, you could continue working if you want, nighttime, night shift, sorting mail." He let us come back. One night I'm coming home from a, like early morning, two o'clock or something, one o'clock. Dorm was on fire, fire engines there. And someone said it was a hotplate that probably started this. They're not sure, but they threw it all out the window. [Laughs] And my feeling is that my hotplate... I forgot to turn it off when I left. 'Cause we're not supposed to cook in the room, but everybody did. And so I still remember that. I'm not sure, but it could be that I started that fire. I don't want to tell Springfield College, they'll sue me. But that happened.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

FH: Something else also happened when I was working -- I mean, right away they gave me a job, and they gave me a part-time work there. And my job was to print the tests and stuff like that. And people would say, "Come on, Fred, tell us, what are some of the questions?" "No, I can't." They heard that's my job, the printings. That's one thing I did. Second was I was outside one time, and they put me through hazing. They call it hazing. And I'm a graduate student, but since I'm brand-new, they put me in a freshman, frosh, they call it the "frosh walk." And you take a toothbrush, you're supposed to scrub it. Hazing, you know, they make you do those humble stuff. I was doing that one day, and a man, six-foot-tall, strong, bushy eyebrows, stopped by and says, "What's your name?" "Fred Hoshiyama." "Oh, Japanese. You know, you're lucky, 'cause you could be like a samurai sword." I said, "What do you mean, samurai sword?" "Double-edge. And you could be a catalyst for Japan, friendship for Japan and America." I never forgot that. His name is John Mott, M-O-T-T. I learned that he is a giant in the YMCA movement, he raised fifty million dollars during World War I, he hired five thousand women, five thousand men, and he had workers at every canteen that he put together all over the United States and Europe during World War I. Fifty million dollars to raise in those days is like two billion today. And so I got to know him later, later, after this, but every time... one day they gave me a Kunsho. Do you know what a Kunsho is? It's the Emperor's award from the Japanese government. And I was awarded a Kunsho in 1997 from the Japanese government. When I received it, I said, "Thank you John Mott." Why? 'Cause I never forgot. He says, "You could be a catalyst." I took the first group to Japan in 1960, youth group, home to home, sister city, youth program, exchange program. As soon as I did that, 1960, Kobe and Seattle started one right away with Kobe, the YMCA. They have a long relationship with Kobe Y and Seattle Y, sister city, then Nagoya and Los Angeles, Tokyo and New York. They started these exchange programs, and they're still doing it, I think. But I had the privilege, thanks to John R. Mott. That was kind of the incentive for me, so I said thank you for when I received that, 'cause that started the program.

TI: Because you think that influenced you, that brief moment...

FH: Oh, no question about it.

TI: When he said that, you thought more of how you could be...

FH: Well, when I was in Springfield, I never forgot that. When opportunity came to do this program, and that helped to bring understanding home to home. Someday a Prime Minister of Japan may be in that group, and the President of the United States may be from here, get to know each other, live in each other's home. That's what brings peace to this world.

TI: So that was, that was a big thing. That was influential.

FH: Oh, that was something big. And then one other thing about John R. Mott. He's such a giant, but he got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for peace, bringing peace to the world. When he was student, nineteen years of age, he stood before the group, conference, and he says, "I challenge you folks. I want one hundred volunteers to go out into the world and to tell them about this idea, YMCA." And within a generation, eighty-nine new nations started a YMCA movement in their country. A movement is not just one Y, it's several Ys, but it's the whole, in each country. Who would think that a nineteen year old guy would have that kind of vision? That's John Mott. And he's such a fundraiser. So I asked him, I said, "What's your secret?" He said, "I have no secret." "Yeah, but you raise all this money. How do you raise a million dollars?" "Fred, it's just as easy to say a million as it is to say one hundred. It's just that you don't have the guts to say million. I choose the person I ask carefully. They got to have the million, then they know how much they're gonna give you. I don't ask for money directly. I try to persuade them with my dream or whatever it is that I want them to help. And then if they agree to my dream, or my vision of something, the vision will come." I said, "Sounds too easy." Well, they ask me, they took me to lunch, and the Japanese American National Museum in 1918, I mean, 1986 or '7, they said, "Fred, we need to have lunch with you." I said, "What's up? I'd be glad to have lunch, but no lunch is free." [Laughs] Well, they said they need to raise money for the Japanese American National Museum, and, "You're the only one we know that had any Y experience raising money." Yeah, but I never raised ten million dollars in my life. I could raise a few dollars. Then I remembered John Mott. You believe in something, you share it, your money will come. And not only did we raise ten million, we had an earthquake, so we had to raise sixteen million and we did it. Then we outgrew this place, we had to build a new pavilion, forty-five million dollars. I said, "Oh, that's impossible. There's no way I could do that." The last day, we had forty-four. Guy standing next to me named Frank Watase, he let us use his home to start campaign in Torrance. I got to know him. Just need a million dollars to reach our goal. We talked to him before, he said, "Oh, no, I can't do it. I can't." He does the Dunkin' Donut or some kind of company. Well, okay. Million dollars.

TI: So on the last day...

FH: Another thing, a story. I would never recommend you do this, but John O'Lay took a job as the president of the Weingart Foundation, and they gave out all kinds of money. So I said, "John, you've got to help me." I phoned him up 'cause I know him that well. You should never phone to raise money, but I violated that. I said, "John, you know the home savings company, foundation lady?" "Oh, sure. We meet every so often." "Why don't you tell her that you'll commit yourself to a million dollars if they will match it for the JANM?" So I've talked to John. They don't give us money before, and so he says, "Well, I'll try. I'll do that for you." He calls me back and he says, "She says okay." Two million, one phone call. That's the fastest I ever did. [Laughs]

TI: And all that came from these, these conversations you had with John Mott, who really, he influenced you about Japan and fundraising?

FH: That's the whole thing I'm getting back to. That John Mott says, "You believe in something, you share the dream, and you select the right people, money will come." So there's sixteen plus forty-five for just one agency.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

TI: Okay, so Fred, before we go on there, I actually want to bring you back to Springfield.

FH: Oh.

TI: And then I want to take a break after we finish Springfield. But when you were at Springfield, this was during the war.

FH: Yes, 1940.

TI: Yeah, did you have conversations with other, your classmates about what was going on?

FH: Oh, sure. Many people.

TI: And where you were, like in a concentration camp? Did that ever, have those discussions?

FH: Well, they would... I used to, they would come and get me to speak about it all over in the New England states, Vermont and New Hampshire and Boston, yes. But the students were very friendly, they were there, and they were very friendly. I was living in the dormitory that's called the Foreign Student Dormitory, fourth floor. I said, "I'm not a foreign student," but I came from a camp, so that made me a foreign country. [Laughs] But there was Chinese, Canadians, Puerto Ricans, Hawaiian, quite a few. So we had international group on that fourth floor, Springfield, yes.

TI: And do you recall some of the conversations, or were people surprised?

FH: No, they were shocked to hear about it. They couldn't believe it. They couldn't believe it that this democracy, considered the most Western, modern democracy in the world, could do something like that. If it happened in their country, they said, yeah, you expect it. But here, my gosh, can't believe it. But that's what happens, it happened. And that's why education is so important. That's why I just felt that one of the vehicles of education for this experience is JANM at the time. What you're doing is excellent. That's a great institution, Densho. Absolutely, that's an educational tool.

TI: No, thank you.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

TI: Okay, so Fred, we're going to start the third, the third section. And we had just finished up, you were telling me about Springfield, where you got your master's. So why don't you tell me, after Springfield, Massachusetts, where did you go next?

FH: Well, that's a good question because I'm looking for a job now. I've got my master's, and I'm ready to go back to find some jobs. So I went, advertised myself, I'm available, every time there's a job opening I would go and get an interview. After about twelve interviews, no jobs. It's just, no one was... scared to hire me during the war years. So I understood why, and so I thought, "Oh, my gosh. I might as well go back to school instead of looking for a job and wasting my time." And first I went to New York City, worked in New York at the YMCA, McBurney branch, which is the first YMCA, 1951, it started. No, no. 1953 it started. The first gymnasium in the United States was built at McBurney branch YMCA. Then I couldn't get a job, and there was a job opening possibility there. So I lived there, got twenty-five dollars a week for being a kind of a janitor, and they'll give you job as a janitor but not as a program person. And when one day I show up for work, and some young man shows up and he says, "Is this the program office?" and I said, "Yes, who are you?" Before I asked that question, I knew who he was. He got the job that I was hoping to get, but they didn't tell me they hired somebody. Someone was supposed to tell me, but I guess they're, didn't want to hurt my feelings or whatever, they forgot to tell me. So I said to myself, "These guys aren't gonna give me a job," so I quit. I resigned, I quit, and I said, "My gosh, what'd I do that for?" I got no place to live. 'Cause I was living there, thirteen dollars a week for my room, twelve dollars to eat, which is okay. I was doing, doing well. No job, no place to live. So I panicked and I sat down and I said, "My gosh, Fred, that was a stupid thing." But I already asked for resignation.

TI: And during this time, did it, did it...

FH: This was three months.

TI: Yeah. Did this discourage you about the YMCA?

FH: Well, no, no.

TI: Because here you had interviewed, tried to get a job...

FH: I felt that the timing was such that it was... but maybe there's a chance to get a job someplace else. But in the meantime, just being there would not help me. So maybe I could go back to school and prepare myself better. So I decided one hour away by train is a place called Yale. And so I decided I would call them up, and I did. And I asked for the dean at the graduate school, and it was Dean Luther. And so I said, "Dean Luther, I just quit my job, and this is what happened. I'm a refugee from the relocation centers, actually, our concentration camps. And I would like to enroll at your school but I just don't have money, I lost my job." He says, "Come on down, we'll talk about it." So I took the next train, talked to him, he says, "We'll give you a place to stay, we'll give you a scholarship for whatever class you want to take, and give you a part-time job. You could work at the refectory." Refectory is the eating place.

TI: So what made you think... so Yale University is a top Ivy League school, it's a bastion of...

FH: Well, it was the closest one, close to the school, yeah. I could have gone to Columbia or someplace, but I read, doing my master's for Springfield, there were a lot of folks that, at that school that I researched for my paper. One was Neber, Richard Neber is considered one of the top ethics professor in the nation, Neber. Of course, I got to know Reinhold also at New York. And then there was a Liston Pope, the sociologist, Ronald Rowland Baton, New Testament, these are all people that I became familiar, and they're right there, one hour's ride from where, at Yale Divinity School, graduate school. So they said, "Come on down," and I went down and I got that place, place to live. So I got my suitcase and went over there, and I started a new life. But my main, I'm still waiting for a job at a YMCA, okay. And then when I'm at Yale Divinity School, one year, I get a wire from Honolulu from a student that was at Springfield with me named Henry Koizumi, and he worked for the Y. He said, "There's a job here. Would you like it?" I said, "I would love it." I'm going to try to go there, so I wrote to them and accepted a job over, by mail, airmail. And then I tried to get passage from San Francisco, it took me a whole month, two, three months, I was stuck there. But they started paying me from the time I arrived in San Francisco, so I've got money coming in, hundred dollars a month.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

TI: And this is right at, in '45?

FH: This is '45, exactly.

TI: So the war is still going on?

FH: And the war was on until August, and finally, on September, I got a passage to Hawaii. I think it was September 10th. And then I finally got knocked off several times on both plane and ship. But finally, one ship, a freighter, I got on, and it took us nine days doing zigzagging and blackouts at night yet, 'cause they didn't know if there's submarines around. And then I arrived at the Aloha Towers, ship. And as we docked, who meets me with a lei? Lorne Bell that I worked with in Topaz. Same Lorne Bell now is my boss. And the reason I didn't have to do an interview was he knew me, he says, "Fred, we'll take him." And so I started my YMCA career in Honolulu, 1945, and I loved it. I loved the Aloha culture, I loved the people, and I just wanted to stay there until a guy named Roy Sorenson, who was eighteen years on the national staff, decided to see if what he'd been advising works or not at the local scene. And he came to San Francisco, took over the job, and now he wants Fred Hoshiyama to come back to San Francisco and open up the Japanese YMCA that we padlocked. Well, the upshot of all this is that I turned the job down twice, but Roy Sorenson was a very persuasive man, and he kept, the third time he says, "Fred, if you don't come back to open up the Japanese YMCA, where will the kids go when they're coming back from all over, disbursement?" I wasn't thinking about the kids. I was a single man, I'm having great time in Honolulu, and I didn't want to leave and go back into the ghetto. But what I thought, I was thinking about the wrong agenda. I was ashamed. I said, "I never even thought about the kids. If that's the case, I will immediately return as soon as I can give my resignation." He says, "Fred, this circumstance, you don't have to wait a month. You could leave as soon as you get passage." So I got a plane to take me back to San Francisco on January 10, 1947, and I returned to San Francisco. Now, the question is, how do I open up a YMCA that was dormant for, since we padlocked April 28, 1942. This was 1947.

TI: So almost five years it was...

FH: Oh, yes. They used it for USO or something, but not as a YMCA. And they used it for colored troops, but that's okay. So finally we talked, I tried to reach as many people that returned from all over to San Francisco, maybe half the former group returned. So these are former board people and volunteers, leaders. I talked to them, and we decided that maybe, at this time, 1947, because of what happened to all of us, we should open this up not as a segregated Japanese YMCA, but as a community-based family YMCA, which they agreed, "Yes, I don't think we could support it just by ourselves. We need to enlarge it, bigger audience." And so that's how the decision was made, and I feel kind of good that we were able to do that, and made it the Buchanan Street -- 'cause the Y is located on Buchanan Street -- the Buchanan Street YMCA. We invited the YWCA, they had a, also, YWCA building just two blocks away. So they decided to come in, and so we did a YM and YWCA center. And so that started January 1947, and I was there until 1957, ten years. And then I was asked --

TI: But, you know, going back to that decision, so that was actually a pretty big decision for the community to go from --

FH: It was a big decision for the Japanese community people. And I'd like to share some of my heartbreaks. There were some young Japanese American colleagues younger than me, some of them, some of them my age. The word they used like this: "Fred, you gave away the YMCA to the kuro-chan." Well, the upshot of all this is that the Japanese have difficulty working together and being together with Afro Americans. Because in Japan, there may be some feelings about Afro Americans, I don't know that. But this certainly is reflected among the Niseis. They consider themselves -- us Niseis -- considered ourselves in a little different category. And I try to look at it scientifically. The culture of Afro Americans is more closer to the mainstream culture, 'cause that's the only culture they really... three hundred years of slavery, it's American culture. Well, the Nisei knows the Japanese culture, which is different, estranged with this other culture. So that may affect their feelings. But no question about it, there is an innate prejudice among the Niseis towards others. They like to be more Nisei-Nisei. And so I don't want to put what I call a character judgment on this, but I just felt that the community decided to boycott the Japanese YCMA that became Buchanan Street Y. So ninety percent of the program were all Afro Americans and Filipinos, and not too many Nisei, which I kind of felt very bad about, but that's life.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

TI: And by making that decision and working at the YMCA, how did the community treat you?

FH: You mean to start with?

TI: Well, so you made this, this change at the Y. And were you sort of, did the community give you a hard time because of this, because you worked at the Y?

FH: Not exactly. But you see, the different churches used to go camping with a Japanese group. But when it became mixed, it stopped. So it wasn't a personal thing, but it was a cultural thing. And we had basketball teams, and we had good teams, 'cause Bill Russell, he used to come and play. And we had some excellent... K.C. Jones was an All-American Hall of Famer, Celtics with Bill Russell. He was, he learned his skills there, too. So we had some wonderful teams like that, but Japanese? No. They had their own thing. So we had a kind of a... within the big house, the Nisei and the blacks and the Filipino. We had a mango group, Filipino group. But that's okay. You don't have to force integration, it just had to happen naturally, and you have to learn each other and get to know each other, and that way it grows.

TI: And what was, sort of, the feelings of, say, the African Americans towards the Niseis? Did they, were they open to them, or was there still this similar kind of feeling?

FH: I think the Afro Americans also liked to be by themselves, too, 'cause they know what prejudice is. But I think they, very acceptance of Japanese, more so than the Japanese accepted black Americans, but there's still work to be done. And so one of the things that I feel good about when we started this as a community-wide, once a month, we had an international night to get acquainted with the community. So we would bring in many different cultural groups and have entertainment, and have different food at these events and invite people to come. And the newspapers picked that up and gave us lots of space and pictures and publicity. And so that helped to create a better feeling. And sure, the leadership people, we tried to mix the board, we had a good mixture on the board, and we worked at it very hard. But it was hard to win the Nisei. So they started their own groups here and there, all over. Churches started summer programs, childcare, summer programs. Before, they came to the Y. Now -- and the Y knows how to do this -- but racially they want their own. And the parents feel more comfortable if they have their own. And so it just meant more activities in the community. But it did hurt the Y program in that respect.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

TI: Well, in that same one -- I'm jumping around a little bit -- but a few years ago, there was a controversy about the sale of the YMCA, the Buchanan YMCA, the YMCA was trying to sell it, I believe, or the YWCA was trying to --

FH: No, it's the YWCA building, and the YWCA... see, once a building is built, who owns it? It's really the community owns it. And the YMCA or YWCA are the guardians, but legally, legally it's, the YWCA owns it. And so they wanted to sell the building, 'cause the YWCA went down, down, down in San Francisco. They had to get rid of the headquarters, and they used the, this Japanese YWCA as their headquarters for a while. Then they decided to sell it. Bad leadership, but legally they had the right to do it. So they went to court and the community lost, so they had to buy it. So they had to pay to buy it, just like anybody else would buy it, but they had a right to buy it. You would think that the community raised the money, so they should go back to the community, but that's not the way it happened. So that's what happened then. The building is being paid for by this group called the Small Children's Group or something, and they have a childcare center there. Yes. There's a lady that's a mother of the lawyer, and she kind of spearheaded to get that building into the, stay in the community.

TI: So I may have been confused. So this, it was a YWCA, was that a different, a different building than where you worked at?

FH: No. We had a YM or WCA. It's the same YWCA that was partners with us. However, ten years later, I left to go to another community. Roy Sorenson said, "Fred, I want you to go over there, they're having trouble, and want you to kind of shore it up," so I said, "Okay." "But you have to find a replacement because it can't be a black person. 'Cause if it's just a black person, that person will, I mean, there'll be no Japanese coming. You're the only reason you got a few Japanese coming." So I got Yori Wada, who was an icon in history of San Francisco, from Hanford, Yori, and he took over after he turned me down twice. And so I said, "Yori, think about your children. And if it weren't for the Y, you have a much better chance of surviving." So he came over, and he'd done some wonderful things there. He was also into the YMCA Hall of Fame, national Hall of Fame, and he's done some, left a scholarship that still works to get children to go to school and those kind of things. He knew the governor very personally, he knew the mayor, he was a strong political influence with the Young Democrats, Yori Wada.

TI: So he kept it going.

FH: Yeah. And then, and then the YWCA decided that they're gonna raze every building except that YMCA in that whole section, Section A, Project A. And the only building standing was the YMCA building, the Japanese YMCA building. All the rest were completely brand-new. The ILWU, Harry Bridges group, built all that housing there. And there's only a handful of Japanese that bought and lived there. All the rest are mixed, mostly, I think, Afro Americans. Not one people that used to live in that area were able to come back without subsidy. Because once you build new buildings, it's gonna cost more money. So a lot of people that lived there were people from outside, not that were displaced by the new project.

TI: So it was very disruptive to that existing...

FH: Exactly. And so I supported the first project at the gymnasium at the Y. We had two or three hundred people show up, and I got up there and said we should support this project because it lowers crime, it improves health and get rid of rats and so forth, and make a new community here. When not one family were able to come back, I opposed the redevelopment for the next project. And one time -- this is strange -- I said, "I've heard of people putting their body in front of the bulldozers when they can't move. Well, the least I could do is I could at least get there and do that." [Laughs] So I went over there and I said, "You've got to run me over if you want to continue this project." Yori Wada showed up and he says, "Fred, you're stupid. You can't stop progress." Well, I feel guilty that I told the people to support the project, and you've got to have subsidy or else these people can't make it.

TI: And so that second development, did they, did they change it? Did they do things differently?

FH: Well, yeah. They tried to at least find some way that people could come back. And one of the reasons they didn't think about that when they started, but the second time they learned that, hey, you got to take care of the people, too. So they have to find funding to do what you call subsidy of rents and so forth, yeah. Now, at this point, I got fired from the YMCA, 1967. 1967, I got fired.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

TI: Let me just explain. So from 1957 to 1967, where were you?

FH: I was -- that's a good story. I was asked to go to the Richmond district, which is the middle class, Park Presidio YMCA, 360 Eighteenth Avenue, way out in the suburbs. From the ghettos to the avenues. So I went there, and a couple years later, my boss says, "Come on in, I got to talk to you. Fred, can you take over, go to state YMCA which is Stonestown, right near the school, the San Francisco State College?" And so I said, "Well, thank you for your confidence and appreciate, but who's going to take my place here?" "Oh, no, you didn't hear me. You're going to take over this YMCA and get them up to date. You keep this Y." I said, "I can't do it. I'm working my head off right here, and I can't do this." "Oh, yes, you can, Fred. You can do it, you're good." "No, no, can't do it." Well, we've got to try. "Well, okay," so I said, "I'll try." Two years later, it was '57, 60, maybe '62, calls me in and he says, "Fred, there's another Y in trouble. It's called the Mission Y, and it's out in the Mission district. Their territory is half of San Francisco, all the rest. I want you to take that over." I said, "Roy, I have a hard enough time doing what I'm doing now." "Oh, yes, you could do it." "No, I can't do it." "Yes, you could do it." "I'll tell you what," he says. "You just got to not work harder, but think smarter." I said, "My gosh, how can I do three YMCAs?" Well, anyhow, the upshot of all this is I went back and I went back to my office and I sat down and I said, "My god, three YMCAs and all the different committees, three different boards, when am I gonna do YMCA work, just service these committees?" And then something came to mind. I say God spoke to me. You put these three into one. You merge them, have one board, one staff. That's manageable. So I did that, called it Ultra City Branch, three into one. That happens all the time now. You heard of mergers? Well, I started that way, way back, out of necessity. And then, this was about '65, about '67, I mentioned the fact I got fired. So I said, "My gosh -- " of course, it always takes two to tango.

TI: And before we get there, I just want to make... during the '60s, that was a turbulent time.

FH: Very turbulent.

TI: There was lots of happenings --

FH: Young adults and young kids, and '63, you know, the march, Martin Luther King march to D.C., I was there for that.

TI: You had the Haight-Ashbury, you had the "love children"...

FH: Haight-Ashbury, love affairs there, the "love children," lots of changes. So I mean, I'm working through all this stuff. But it was exciting times. And I also started a thing at the time at our church basement called the Western Addition... it's called WACO, Western Addition Community Organization, WACO. I still remember that. It was a grassroots, and I could just get out in the street, and in a half hour get three hundred people to go to City Hall through this organization. And I did that for a while. And we did it in our church basement. This mostly was Afro American and Japanese, we combined to fight these housing problems, fight crime. And the main thing we tried to do was we wanted... actually, redevelopment to have subsidy in those things, yes.

TI: So it was just a very exciting time, then.

FH: Well, I don't know. [Laughs] It's interesting that I became an activist like that for a while. And so anyhow, that's... it's history, but it was exciting, yes, for me. And I could just see that if you let the people know, you're gonna get support.

TI: So let's go to 1967. You said you were fired.

FH: Yeah, they fired me.

TI: This was after you had taken over three YMCAs.

FH: That's right.

TI: You've merged them, you've...

FH: I merged them, made it into one Y. And it was doing well.

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<Begin Segment 34>

TI: So what happened in 1967?

FH: Well, there's a lot of advantage in merging YMCAs, 'cause you could do a lot of stuff at former Ys that you can't do just one little Y. And together you could do a lot of good stuff. Now, after I got fired...

TI: Oh, but why were you fired?

FH: Well, I think I was maybe a threat. I used to tell Paul, my CEO, I said, "Come on, Paul, smile a bit. Life is not that grim. Hey, we're all supporting you, let's go. Let's do something." He was paralyzed. Why? He took over Roy Sorenson's job, who was on the, eighteen years on the national staff. And Roy was such a giant, he wrote a book, and he was like John R. Mott, another giant. And Paul would just, froze. He just froze. He was such a great personality before. All of a sudden, he don't smile, and he used to be a personality. Any time he walks in the room, he lits it up. Now, it's glum. So we said, "Come on, Paul, relax." Well, he called me in one day and he says, "Fred, I have to get a new team and I don't see you part of that, so I have to let you go." So I said, "I'm sorry you feel that way, 'cause you know that my program has one of the best in the nation," and he knew that. He also fired Robby and Martha at San Mateo, that's another, our branch, had the largest high school program in the nation. We were second. That's how we were so good at working with young kids, Hi-Y and Tri-Hi-Y clubs at the time. Well, anyhow, he fired me. But the board told my wife, the chairman of the board called my wife -- I'm out looking for a job. He says, "Tell Fred to hang on, don't do anything, because there's something fishy about all this." He didn't do a paper trail, he didn't say, "Dissatisfied with your work, you got to change," or something, he just, "Goodbye." He panicked, I guess, and that's why I got fired. I don't know. You ask me why, I was doing good work, I know results and volume of kids, they were doing some great programming, we had great conferences, we had good board, good support, raised good money. He had no reason to fire me except that he has a right to his own team. But I felt that he probably felt threatened, and decided to get rid of Robby and Fred and Martha, the two strongest or three strongest Y people. Then he'd feel comfortable. I don't know.

TI: So then what happened next after...

FH: And so I got a job offer when this, after all this got squared away, and he was asked by the board to take me back. So I said, "Well, Paul, at least we could be friends." Then he called me up one time and he says, "Fred, you said we could be friends. I need your friendship now. I was told by the board to take you back." I said, "Well, thank you. I enjoy working here, and I enjoy working with you, and let's build it together." Robby, he never, he said... he never showed up to a single staff meeting that Paul called after this happened. I'm a team player, but Robby says, "I'll just do my thing," and he did until retirement. But Paul had to leave, and he took early retirement, and he went back to Sacramento. But he was a nice guy, but he just... that's the first time I got fired. Anyhow, that's beside the point. And so, when I got a job offer from the national structure, here no one knew who Fred Hoshiyama was until I got fired. All of a sudden, like a thumbnail, "You hear Fred got fired?" "What'd he do?" So my name came up, and I'm getting job offers. National staff says, "We've been thinking about you, but this happened, so we couldn't do it 'til after everything got cleared up." So I said, "Yeah, Paul doesn't want me, I might as well go." So I took the job, it's headquartered here in Los Angeles, it's a regional job. So I started from the local to the region. And then, couple years later, I got onto the national structure. So twelve years, '68 to '80, I worked for the national structure. That's when I got into these other stuff.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

TI: And one of the things we talked about was the mini-bikes?

FH: Yeah.

TI: So why don't you talk about that?

FH: And so 1969, '68 I got the job, left San Francisco, came here, '68. And then in '69, some young guys comes to me and says, "You're on the national staff, Fred, we need help." "How can I help you?" "We need mini-bikes. We want mini-bikes." I said, "What? Mini-bikes, that's not YMCA tool. Basketball, yes, camping, yes. Mini-bikes is a rich man's, boy's, tool, toy." "Oh, no. There are kids out there that if you got mini-bikes, they'll come to the Y. Otherwise, they won't join the Y. The Y has nothing for them." I said, 'That's right, we're having trouble." Revolution, youth revolution. So I said, "My gosh, well, I don't know where you get mini-bikes, but I know that Honda makes 'em." "Well, Fred, would you go see them and see what you can do?" I said, "I don't know anybody at Honda," but I know they make it because where I was sitting in this office, Olympic Street there, big street signs, outdoor sign, "From the Mini to the Mighty." Little mini-bike and a big cruiser. And so a fellow named Alan Kumamoto, a friend of mine, he was a junior JACL executive, and I said, "Alan, you're on the board of the YMCA. Do you happen to know anybody at Honda?" Said, "Yeah, I know Matt who works for American Honda." "Can you set up a meeting?" So he called him up and we had lunch. We requested twelve mini-bikes. And Matt says, "If it's one or two, I could give it to you tomorrow, but twelve, I gotta go upstairs," meaning he can't make that decision. Well, a week later he calls back and says, "Okay, where do you want these twelve?" So we got over there, one of the Ys started this program. Keith Davis was a young, young graduate from George Williams YMCA school, and he's a brand-new program person. and he goes out in the street and talks to kids, and that's what... every time a motorcycle goes by there, their eyes lit up. "Oh, did you see that Harley? Did you see that Honda? See that Kawasaki?" He says, "These kids are interested in motorcycles. And sure enough, we got these mini-bikes, twelve of those. Got these kids together, and they'll come every day, just faithful, they'll change their behavior, they just, it's a great catalyst, great toy, great instrument, to reach kids. And for getting those mini-bikes, they'll do anything. They'll say, "Oh, we'll change, we'll get all A's." But we knew that's not going to happen. Get a couple C's, get a couple F's, and then cutting, cut that down. Little by little, it worked. It worked so well that I've never seen a program... I've been, all my life I'm working with kids, okay, since 1945, '41, actually. And yet, I've never seen a program that worked as well as this, different program. National youth program using mini-bikes.

So eventually, the upshot of all this is, during my watch -- I retired in 1980 -- over 450 boys and girls of twelve to fifteen, twelve to fourteen, fifteen, that age group, were kept out of the juvenile justice system. In the United States, the juvenile justice system is a farce. It doesn't rehabilitate. It makes them smarter crooks as they go in and out, in and out like a revolving door. And it's a big industry, it cost thirty to fifty thousand dollars per year to incarcerate one kid and educate him and keep his health. And they're in some kind of a school, reform school. It's big industry without educating the kids. And that's the farce that we have in this country. So NIMBA... help to keep these kids out of the system. 'Cause once they get in, they can't get out of the system. They either end up a murderer, or they get killed. Either a murderer or murdered.

TI: And so you really needed something like the mini-bikes, something really, that would really attract these people to change.

FH: That's right. Unless you could attract the kids and have the confidence, you can't communicate with 'em. And this bike does it because they're interested in it. And so I said, "Why does this help?" Well, mountain bike is similar, but kids get on these bikes and they're excited. It's also risk-taking. They like that risk. And so if kid enjoys something, it's adventurous, and they feel good about it, they learn faster. And so if we could find music or art or whatever that the kid's excited about, then they'll learn and they will become disciplined, and you could talk to them. That's what I learned about the NIMBA program. But during my watch, as I say, Honda gave us sixteen thousand bikes. Sixteen thousand bikes, and it never cost us, not one time. Free gift, and they ship it wherever we want it through their agents around the country. And they have two thousand agents around United States, agencies, you know, Honda dealers. And that's how this program grew. So after, while twelve became twenty-five, and then twenty-five became sixteen thousand mini-bikes. So I asked Mr. Honda, when I had the privilege of meeting him, I said, "Mr. Honda, you could give us a thousand bike and say, 'Hey, we've done our share.' But sixteen thousand? Tell me, why do this? We appreciate it, I'm not saying we don't like it, we love it. But I'm just amazed at why you're willing to do that." First he said, "I don't want to mix sales with philanthropy. A gift is a gift. And I enjoy doing this because when we started a company in the United States, it took us a while, but the American people accepted us, supported us, and made us the largest motorcycle company in the world, and one of the larger automobile companies in the world. So if the American youth needs help, let us be part of that." What a man. What a man.

TI: What a great story, and what a great accomplishment.

FH: So through these little connections I had, through the kid named Jimmy that says, "Get us mini-bikes and we'll come to the Y," one person can make a difference, just by just that little, "Get us mini-bikes and we'll come to the Y." Anybody can do that, but that made a difference. Four hundred fifty kids, and it's still going on. This program is still alive today.

TI: That's a good story. So Fred, we're coming to the end of our interview now.

FH: Oh, okay.

TI: Is there anything else that, just that you would like to share to help end this interview?

FH: Well, I did quite a bit. [Laughs]

TI: This, you've covered so many materials, and I'm just wondering...

FH: Well, I just want to say this: that we live today in a society that's kind of, I think, we need each person to take a stand in what they really believe is important. When we have a Congress that's almost deadlocked, and we have a nation that's scared of terrorism, and we have wars continue on, that industry, the citizen's got to speak up. Because it's the citizens, the common folks, that's going to make a difference. I think Margaret Mead said, "A small, committed group of citizens can change the world. In fact, that's the only way you could make changes in the world." And I believe that, too. And so one person, a small group, can make that difference, and so I hope that we could plant seeds so that this will happen. 'Cause we need a world that is peace-loving, and that we are one world.

TI: Excellent. Thank you so much.

FH: Oh, my pleasure, thank you.

TI: That was a wonderful way to end that. Thank you so much. It's an honor and privilege to have done this with you.

FH: Listen, I'm the one that's honored, and I'm the one that's privilege. I thank God that I have these opportunities. [Laughs]

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.