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Title: Susumu Oshima Interview
Narrator: Susumu Oshima
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Kona, Hawaii
Date: June 9, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-osusumu-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: In something that you wrote, you talked about how when your dad was being held, first at the KMC and then later on at Fort Sill, that in school that you worked really hard.

SO: Yeah, I tried to study hard as much as I can. And I wasn't a bright student, and still yet, like the biology class with Mrs. Skinner, our teacher, she was really a strict teacher. And you have to speak up every time when she asks a question. And I was the only one answering, so I was the only one who was A in the whole class. And even those who didn't say much just flunked out, whole class.


TI: And so why, why was it that you were working so hard in school during this time?

SO: I just wanted to study hard for my father, so I tried my best. And my sister above me used to make fun of me and said, "You know, you're not coming home with good grades," because I was a bashful guy in school. I couldn't... she used to pick on me, so I thought, "Hey, I'll show her that I can do better than her, and then I can show my father that it's worth having me around for him." So I tried my best, but when I heard he passed away, oh, everything just came light, and I lost everything.

TI: Yeah, it must have been very, very difficult. And then what happened, so what happened to your life after your father was shot? What happened to you? So like in school, how would school work, and work and everything?

SO: Just had to keep on going and help our mom survive. And there was obligations that we had to catch up, so just have to help each other. So we all worked together.

TI: Did you see any changes in your mother after your father was gone?

SO: Well, she couldn't do everything, we just had to help her and then try to take care of us, too.

TI: How about the community? When they found out that your father was gone, was there any reaction amongst the community?

SO: Well, those days, they cannot pull on one side. So some would say, "Too bad for helping the community," that he got blamed for. All kind of reactions. And some guys made fun that he got shot, but didn't bother me.

TI: Why, why would they make fun of that? I don't understand.

SO: 'Cause they got jealous of our business, too. Our business was surviving and kept on growing.

TI: And how about the families that he helped? Because part of the reason he was there was he helped some families.

SO: Yeah. But everybody was afraid to talk. And it was really hard because like there's north and south corner, not too far from our store, there's a boundary. And then like the Japanese alien, they weren't allowed to cross the boundary. You had to stay only one side. And then they organized that Hawaii guard. Hawaii guard is all the different nationalities can hold a gun and then help the army guard whatever post they were assigned to. But Japanese, they cannot join the group. That's why they organized the 442 regiment. Said, you know, "You guys don't allow Japanese to hold gun. How's about let us volunteer, form a volunteer group, the 442, and then they would volunteer to fight for the country?" So that's how they started the 442. So the 442 was only for Japanese. And they wanted to join the other group, but they said, "Oh, you can't join the regular army, because you guys had the opportunity to join the army from before." So that was the answer to that.

TI: But you mentioned how your, the store was, like, right on the boundary of a line?

SO: Not too far from the store, a mile away.

TI: And that was the line where Japanese...

SO: Aliens.

TI: Could not go across.

SO: That's right. And then all the shortwave radios that we had, you have to turn 'em in. Then later on, they disconnected the shortwave and then they returned the radio.

TI: Now, at the store, did you sell things like knives or things like that that were called contraband or anything like that?

SO: Hardly. But we were selling radios, too. We were agent for RCA radio and then, those days, lot of radios had shortwave already installed. So those, had one guy, competitor, that we have to turn it in to him, so he would hold it, and he can sell it to anyone except the Japanese aliens.

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