Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Archie Miyatake Interview
Narrator: Archie Miyatake
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: August 31 & September 1, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-marchie-02-

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

<Begin Segment 1>

MN: Okay, today is August 31, 2010. We are at the Centenary United Methodist Church and in the room we have Archie Atsufumi Miyatake and Takeko Mayeda Miyatake. Dana Hoshide is on video, and I will be interviewing and my name is Martha Nakagawa. Now Archie, since your grandfather first came to United States, can you tell us what his name was?

AM: His name was Jundo, and the way he came over here was, it was 1904 or '05 that he came over here, but he went to San Francisco. And he was, I don't know what kind of work he was doing, but anyway, after the 1916 earthquake he decided to move to Los Angeles, so that's when he came to Los Angeles and he opened up a confectionary store in Little Tokyo. He called it Shofudo and the address was 333 East First Street. I remember that 'cause it was such an easy number to remember, so... this, the reason he came over to United States was to make some money and then go back to Japan. Well, after few years running the confectionary store, one year he stocked up on the mochigome for, for the season and what happened was he bought quite a bit of it and then the price went up so high and he made a lot of money, so he decided to go back to Japan, which was his plan anyway, and so he left the business to his oldest son, who took over the business. And so my father went, my grandfather went back to Japan in nineteen, about 1927 or '8, and then he settled in Shikoku Island where he came from, the prefecture of Kagawa ken. And the name of the town was Zensuji. And then around 1929 or '30 my grandfather became very ill, so when he was living in Japan, I mean, United States, his first wife passed away.

MN: Before we get there, let me first ask about your father, because he did not go into the confectionary business like your older, the uncle did.

AM: Yeah.

MN: Let's first, let me ask what your father's name is.

AM: Okay. Since my grandfather had my, his, my uncle take over the business so he could retire to go back to Japan, my father always had a dream of opening a photo studio because he liked photography so much.

MN: But for the record, tell me what your father's name is.

AM: My father's name is Toyo Miyatake.

MN: What is your mother's name?

AM: Hiro Miyatake.

MN: Tell me the story of why your mother's maiden name was also Miyatake.

AM: Okay. My grandfather lost his first wife and she passed away in Los Angeles, so after they had the funeral, I don't know how many years afterward, but anyway, he wanted to get married again, so he talked with a baishakunin and had a, and this baishakunin found another lady who was widowed with some children, and so she was interested in coming to United States, so my grandfather decided to marry her. Well, when he got married and then she, this second wife came with this, with this one daughter, her name was Hiro Miyatake, because she was her, her mother was married to a Miyatake and was a widow, so when she came to meet my grandfather, he brought Hiro Miyatake with her, with him. So my father was looking for somebody to get married to and then I guess he wanted to get married to her, so they got, they were able to get married.

MN: So your father married your grandfather's second wife's daughter?

AM: Yeah. Right. [Laughs]

MN: Now, when were you born?

AM: I was born in 1924.

MN: And where were you born?

AM: Los Angeles.

MN: In Little Tokyo?

AM: Yes. In fact, there was a little, a house behind where my grandfather started his confectionary store and while they were still living there, my mother became pregnant, so I was born right in Little Tokyo in that little house with a midwife. And this midwife, her name was Hiraga and I've known her for many years and she, of course, she passed away already, but she always used to call me "Achi, Achi" and, well, I had a real close tie with this lady. In fact, she had a son who was a sumo wrestler and I've known him for a long time, and he used to do sumo when the Japanese Town had a sumo wrestling place. And of course, this sumo -- dojo, they call it -- was gone after a while because Parker Center took over the section of where all these things were in Little Tokyo, so sumo dojo is gone now, but used to have it there.

MN: That's, yeah, that was, the sumo dojo disappeared after the war, isn't that right?

AM: Yes.

MN: Now, going back to your story, how many children did your parents have?

AM: Myself, and then I had a younger brother named Bob who also went into photography, and he graduated from Arts Center College. He graduated there and then he went to New York to work for a fashion photographer for a few years. Then he came back and he was with, working for my father for a long time. And then he got a job; the Arts Center College where he went to study photography offered him a job to teach there, so he was teaching there for quite a few years until he retired. Yeah.

MN: And then who comes after Bob?

AM: My youngest brother, his name was Richard. Of course, he passed away when he was only sixty-four, but, I kind of miss him, but anyway, that's what happened. He was also working for my father, too, so the three brothers, three sons that he had, all worked for my father. And my father, my brother, my next brother, of course, he went to Arts Center College where he was working for the studio, and after he graduated, he went to New York to work for a fashion photographer and then he came back and was teaching at Arts Center College until he retired.

MN: Then who came after Richard?

AM: No, he was the youngest.

MN: But you had a sister, right?

AM: Oh yeah, my, I had a younger sister that was below my brother Richard.

MN: What, what is her name?

AM: Minnie Miyatake. And she's married to Reverend Takashi's son. His name is Edward Takashi who's an architect and he has his own firm right now doing his architecture work.

MN: There's a big age gap between you and your brother Bob.

AM: Yes.

MN: When was Bob born?

AM: He was born in 1930.

MN: So there's a six year --

AM: Six year difference, yes. After Bob, the next brother after Bob, there's a big gap, too, because... I think we went to Japan in the meantime and we spent three years in Japan, and the reason that we were in Japan was because when my grandfather went back to Japan and retired he bought some homes and he was doing quite well, but he became ill, so he asked one of the sons to come back to help. So the oldest son, who would've gone back, but he was given the responsibility to run the business, so my father decided he better go back, so we, my father decided to take the whole family back to Japan.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

MN: But before we go there, hold on. Hold on, okay, Archie? Before we go there, I wanted to ask you, what is your birth name?

AM: My name is Atsufumi -- that's a Japanese name.

MN: How did you get the name Archie?

AM: Well, I was using Atsufumi when I was going to grammar school, but at, but at home all my friends just had a hard time calling me Atsufumi each time, so some, some of the Issei used to call me Atsushi for short, because that's just using the first character of my name, which means Atsushi. But Atsushi became Archie.

MN: Didn't your mother go play mahjong, also, and you kept pointing to the door?

AM: Yeah. Yeah, I told... my mother used to play a lot of mahjong because it was, it was pretty popular by the time, when I was small, and that was about 1934 or '5, around there. Well, it would get so late each, every night and I would point to the door and says, tell my mother, "Acchi, acchi." And then so from then, from then I guess some people started calling me "Acchi Acchi" and that's, that's where I got the name Archie. And of course, after the war I legalized it so I could use the name Archie as my English name.

MN: And acchi acchi means "over there, over there."

AM: Yeah. So I just pointed to the door telling my mother, "Acchi, acchi." Let's go home, you know. To the door, pointing to the door, "Acchi, acchi." [Laughs]

MN: And you didn't know this until after the war, that that's how people, why people calling Achicha. And how did you learn about the story behind Acchi?

AM: Well, my mother told me one time that I used to get so tired of waiting for her to play mahjong because that game goes on and on for a long time and I was getting so sleepy and tired. I wanted to go home and sleep, so I told my mother, "Mama, acchi, acchi," pointing to the door. So that's how people started calling me Acchi.

MN: And then is it after the war you met, is it Miyoshi Hoji's wife?

AM: Miyoshi Hoji.

MN: His wife. Is she the one that gave you this nickname, Acchi?

AM: Yeah, more or less yeah. Could be, yeah.

MN: And you said after the war you legally changed your name to Archie Atsufumi Miyatake.

AM: Yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

MN: And now your grandfather, you said, went back to Japan. You also mentioned your father, he didn't go into the confectionary business, but as a young man he picked grapes. Do you remember that?

AM: Yeah, he used to go, do that type of work just to get some, little income, to have a little money so he could pursue his interest in photography. So a lot of the young Issei used to do that, working just part time, doing, working for farmers and things, so he used to go to Fresno sometimes and thing like that.

MN: Did you ever have to do that?

AM: No.

MN: Now, when your father told your grandparents that he wants to go into artistic field, how did your grandparents take that?

AM: Well, they kind of knew my father's interest was in field of art and so, naturally, when my grandfather decided to go back to Japan, he had his oldest son take over the business, although, even though my father was married to his stepdaughter. So my father was always kind of more artistic type, not the business type of person, so my grandfather naturally asked my father's older son to take over the business. And so when my grandfather went back to Japan, when he became ill, he asked my father if he could come back and help because he was sick, and so he knew that his present wife would like to see his, her daughter back in Japan, too, so that's how he decided to go back to Japan and...

MN: Let's not go to Japan yet. [Laughs]

AM: Okay.

MN: Let's stay here in L.A. still. Before he went to Japan, your father went back to Japan, were, I wanted to still ask a little bit about his earlier years. How did your father decide to pick photography as his field?

AM: Well, my father was very interested in art and when he, those days, the young Isseis were really into camera, taking pictures, and so there was a great interest in photography and many of the Isseis started taking artistic photographs and, with a camera. And so my father, naturally, got interested from that, that type of work, and so he started taking a lot of pictures. And then, let's see, he... oh, there was an already existing studio in Little Tokyo. It was located in Toyo Hotel, which was where the Parker Center used to be. So he took his, was interested in purchasing this studio, so he did. And then, since his name was Toyo Miyatake, he decided to rename the studio Toyo Miyatake Studio.

MN: And so this Toyo Studio, or Toyo Hotel had no relations to your father?

AM: No.

MN: It was just named Toyo Hotel.

AM: Yeah.

MN: Now, before that, did your father take any classes, or how did he learn photography?

AM: Okay. He was interested in pictorial type of photograph and there was a man named Edward Weston. He was a very well-known photographer, even to this day, although he passed away long time ago. When he lived in Glendale he used to take lessons from him in photography, because my father liked his work so much. And then one day Edward Weston told my father, "You know, I have a exhibit and the reason I have a exhibit is so people would buy my photographs." But it was 1924 or '5 and then it was during the, kind of a recession time, so he was having a hard time selling his pictures because people were, just wouldn't buy pictures that much anymore those days. So he told that to my father and my father heard it -- this was after Edward Weston taught him photography -- so my father went back to the Little Tokyo community and told these young Issei photographers, "You know, Edward Weston wants to put on an exhibit if you would be willing to help him put on a exhibit," and they were more than happy to do it because he, he was so well known. So they had the exhibit, and quite a few photographs were bought by the Japanese people and Edward Weston was very thankful for it. And I was reading a day book that Edward Weston published and I came across this article that he wrote in his book that "these Japanese people were very appreciative of my photograph and I was very thankful for, for the people to buy all these photographs." And so it so happened that my father knew about Edward Weston because my father learned photography from him. And another person that taught him photography was a man named Mr. Harry Shigeta. When he used to live in Los Angeles he was teaching photography, so my father first got interested in photography, so he went to Harry Shigeta's class and learned photography from him. And after going to, to his class, Mr. Shigeta decided to quit this teaching and go to Chicago, and so after that my father decided to go to Mr. Edward Weston to learn photography. So my father had some nice teachers that taught photography to him.

MN: And then your father worked in Hollywood before he opened your, his own studio, is that correct?

AM: Well, no, he, when he started a studio in Little Tokyo, the kind of picture that he'd took really attracted the people in the Hollywood movie industry. They liked it so much that his, he got a reputation for taking some nice portrait for these actors and actresses, so he started getting a lot of their business.

MN: And he also became friends with James Wong Howe?

AM: Yes.

MN: The pioneer cinematographer.

AM: Yes. He was doing photography in Hollywood and then my father also assisted him, too.

MN: Oh, your father assisted him?

AM: Yeah. And then, because, because the kind of work that my father was doing, so they became friends. Yeah, James Wong Howe was very good friend with my father. I remember before he passed away he came to see my father and they were talking out front of the studio -- this is after the World War II -- and then after that conversation he had with my father James Wong Howe passed away quite a, maybe a year or two after that.

MN: Do you think he learned, James Wong Howe really revolutionized camera work in Hollywood, do you think your father picked any of that from James Wong Howe?

AM: I think he did, yes. Very much.

MN: And then after that, so your father had the studio where, you said where Parker Center is right now? LAPD's Parker Center. At that time, how competitive was it to be a Japanese American photographer?

AM: Well, there were over ten studios in that Little Tokyo and he was one of them, so it was very competitive, yes. So he continued to get a lot of work from people in the, Hollywood people, so that's how he was able to keep going.

MN: Now, was it unusual for a Japanese photographer to have Caucasian clients?

AM: Oh yes, very much. Because most of the Japanese photographers couldn't speak English that well, and my father was somehow, been able to communicate with them.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

MN: So what year did your father formally open his studio?

AM: I believe it was about 1923 or '4.

MN: So this famous Japanese performer, Michio Ito, came from Japan to perform at the Hollywood Bowl.

AM: Yes.

MN: And Michio Ito and your father were friends. Now, can you share with us the story, what did Michio Ito ask your father to do?

AM: Well, my father was very interested in that type of dancing and things, and the kind of person that Michio Ito was, they were very close in the way of thinking of art and things like that, so they were, they had very interesting conversation between the two because they both had the same kind of interest. And so Michio Ito decided maybe he could have my father do some photography for him, so he did and he, Michio Ito liked his work so much that when Michio Ito decided to have a performance here he decided to have my father do all of the photography. So he did everything from the very beginning, all the rehearsals and things, taking pictures, and all the publicity type of work, and the people in Hollywood that had performance in Hollywood Bowl and things never saw anybody, a dancer that worked that much with a photographer. Of course, photography business wasn't that much into that type of work, and so when Michio Ito put on his program it was so successful, so that's, after that they decide to do the same thing, to have a photographer take pictures of everything and do a lot of publicity work. So that's how photography got into that type of work.

MN: So your father was the first photographer to cover the Hollywood Bowl performance, a Hollywood Bowl performance?

AM: Yes.

MN: Do you remember what year that is?

AM: Gee, I can't recall. 1935 or six maybe. I don't know. I'm not sure.

MN: Now, your father was also good friends with Yoshie Fujiwara --

AM: Yes.

MN: -- of the Fujiwara Opera Company. Can you share with us some of your father's friendship with Mr. Fujiwara and how that was?

AM: Yes. Well, when Mr. Fujiwara came over to United States, somebody must've referred Mr. Fujiwara to my father so that's how he became friends with my father. And then they were such a close friend and so whatever Mr. Fujiwara wanted to do he would always discuss with my father because he was connected with Michio Ito and all those things in that entertainment business. So he would consult with my father quite a bit, and so that's how close they were getting. And then when Mr. Fujiwara went back to Japan, and he had a son, so he sent his son over to United States to get education here, go to American school, so while his son was over here he, he worked as an assistant for my father. So he became, he was pretty interested in photography himself, so he was the only son for Mr. Fujiwara, so he studied English over here while working for my father.

MN: Now, when Mr. Fujiwara performed in Little Tokyo or in Los Angeles, were any other photographers allowed to take pictures or was it just exclusively with your father?

AM: It was exclusively my father because he was such a good friend.

MN: Did your father mingle with Japanese actors in America like Sessue Hayakawa?

AM: Yes. In fact, Mr. Hayakawa was a very close with my father, so that's how he, my father was able to get, get some work from Hollywood, because, through Sessue Hayakawa. And they liked the way my father took pictures of Sessue Hayakawa, so naturally he had a lot of following, followings from the Hollywood acting business.

MN: Now, your father had a very busy schedule. Can you share with me what that schedule was like?

AM: Well, he was establishing Little Tokyo and then when the Nisei Week started somehow he got involved in that, and so they asked him to take all those girls' pictures and things, the queen candidates' pictures and things, and so he was involved with Nisei Week almost from the beginning.

MN: So those pictures that they used to display, is it on the corner of First and San Pedro Street, were those your father's pictures, the queens candidates?

AM: Yes.

MN: So he did that from, almost from the beginning of Nisei Week?

AM: Yes, uh-huh.

MN: So did your father work seven days a week, morning to night?

AM: Just about. [Laughs] That's why he couldn't take us anywhere, because most of his work came in, he was real busy on weekends. It was, of course, his specialty 'cause of weddings and stuff like that, Saturday and Sunday. And lot of time night work, things like that. He was pretty involved with the Japanese community.

MN: Now, when you were growing up, did you resent not seeing your father?

AM: Well, not really because I was taught that he was real busy and all that and my mother always explained that he was so busy with his work at the studio, and so I kind of understood why he, he could not see us. But every now and then he would take off and take us to go, to go to the mountain to, for the snow and thing like that and really enjoyed it, so he tried to spend some time with us.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

MN: Tell us the story of when he took you to the mountains to see the snow. How often was this and where did you go? Did you go to Mount Wilson?

AM: Yes, it was Mount Wilson. In fact, when he said that in a few weeks he's gonna take us to Mount Wilson because there was quite a bit of snow up there, so I remember I, in fact, when I was only about ten years old, I didn't have any sled or anything, so I decided maybe I'll try to make one, so I did make a sled, although it wasn't that good of a sled. [Laughs] But I did that, yes. And there's also a picture that he took of me playing in the snow with the sled. He took movies of it. So he did quite a bit for us.

MN: Your father also loved music and he was also in a band.

AM: Yes.

MN: Can you share with us what was the band called and what instrument he played?

AM: He used to play saxophone, as I recall. In fact, when we went back to Japan he took that saxophone with him and he used to play that every now and then even in Japan, just for himself, not for the band or orchestra or anything, but just for the hobby of it he used to play, blow on his saxophone. But I used to like to hear him play the saxophone because there were a lot of songs that I liked that he played. And he really had interest in music.

MN: Do you know how he learned to play saxophone?

AM: I really don't know.

MN: And the band, was that called Mikado?

AM: Oh, yeah. That's right, there was a Mikado band that he played with. It was a pretty popular group that, people used to hire this band to play music for them for occasions, and so whenever the, those days, whenever Japanese community had some kind of activity they would invite this band, Mikado band, to play in their program, so they were pretty busy doing that, as entertainment.

MN: Your father was really busy. I'm gonna, I want to ask a little bit about you now. Which grammar school did you attend?

AM: I went, when I was living in Boyle Heights, that's where most of the Japanese people lived because there was, Little Tokyo was getting too filled up with people and so the only place to live, closest place was Boyle Heights, so we lived in Boyle Heights for quite a few years, which was, the house that we lived in was near the First Street School. We lived on Evergreen Avenue and I used to walk to school from there, which was only about three, four blocks away.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

MN: Did you attend Japanese language school?

AM: Yes, I did. One of the schools I went to was Chuo Gakuin, which was located on Saratoga Street in Boyle Heights. It was near First Street. And it was quite, one of the popular Japanese schools those days.

MN: Did you go every day or just Saturday?

AM: Oh, every day, after regular school.

MN: Now, did your parents enroll you in a martial arts like judo or kendo?

AM: I did a little bit. There was one teacher who was teaching kendo. He was an ex Japanese army officer who was very good with kendo. His name was, the teacher's name was Mr. Mori. My father became good, very good friend with him and then he thought maybe I should take up kendo from him, and upon his suggestion I decided to take, do kendo. And this teacher was very young person, but he was very, he was ex Japanese military man, so he was very strict and things like that. So I kind of liked it because, since I was in Japan and I'd learned some things about Japan, so he kind of fit right into what I was taught to do in Japan.

MN: So he sort of prepared you, when you went to Japan?

AM: Yes.

MN: And this Mr. Mori, is this Mr. Torao Mori?

AM: Yeah, Torao Mori.

MN: Now, you said you went to Chuo Gakuin. Chuo Gakuin also had a kendo class by Cedric Shimo's father.

AM: Yeah. Right.

MN: Why didn't you take kendo there?

AM: I don't know why, because I, my father was a very good friend with Mr. Shimo and Cedric, but I never did take a lesson from him, because I knew both Mr. Shimo and his son. I see Cedric even nowadays and we're still friends, but since I did take lessons from Mr. Mori, I just stuck with him.

MN: And Mr. Mori, where did he hold his classes at?

AM: Where the Parker Center was. Before Parker Center took over that area there was a kendo dojo there and judo dojo and sumo, but when the Parker Center took it over all that was gone, so after that I didn't take any more lessons.

MN: And was that formally called the Rafu Dojo?

AM: Yeah, I think it was.

MN: Now, when the Great Depression hit in the 1930s, was your father's studio affected? Did he lose customers?

AM: I think right about that time my father got a letter from Japan saying my grandfather was very ill so one of the sons has to go back, and so since my mother was a daughter of his, the grandfather's second wife, so my father decided he'll go back, and so he closed the studio and went back to Japan. And while, when we left Hawaii my grandfather already passed away, so we never got to Japan in time. So anyway, we went back, and my father stayed in Japan for one year and then he didn't want to start the studio in Japan because the town that my grandfather lived was too small of a town for his type of work, because his style of photography was quite artistic type and the people didn't go for that type of photograph those days. So he went to Tokyo and he asked a lot of friends in Tokyo for advice and they all told him, "You better go back to Los Angeles." So after one year in Japan my father came back to Los Angeles by himself. So we stayed two more years and then we decided to come back, so my mother, myself, and my younger brother, three of us, came back to Los Angeles.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

MN: Now, you were in Japan from 1933 to 1936, is that correct?

AM: Something like that, yes.

MN: When you went to Japan, how much Japanese did you speak?

AM: Well, my father, my mother wasn't able to speak English too well, so, although she did take class in English at the grammar school where I went -- they had a faculty, adult classes -- but she spoke mostly Japanese at home, so therefore I was exposed to her way of talking, so when I went back to Japan I didn't have that much difficulty in learning Japanese. So I started from second grade in Japan and I stayed there and attended school for three years.

MN: Where you supposed to be in second grade? If you were in United States --

AM: No, I would be, I was too old to be in the second grade.

MN: So you were put down a grade?

AM: Yes.

MN: In Japan. Now, do you remember this? You refused to get a bouzu haircut in Japan.

AM: Oh yeah. That's right. My, I left my hair long all that time and I was the only one student in whole school that had long hair. Everybody else had the bouzu haircut and I used to get teased about it all the time, but I refused to get my hair cut short. [Laughs] So that's why I stuck out that way with the long hair.

MN: Why didn't you want to get your hair cut?

AM: I just couldn't picture myself being short haired like that with the rest of them. And so I just refused to get my hair cut short, so I used to go to this one particular barber shop near where I lived and he used to cut my hair for me all the time, and I guess I was the only boy that he cut hair long like that, the way I had it. So I never did cut my hair short. [Laughs]

MN: Do you think your mother had to talk to the school officials to allow you to school like that?

AM: I'm sure she did, because that's, they were very conservative about things like that, so I'm pretty sure my father, my mother must've talked to the teacher because I didn't want my hair cut short, and so with that understanding, they let me, they let me go to the school with the hair long like that. Because everybody, all my classmates had their hair cut short.

MN: And you're getting picked on. Were you able to fight back?

AM: Well, they used to call me "Amerikajin, Amerikajin," but I didn't care. I didn't want my hair cut short. That's how much I wanted my hair long, even though they call me Amerikajin. [Laughs]

MN: Now, the time you were in Japan, Japan was becoming more militaristic.

AM: Yes.

MN: Was that noticeable in your area?

AM: Yes, very much, because there were about, oh, there was infantry division, cavalry division, also regular infantry; there was a division called the Kempeitai, which was the same as MP over here, and Hoheitai, which was, they, the division that used cannon for weapon and things like that, so the town was known for being very militaristic.

MN: Well, if you have, like, Kempeitai walkin' around, were you told to be careful with what you said?

AM: Well, we automatically kind of thought that way because we'd try to be loyal to Japan and never say anything to insult the military because they were, we were taught to be very respectful to the military at the school.

MN: Now, your grandfather had a very large house. Did the military rent out rooms in the house?

AM: Yes. My father, my grandfather had, with all the money that he made, when he went back to Japan he bought about five or six houses that were pretty big sized house, and he rented to the Kempeitai head man there and he lived right across from where I lived. And my grandfather had a two story house built and it was a big house, and right across was this Kempeitai head man living in the house. It had a beautiful garden, big garden. And so he had about three or four of those houses in Zentsuji, where he rented out to these military people.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

MN: Now, when you went to school in Japan, can you describe how your day started? Did it start with chourei?

AM: Well, I'll tell you, they were very, trying to teach students to be very patriotic, so the first thing when this school, in the morning at the school, the whole school would gather in one place and then the principal of the school would tell you to face towards the, Tokyo, which would mean northeast from where Zentsuji was, and then we would always bow our head towards the Tennoheika, every morning before we all went to our own class. And that's how, they tried to teach us patriotism that way.

MN: Did you have to memorize the Kyoiku Chokugo?

AM: Oh yeah, very much.

MN: When did you recite that?

AM: We recited that in our class, when it came to that period where we talked about how to be patriotic to Japan and thing like that.

MN: Now, I know back then the schools didn't have janitors. Did you do soujitouban, like cleaning?

AM: Oh yes. Everybody had to take turn doing touban, and that was part of the education.

MN: What did the boys do? Did they wipe the hallway or did they sweep, or what did the boys do?

AM: Well, we would clean our desk and sweep the floors and things like that. See, our class was all boys. Boys and girls were separate, so all the boys were together. So we were made into groups and each group had certain assignments to do, whether to clean the hallway or the outside and things like that. They called it touban.

MN: Now at this point in your life, did you consider yourself a Japanese or an American?

AM: Well, I felt very much like a Japanese, although my hair was long, so... well, in some ways I felt like I was American because my hair was long, and then yet I wanted to be a patriotic Japanese. So there was a little conflict there.

MN: Now, if Japan had drafted you into the Japanese army would you have gone into the Japanese army?

AM: Yes, I guess I would've, yeah.

MN: Did you have dual citizenship?

AM: No. I didn't have Japanese citizenship all that time. I guess I was too young yet then, so I guess people, my parents never thought of my having a Japanese citizenship or anything like that.

MN: And that was never an issue, going to a Japanese school in Japan?

AM: No.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

MN: So you were in Japan from 1933 to 1936. Your father returned to Los Angeles in '34 and your uncle who was here, he was running the shofudo, confectionary store, closed the store in 1936 and went back to Japan.

AM: That's because, the reason for my uncle to go back to Japan was because when my mother decided to bring us two children back to Los Angeles, which left my grandmother by herself, and that being my mother's mother, the uncle in Los Angeles decided they better come back because I'll be left, she'll be left by herself to take care of all the houses that my grandfather had purchased. So he decided to come back, so he sold the business and came back. So when he was coming back on the steamship we were going into Los Angeles, so we crossed each other in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

MN: Now, when your family returned to Los Angeles, did you live in the same Boyle Heights house?

AM: We, when we returned to Los Angeles we lived in Boyle Heights on Evergreen Avenue, which is close to, closer to Little Tokyo than where we used to live. It was about two miles further away from Little Tokyo where we used to live, but we were closer by two miles from Evergreen.

MN: When you returned to Los Angeles how much English did you remember?

AM: You know, when I came back I hardly knew any English, so therefore I had to go to classes starting from second grade, although I was much older than second grade students over here, so I went back to First Street School and I started from second grade.

MN: But when you returned to Los Angeles it was right before summer vacation. Is that right?

AM: Oh, yeah. So I attended some of the summer school, just to learn English.

MN: At Maryknoll?

AM: Maryknoll is one of them. I went there during the summer and then I learned some English, or relearned some English, and then when September started, when school started I enrolled at First Street School again and I started from second grade although I was much older than most of the students in the rest of the class.

MN: What grade were you supposed to be in?

AM: I was about one year or two years behind.

MN: So you were maybe, you were supposed to be maybe third or fourth grade?

AM: Yeah.

MN: Well, you couldn't speak English, but what about your math skills?

AM: Well, one, that's one area that I didn't have any problem, because of math, because in Japan they were much more advanced than over here, as far as math is concerned. So it was very easy for me because I knew multiplication before rest of the students over here because I learned it while I was in Japan. So the only thing that people over here in the second grade knew was addition and subtraction, and so when I came to school over here after I came back, math was the easiest subject for me. Reading was the most difficult part.

MN: So did your math skills let you, help you to skip, skip grades to be with the same, your peers?

AM: Yes. Well, what happened was I started from B2 and then the following year I was supposed to be A2, but they skipped me the A's and we, they put me into B3. And then from B4, from there, B3, I went to B4 and then I skipped every, what is it...

MN: Semester?

AM: All the A's anyway. And then from B5 I went straight to junior high, seventh grade, so that was the hardest part for me.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

MN: Well, when you came back, you're struggling through First Street Grammar School, your father had his studio, and then your mother also helped at the studio. What did your mother do at the studio?

AM: She used to attend to the customers and she was very good at that, and then anything to make arrangement, my father, my mother was very good at that, because my father never did like to do that much of that type of work, so my mother was a great help to my father. So all the preparation and thing, my mother was very good at that, and so making, taking down appointments and things, and she was very, well, people liked her because she was so easy to approach. And then he would, she would make all the arrangement for picture appointments and things like that and my father didn't have to worry about anything like that, so that made things easier for him because all he had to do was concentrate on taking the picture of the people. And my father always got familiar with each customer and I guess he'd get the, he got to know the people so much that he knew just about the type of work that they will like so he would approach the kind of portrait that he would take for each customer according to the way he felt, so I think that's where it made a lot of difference of the type of work that he did because he was, he was very understanding of the people that he was taking the picture of. It wasn't just people coming in and then my father would take 'em, take them in front of the camera and pose them and take, take picture, but he got to know each person very well and studied them and while doing so he came up with all his idea what this person would like.

MN: Well, you, both of your parents are busy, so from your grammar school days you had to look after your younger brothers and your sister. How did you prepare their dinners?

AM: Well, my mother used to go to work every day and she would prepare things in the morning and leave some of it cooked halfway or something and then she would tell me how to finish cooking it and I would just follow her instruction. And then, course, cooking the rice, she taught me how to cook the rice from, from the time you wash it and then how you put it into a pan and how much water you put in there and thing like that, and how many minutes to cook, and she taught me how to make the rice, so that part she didn't have to worry about because I knew how to make the rice. She taught me how. So the other things I had to warm it up or things like that, but, well, my mother was a very good cook in that way where she got things prepared for me to just, it wasn't very difficult the way she did it because she was very clever at that.

MN: Now, there was also a Mrs. Hochi.

AM: Yes.

MN: Who was she?

AM: Well, she lived about three, four doors away from where we lived and she's the one that used to drive all the children to school and things like that on her car. And she was a great help because, see, where I lived, the same side of where she lived on Evergreen, and the side that we lived on we had to go way out to Stevenson Junior High, which is about two, three miles from where we lived, maybe more than that. And then Hollenbeck Junior High, which was much closer, but we had to go to Stevenson Junior High, so Mrs. Hochi used to take us to school and bring us back and then she would have dinner ready for us, so my brother and I would go to her house to eat dinner so my mother didn't have prepare anything for that day. So it was, she was just like our second mother almost 'cause she was so nice to us.

MN: Now, when you came back from Japan you were going to the Nichiren Buddhist Church Japanese class, is that correct?

AM: Yes, I started to go over there to learn, to take Japanese class. The reason that I went over there is because this man named Mr. Shimo used to teach Japanese school there. And he was a good friend of my father and also he had a son named Cedric Shimo and I was very good friends with him, so when I had to go to Japanese school I started going over there first.

MN: And was that Cedric Shimo's father or mother that taught at the Nichiren Church?

AM: Father and the mother.

MN: And did they also teach at Chuo Gakuen?

AM: No.

MN: No. But you transferred to Chuo Gakuen, is that right?

AM: Yes, I did.

MN: And why did you transfer to Chuo Gakuen?

AM: One thing, Chuo Gakuen is much closer to where I lived.

MN: Now, how was the Chuo Gakuen curriculum in comparison to education in Japan?

AM: Well, for me, Chuo Gakuen was much easier because I knew much more Japanese than the rest of the students and so I had no problem in that way. It was almost like reviewing for me almost because everything I learned in Japan they were still teaching over here.

MN: Now you lived in Boyle Heights, and then on weekends you went into Little Tokyo. I guess you went to Sunday school at Koyasan, is that, does that sound about right?

AM: Yes, I used to go Sunday school there. That's, that's, where Koyasan used to be on Central Avenue and then eventually when they built the new building on First Street I started going over there, too. So I think my parents were Koyasan members, so that's the reason why I went to Koyasan, too.

MN: And you had a lot of friends in Little Tokyo. What sort of games did you play in Little Tokyo?

AM: Let's see...

MN: Did you play on the trains at all, the freight trains that were around?

AM: Oh, yes. Back of where my uncle had his, I mean, where my grandfather started the confectionary store was a place where the train used to put their things and unload and load and things like that, so Alameda Street, used to be a train track on there, so always a train would be going north and south there, so we were very close to railroad train tracks and so we used to play on the train and things like that. That was one of the things that we had fun doing.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

MN: So now, once you graduated from First Street Grammar School you mentioned you went to Stevenson Junior High School and then you were elected the social studies president.

AM: Oh, yeah. [Laughs]

MN: Now, how did that come about and what did you have to do as the president?

AM: Well, I was very active, I guess, in some ways of trying to have the class doing other things. Well, the reason for that was because the upbringing that I had in Japan where we had to do a lot of things to, for the community and things like that, so... and being the president of the class, too, was kind of a pride to me because of all the things that happened in Japan. Well, in mathematics I was much more advanced than a lot of the students because I knew so much more because of training I had in Japan, so they kind of, people kind of thought that I should run for something in the class, so I did. And so that's how I got involved with being on the, well, as a president of the class and things like that. I guess it kind of gave me pride in things like that.

MN: Now, from Stevenson you went to Roosevelt High.

AM: Yes.

MN: Did you join the Japanese club at Roosevelt High?

AM: You know, I don't think I was able to. I wanted to, but since I did live close to Roosevelt High School soon as I finished Roosevelt I had to go to Japanese school and things like that, so I didn't have much chance to do anything at high school.

MN: But you had a hobby. You liked to make model airplanes.

AM: Yes.

MN: Can you share with us how you became interested in this hobby and were you in a club?

AM: Yes. When I lived on Evergreen, this, Mrs. Hochi had a son. He was also interested in making model airplanes. He was very good at it. He used to design his own plane and fly it and he used to win tournaments and things, like a contest, photo, airplane contest which was held every month, was sponsored by the Los Angeles Examiner. It was in Gardena. Western Avenue, there was an airport there and we used to go fly airplanes over there for the monthly contest. And this, his name was Kenichi Hochi, and he used to win some prizes with his plane, so I got to know him, so he got me interested in making model airplanes, so I did make some model airplanes. And I liked to do things like that, so I was very fortunate to have a friend like Ken Hochi.

MN: I imagine this was a very expensive hobby. How did you get money to buy the kits?

AM: [Laughs] Well, we tried to make the airplane the most economical way, so we used to buy each part by itself, little by little, and then construct the thing without making, buying a kit or anything like that. When you do that it costs you a lot of money, so we used to make everything ourselves. Even, we used to carve our own propeller to make our own, carve out of wood to make our own propeller, which was very difficult to do and not too many people did that, but Ken and I used to work together and try to make our own propeller and things like that. And so he was trying to do things very economically, too, so we worked together trying to make things so it won't cost us too much to keep the hobby up, and so... oh, and now and then he used to win the airplane contest which was help monthly by the Examiner and so we kept doing that.

MN: Were you in a club?

AM: I forget. Yeah, there was a club in Boyle Heights. I forget the name of the club, but I'm trying to think of what it was, but it was, it consisted of people, young boys in Boyle Heights. In fact, there was a fellow named Andrew Peterson who used to sell these parts as his business and he was part of the club, too. So I used to go to him to buy all the airplane parts and he, he would give us everything very cheaply so we could afford it. So that's how Ken and I used to keep the hobby going. And then eventually when the gasoline motor came out we both started doing that and that's when it started costing quite a bit more to make a model airplane because we had to make a bigger airplane, which meant it cost more to make. But we kept it up for a few years, but then eventually we got much older for doing that, so we stopped doing it.

MN: Now, what was the ethnic makeup of your club?

AM: It was mostly, well, there were a few Japanese, about three or four, and then the rest of 'em were Caucasian or Mexicans or thing like that.

MN: Now you mentioned Gardena. Was this Mines Field that you went out to to test out your planes?

AM: No, there was an airport, what is now, it's not airport anymore, but there used to be a small airport there and there was a, there weren't that many buildings in Gardena those days. It was, a lot of it was farm area, so it was pretty wide open, so that's why we decided to go to, all the way to Gardena, because the club we belonged to, this one fellow had a car, so he used to take us on his car. And so it was on Rosecrantz and Western Avenue. It was a very wide open area and it was in the airport, small airport, but then it was such a small airport there weren't that many airplanes flying from there, so we used to fly our model airplanes there. And then we used to sometimes, you know when you take a plane and go up real high, sometimes there's an air current that carries your plane far away, so we used to follow that quite a, quite a ways and sometimes we'd even lose sight of it, but we always managed to somehow get it back. And we have to run, run all over the place trying to keep up with the plane.

MN: Now, did you know Takashi Hoshizaki before the war? He was also into model airplanes, but he lived in Hollywood area.

AM: His name was...

MN: Takashi Hoshizaki.

AM: I can't recall that name.

MN: Now you had this model airplane hobby, were you interested in photography at all?

AM: After doing all those model airplanes and then when I went to Roosevelt High School I took up a class in photography and that's when I started to go into photography more.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

MN: Now, you were a tenth grader at Roosevelt High when Pearl Harbor was attacked. What do you remember of December 7, 1941?

AM: Well, I was really kind of disappointed that the war started, but I thought, well, I better go to school anyway, somehow, so I went to the school and everything seemed so quiet and then people didn't talk about the war that much, I remember. I remember seeing Bruce Kaji, who was, he was in Roosevelt same time I was, and we didn't even talk that much about the war. And then when we got the order to evacuate I had to stop school and then... well, I was wondering what to do with everything. My father, who had purchased a house on, near the Hollenbeck Park, we were living there when the war broke out, so this house had a four car garage, and so my father decided to put all the belongings into the garage, in one of the garage. And right, it was a year before the war broke out that my father started taking pictures for the White Memorial Medical School, and he was taking all the graduates pictures about, about two or three years before the World War II started. And then after this one group he was taking, when the war started, so he asked, when one of the students came after the picture, he asked him, "You know, I live in this house near where White Memorial was. Would anybody be interested in staying there?" He said, "Oh, sure. I think there is somebody." So this person arranged to have this person rent the place, and so when my father heard that he was quite, quite relieved. So what he did was he left everything, the pots and pans and dishes, everything in the way that we were using it and also the furniture, and all they had to do was move in and the bed and everything was there, so all the, all the personal belongings, he put it into the garage. And so the students were very happy because all they had to do was move in. So each student, as they finished, they got a replacement for somebody to stay there so they were paying rent, and they paid it to the bank, which went to the payment of the house. So he was renting it very cheap to the students, just enough to make the payment. So that way he was very fortunate, so when we, when the war ended, well, there was still students there, so what my father did was he converted one of the four car garage into a living quarter --

MN: Before we go to after the war, let me go back to December 7th, okay?

AM: Okay.

MN: That was a Sunday.

AM: Yeah.

MN: And you were going into town with your father on that Sunday.

AM: Yeah.

MN: And do you remember how you heard that announcement?

AM: Yes. Every Sunday, or weekends, my father used to take me into Little Tokyo to go to his studio so I could do some help there, or go to the Sunday school, whatever. Well, on that December 7th morning, as we were going over the First Street bridge -- my father had a radio in his car, which was, well, it was kind unusual to have a radio that much those days because car radios weren't that many around -- well, he had the news on and then on the news that the Pearl Harbor attacked by the Japanese and it got bombed there. So I couldn't believe it, that Japan would be attacking Pearl Harbor. So that happened, so my father heard it, too, so I guess we thought, well, there's gonna be a war, so that's, that's when I first heard about the war in Japan, yes.

MN: Now, did your father have to shoot a wedding that day?

AM: Yes, he did. But as it happened, the wedding went on okay and then during the reception, FBI came to arrest some of the people who were at the wedding reception and they were taken, taken in and taken to... they were arrested, anyway.

MN: Well at the time you didn't know where they were taking them, is that right?

AM: No. No, we didn't know.

MN: Did the FBI arrest any of your neighbors?

AM: No, not that I know of.

MN: Do you remember the JACL's Anti-Axis office in Little Tokyo?

AM: There was an organization like that, yeah, but I wasn't too much into that. No, I wasn't too, no, I'm not too familiar with that.

MN: Do you remember what people were saying about the JACL?

AM: Well, first of all that, I think the Issei people, they were being arrested and thing like that, so they were not too happy with the JACL, what was, what they were doing and what kind of thing they were doing, so they weren't very well thought of, I guess.

MN: Now, when you say the Isseis were not happy, were they, did they think the JACL was furnishing names on, of the Isseis?

AM: That could've been, yes.

MN: Now, when the Terminal Islanders got kicked out of their house in early 1942, did they move into your Boyle Heights neighborhood?

AM: There were quite a few that came to Boyle Heights area. Let's see, I remember some of the students that started to come to the school, they were from Terminal Island, too. There weren't that many, but they were not concentrated anymore, but I'm trying to think of... you see, the thing I knew, the thing that I was familiar with the Terminal Island people was because my father used to go every Wednesday to Terminal Island to take pictures for them because it was too hard for them to come all the way into Little Tokyo to take pictures, so my father decided to go every Wednesday when he had the time to take pictures over there, so he would arrange appointments. And then this Mr. Murakami built a building there and he told my father, they were good friends, so Mr. Murakami told my father, you're welcome to use the, his second floor space to, for his studio every Wednesday, if you want. So my father started opening his studio every Wednesday over there. Whenever there was an appointment he would go. So that's how close my father was with the Terminal Island people. And so when the Terminal Islanders went into Manzanar, quite a few of them went to Manzanar, so he was, Mr. Murakami who was a Terminal Islander, he had his business there and my father was very good friends with Mr. Murakami.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

MN: Now, a lot of the Boyle Heights people, they were sent to Poston or Gila River, but your family ended up at Manzanar. How was this arranged?

AM: Well, when the Little Tokyo people were being rounded up, my father signed up with that group in Little Tokyo, so that's how we ended up in Manzanar. So the block that we lived in, which was Block 20, had a lot of the people from Little Tokyo living in Block 20.

MN: So that wasn't a problem?

AM: No.

MN: If you wanted to go with the downtown group you could just register with them?

AM: Yeah, so my, because my father had the business there in Little Tokyo, it was no problem there.

MN: Back in 1942 when the government put out a call for volunteers to help build Manzanar, your female cousin went by herself.

AM: Yeah.

MN: Can you tell me a little bit about this cousin of yours and was your family in communication with her once she went to Manzanar?

AM: Yeah, so you know what happened was she went back to Japan when we were coming back to Los Angeles because, she was going back because her father decided to go back to Japan because his wife's daughter, who was my mother, was coming back here and then they were very concerned about the widow left behind, so they decided to sell the business, so they went back. So we went, we crossed each other in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And so my cousin went back on that ship and then after a few years she wanted to come back here, so she did. And so she continued her school after she got back here and when the war broke out and when they started talkin' about Manzanar, my cousin volunteered to go to Manzanar with the first group, so they had to go on their own car, so she went up there and start to work there to set up the, well, I don't know what capacity she was there for, but anyway, she was one of the original founders of the people that started the camp. And so when it was time for my family to go into relocation camp, my father signed up to go with the Little Tokyo people because they were going to Manzanar. So that's how we got there, and so my cousin was there already, ready for us.

MN: Now, she wrote letters to your mother and in that letter what did she suggest that your family bring?

AM: Oh yeah, she was telling my mother what kind of clothing to bring, and so naturally a good windbreaker and things like that, warm clothes to keep warm, and then such thing as slippers and things like that to walk around. She gave my mother a lot of things that she would need, so that was a big help, I'm sure.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

MN: Now, did your family go into an assembly center or go straight to Manzanar?

AM: Straight to Manzanar.

MN: How did you get to Manzanar?

AM: Okay, the thing, the way we had to do was go to the old train station, not the new Union Station where it is now, but the one that's further south from where it is now. It was an old train station and we, of course, before we went there we had to get shots and thing like that, and then...

MN: How did you get to the train station?

AM: Let's see, I'm trying to think of how we did get there. I think my father had somebody take us there so we didn't have to -- what my father did with his, the car was he gave it to Father Lavery of Maryknoll so he could use it, and then that took care of the car. And so all the equipment was put into public storage. That's right, my father's photography equipments was put into public storage.

MN: It wasn't put into one of your garages?

AM: Yeah, it was, some of it was in the garage and then some of it was in the public storage, the big things and things like that. But it was a good thing he did that because after being in internment camp for a while, people started saying he should start taking pictures, "because some of the boys are going into the army or relocating, so we need family pictures." So there was a, kind of a need for a studio to be opened, so my father decided to open a studio under the Manzanar Cooperative Enterprise, which meant that it was nonprofit type of business. But when he went to the camp director to ask him if he could start a studio, the camp director says, "You know, you can't open a studio because you're a Japanese and we're still in California and Japanese are not allowed to take photographs, so you have to hire a Caucasian to click the shutter. If that's okay with you then you can open your studio." So my father said okay, so they found this one fellow that just graduated photography school in Los Angeles, and he was hired and he came to Manzanar, so he was clicking the shutter after my father got everything all ready.

MN: I want to stop you right there on that story 'cause I still want to, I'll get back to that story.

AM: Okay.

MN: But we're still out, we're still getting to Manzanar right now, okay?

AM: Okay.

MN: Okay. The train that you took in 1942, were you on the same train with Ralph Lazo and Sue Kunitomi Embrey and Bruce Kaji?

AM: I think Ralph Lazo was on the train.

MN: Okay. Now, what were your thoughts and feelings about having to go to camp?

AM: Well, I had to kind of give up the idea of trying to live in Los Angeles because if it's war with Japan I just had to kind of forget that, living in Los Angeles is something that's gonna be too hard and gonna treated like, as an enemy anyway, I thought. So I didn't hesitate -- well, I thought maybe this was the only way for Japanese to live as, if we could live through this war together that might be the only way, so I kind of gave that thought. So while leaving Los Angeles was not very good, but that was the only thing we could do, so my father signed up with people in Little Tokyo and so we had to leave quite early compared to some of the other people who went to Poston and Gila, because those camps were not even built then. And so we went to Santa Fe Station and got on the train, and my mother prepared some lunch for us to eat so we had a lunch to eat in case we got hungry, so, well, families stayed together, so that way we kind of felt pretty safe. And so we had to get on the train, but the thing about it was we had to close the window; we couldn't look out. So we had to stay in the dark all the way just about. We could not see outside because we were not allowed to do that. And so, well, it was a long ride.

MN: How long was the ride?

AM: Oh, we left about seven or eight o'clock in the morning and we got there about four or five, I think, and from there we took the bus into, into the Manzanar, from Lone Pine that is.

MN: So the train went to Lone Pine and then from there you took the bus. Do you remember what month this was in '42?

AM: It was July, I think.

MN: Might be a little earlier since you were one of the earlier.

AM: Oh, that's right, yeah.

MN: Could it be May?

AM: Or early June maybe.

MN: Okay, early June.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

MN: Now, when you stepped off that bus into Manzanar what was your first impression of Manzanar?

AM: Well, for one thing, it was a dry heat, so it, and the air was pretty clear, so I thought, wow, this is not too bad. I thought, but then after we got there and we settled into our barracks and then the wind started to blow and then all that dust, I thought, oh my gosh, we have to put up with all this dust. But we thought, "Well, but at least we're all together," so that was the only way we could think, that we were together.

MN: So when you arrived at Manzanar what was some of the first things you had to do?

AM: Well, we were put into our barracks and there was nothing there, just the cot where we slept. And then, well, there was no chairs or anything, so only thing we, I could think of was, "I got to start making some things," so I would go to the kitchen area where lettuce crate was being thrown out and we used to pick up those lettuce crates and take it apart and then try to make something with that. So we made little stools from it and little shelves. Eventually I was able to find some bigger lumber left over from making the barracks and I started making a kitchen area for my mother so she could do little cooking because she had a little electric stove, or electric, what is it, the hotplates and things. And, well, of course during the junior high years I used to take woodshop because I liked to make things out of wood, so I had a little knowledge about making things out of lumber.

MN: Now, is this because you took a class with Mr. Sasaki?

AM: Oh, that's right. After we went into Manzanar there was a class that he had of carpentry, so I signed up for that because I liked to do woodwork, and so he was teaching how to make, teaching us how to make things out of lumbers and things like that, so that of kind kept me very interested, doing things at, in Manzanar.

MN: Do you still have the saw that you bought through Mr. Sasaki?

AM: I did have it for a long time, but gee, I don't know what happened to it. It's really pretty worn out by now. Yeah, I still have one of the saws.

MN: So you said you were making things out of wood and you came up with this idea of making screens with drywall and wood.

AM: Oh, yeah.

MN: Can you share with us where did you get this idea and what did other people think about this?

AM: Well, the thing about, the reason I thought of those things is because I lived in Japan and I saw how shoji was made, so I got the idea from time I lived in Japan. So when you open the door to go into the barrack you could see right through, see everything, so there's no privacy, so I made a screen so when the, when somebody opens the door all you see is screen from the outside, so that's the reason why I did that. And people in our block liked the idea so much that they asked me to make it for them, too, so I made some for people. And then I made some tables for some people. That was, I don't know, somehow I got these scrap lumbers and was able to put things together. But then I, when Mr. Sasaki had the class teaching us these carpentry, I was able to purchase some tools from, by mail orders and things, so some of those tools I still have.

MN: So most of this lumber, were you borrowing them from the government?

AM: Well that's what we called, we said, we're just borrowing it for the time being. So I never had any guilty conscience because I was going to use it and then leave it there when we leave. [Laughs]

MN: What was the food like in the mess halls?

AM: Well anyway, we would walk around and find out some of the things that each mess hall was making. Some mess halls the cook was a little more, well, they were more clever maybe, so whenever we heard of some mess hall that had this certain food we would get in line at our mess hall, eat a little bit and then take off right away and go to this other mess hall where we could still line up and get in line with them, so in case they run out of the thing we still had something in our stomach so we weren't, we wouldn't starve. But they always tried to keep us to stay in our own block to eat, but as the cook changed we watched what kind of cook was the new cook and a lot of times it was a different cook, so it was good. They, they would have different technique in cooking and it was kind of refreshing to have different cooks make things. Same things maybe, but we somehow got used to it. Well, Block 20 had, generally had a pretty good cook, so that was, we were very lucky that way.

MN: Did you eat with your family or with your friends?

AM: We ate, we ate with our friends mostly. It got that way because, well, when we'd get in line and things... well, I don't know, it's easier that way. So that way maybe the camp life kind of put our family out secondary almost, except at nighttime after we'd eat, finish eating, we would be home again. But other than that, well, we got to make, we got to be able to make friends with people in our block. Yeah.

MN: Now earlier you mentioned Ralph Lazo.

AM: Yeah.

MN: And you got to know Ralph Lazo once you started school, is that, is that right? School at Manzanar?

AM: Yeah. Yeah, I remember him when he was on the train. We told him, "Hey, the train's gonna leave. You better get off because you're gonna go into camp." Says, "What are you talkin' about? I'm gonna go with you guys." [Laughs] He stayed on the train and went with us to Manzanar, so he lived in Block 19, I lived on Block 20. It was the next block, where he lived. So he was really kind of life of the party because I guess he had so many friends while he was going to school in Belmont High School, so that's where a lot of the Japanese went anyway.

MN: So what did you think about this Mexican American kid coming into camp with you guys?

AM: I don't know, we felt like he was part of us, you know? We accepted him because he was, well, he never thought himself as some foreigner with us. He felt like he fit right in, so naturally we accepted him that way. So he was, he used to be kind of a life of the party almost.

MN: Now, I understand he lived in the bachelor quarters. Was he pretty popular with the older bachelors?

AM: [Laughs] Yeah, well he was nice to them. I think they liked him because he was very thoughtful and he would do things for them that the older people wouldn't try to do. He would do a lot of things for them in a convenient way, I guess.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

MN: Now, let's see, December 1943 there was a riot at Manzanar. Where were you when that was, when that occurred?

AM: Let's see, I was in my apartment with my father and I told him, "I just want to go see what's going on," so he said, "No, no, you stay here 'cause I don't want you to get mixed up over there." And he was afraid, you know, something'll happen to me because, well, the MP were very, pretty nervous at the time, so you never know what they might do if so many people gathered around 'em. So he told me to stay in the apartment, don't go anywhere, 'cause he wanted to stay together. So I just stayed and with, with the rest of the family, and we just waited for the news, see what was going on.

MN: What was the atmosphere like the days following the riot?

AM: It was very, kind of uneasy. We were very, well, we were very concerned what's gonna happen. There were some groups that were pretty sensitive about the whole thing. They were very anti type of thinking that they had. You could almost say they were sort of pro Japanese type, Japan type of attitude, but... of course, the U.S. government was very sensitive, too, because it started from just one person that tried to take some food and he was very, they accused him of something, I guess, so things were very touchy, I guess. But, well, by then my father was fairly good friends with camp director, Mr. Ralph Merritt, and my father had a lot of respect for him and he thought that he should try to stay, stay out of this, this thing as much as possible, so he was very sensitive that way.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

MN: Now, let's talk about your father a little bit. Your father worked in the visual museum in Manzanar, is that correct?

AM: Yes.

MN: What was the visual museum? What did he do there?

AM: Before he started in his photography in Manzanar, he worked under Mr. Tsuchiya, who was the head of the museum, and he was, his thinking was very close with what Mr. Tsuchiya was trying to accomplish and he was trying to work so that people will be interested in a museum, so he would try to do things where people would come to the museum. So Mr. Namatsue, who was my father's very close friend, he was very much in the same way of thinking, too, so those three really got along well and so the museum was set up and it was coming along real good.

MN: Did they have exhibits, or what, what was in the museum?

AM: Well, I was wondering what they could do, so what, what the museum was trying to do was trying to get things together that were available in Manzanar desert itself, to get the people interested in what's possible there, so they would set up the museum with idea of creative interest of what kind of things are, are there available in Manzanar. So they worked on the history of Manzanar. It was like a apple orchard and then there were people living there, and why apple orchard was started, and things like that, so they approached a lot of the things like that. It was quite interesting how they created the museum. So my father was very interested in that, that sort of thing, too.

MN: And was this museum in a certain barrack?

AM: Yes. It was one barrack that, each block had one barrack that can be used for things like that or any kind of activity that people wanted to do in that block, so I forgot what block it was, but they had the museum there and then my father worked there until he decided to open the studio.

MN: Now, before he decided to open the studio, when did your father first tell you and show you that he smuggled these camera lens and the film slides?

AM: Okay, it was about three or four months after we, we were put into Manzanar and I was playing with some friends outside, and then all of a sudden my father told me to go inside the apartment, so I thought I did something wrong, he was gonna bawl me out. So I went in the apartment and he told me to sit down. He says, "I got to show you something." So he went to his suitcase and took out some lenses and some film holders and put it on the table. I was wondering what he was gonna do with that. Then he says, "As a photographer, I have a responsibility." I didn't know what he was talking about. And he says, "Well, you know, I have to take all the pictures in Manzanar so to keep a record of what's going on here, so this kind of thing will never happen again." That was his responsibility, to record the camp life. So he says, "I'm going to have a camera made with this, for this lens and I have this film holder so I could get some film and put it in there." And so he proceeded to have a camera made.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

MN: Now how long after he talked to you and how long did it take for the actual camera to be made, the box?

AM: It was about four or five months. He found the carpenter and he told him exactly what he wanted to have made, he gave him the measurements and then what had to be done so he could put the film holder in the back of the camera, so this man was very clever in making it. And then for focusing the lens he had to move the lens in and out, so what he did was, there was an auto mechanic that he knew very well, he was head of the automobiles repair section of Manzanar, so he asked him if he could make something so he could make the lens go in and out. And he thought and thought, and he got an idea of using a drain pipe. It's about this long and had thread all the way, from beginning to the very end, so what he did was he got the drain pipe and the, also the round ring that goes around it and then had, this had the thread on it so he could screw in the pipe in and out so my father could focus the image on the ground glass. So he made that. It was amazing. It's right here.

MN: Can you show us how this works? This is the actual camera that your father had made in Manzanar. So what you just touched right now, was that the drain pipe?

AM: Yeah. It's... let's see, forgot how it worked. [Laughs] I can't turn the drain pipe, I don't know why. Anyway...

MN: But that is a drain pipe?

AM: Yes. It's in there.

MN: Oh, and that's how your father was able to focus? He just kind of twisted it in or twisted it out?

AM: Yeah.

MN: And this box has no nails on it.

AM: No. This carpenter was very clever and he, what he did was he fitted the corners so well that he just, it's held by glue. And then, as you can see, there's a lot of pieces put together to make the wood, the board.

MN: So if you wanted to use this camera now, would, could you take a picture with this?

AM: Yes. The shutter works on here.

MN: So that piece that you're touching right now, is that something your father had to bring in?

AM: Yes.

MN: So he brought that piece in and then the film holder, you said.

AM: Yes, and this part here.

MN: And then everything else was made in camp.

AM: And then this is the film holder.

MN: Now where does that go? Does that go inside?

AM: Yes. So the film goes in here.

MN: Pretty amazing.

AM: Yeah, see how clever he made these things? So that it'll stay up until he, this, when he finished, then he could just go like this and close it. And then also he made this part where he could put it onto a tripod.

MN: Wow. That is really amazing.

AM: Yeah, he was, and this is all made out of tin and piece of aluminum, for the handle.

MN: And you said this took about four or five months to make?

AM: Yeah.

MN: Do you remember who made this box?

AM: No, I can't remember the carpenter's name. But the one that made this part here, he was a mechanic. His name was Mr. Kanemoto.

MN: So I'm, to get a sense of time, your family probably went into Manzanar about June and then about four months later your father had this talk with you. So maybe October? October 1942?

AM: Yeah.

MN: And then another four or five months later is when your father actually had a camera. So between that time your father was not shooting then?

AM: No. And then [puts camera away] --

MN: Thank you.

AM: -- when the Manzanar camp was, we were, oh, about seven, eight months into the camp, and then when the camera was made, my father found out that this man that worked at the California Hardware was coming to take orders for hardware because California Hardware had a contract with the WRA, so the man that was, my father helped build a studio for the California Hardware for, was representing the company to take orders from Manzanar --

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

<Begin Segment 19>

MN: Can we, let me ask you a little bit about the California Hardware, which had a huge store in Little Tokyo at the time, and you said it was on the corner of First and --

AM: Alameda Street.

MN: Alameda. And then, now how did your father help this gentleman?

AM: Okay, when my father started the business in Little Tokyo there were about ten, ten other photography studios, so the competition was very, pretty, pretty high. So this California Hardware company happened to find out my father was real good at taking merchandise pictures, so they started giving him a lot of, giving him a lot of work from the hardware company, which helped my father a great deal at the very beginning. But this hardware company decided, well, they got so much work, so they decided to make their own place, photo department, so my father, instead of ignoring them, he went to help them set up the photo department. And it so happened that this man that my father helped make the photo department in California Hardware was the same man that used to come to Manzanar when my father, when the whole Japanese was put into internment camp, and they had a contract with the WRA, War Relocation Authority. So this hardware company got the contract from the WRA to furnish the hardware and this man that my father helped build a studio, a photography department in hardware company, happened to be the same man that my father helped came every month to take order from the WRA people. So when my father found that out he right away asked if he, if he would get something for him, and this man was very cooperative because my father helped him so much making this photo department, so he said, "Sure, anytime you want anything let me know." So my father got a hold of him when he needed the film and things and so my father gave him the address, the dealer where he could get the things, because my father dealt with this man for so many years that he was very cooperative in giving him the films and things, because there was already a ration to each studio, whatever they could get. Well, this man was, dealer was nice enough to take little bit from all the other studio business that he had and give it to my father, and so that's how my father was able to get the film supply.

MN: Now, your father was still undercover. Nobody knew, well the administration didn't know he was taking photos, so how did your father get the film and the chemical from this man? How did they exchange it?

AM: Okay, this photographer that the, that my father had to have take pictures because he was a Caucasian because Japanese, he couldn't take it himself, had to go every now and then to Los Angeles to buy the film supplies or any other supply that he needed for the studio. So my father told him the dealer that he could go to because my father had dealing with him, so he gave him the address and things and, and my father would place the order with this dealer and this Caucasian fellow that was a photographer for my father would go to Los Angeles and pick up these things. So that's how he was able to get the film supply. Otherwise he would've never been able to get the film.

MN: But that was after he talked to Ralph Merritt. Now I'm asking you, before he talked to Ralph Merritt and he was still doing this undercover and this California Hardware man was coming in, how was your father able to get the film? He wasn't openly giving it to your father?

AM: Oh. No, he had to be very careful how he got the film to my father, so whenever he had to get something for my father he told my father he will have his coat hanging in the hallway when he takes the order from the WRA people, so he will have it in his pocket, so while he's taking order, my father was instructed by him to take the things out of his pocket and whenever a thing was delivered too big, he would leave his trunk of the car ajar and he'll leave it there. The only way my father could get these things was to have one of the policemen -- and these policemen were all Japanese internees -- and so he knew a few of them, so he would ask them if he would go to the administration building and there's a coat hanging in the hallway, so, "There's things in there for me, so if you could, if this thing can be brought to me." So this policeman would be very cooperative for my father and would get these things, and then if it's in the trunk of the car they would get, go to the car and get the thing out of his trunk and put it into the police car and then take it to my father. So that's how he was getting his film supply.

MN: How was your father paying this man?

AM: He would tell him how much these items were and my, he would tell my father how much it is and so my father would somehow pay him. I don't know how he did it, but he was paying him for it.

MN: Now, your early photographs, did your father have people in it and why not?

AM: Well, the early photographs, before the studio was open he would take pictures early in the morning or, or during the time when people were eating, because we all had to eat in our own mess hall, so there'd be hardly anybody around. And he would go around taking pictures of the camp site and things like that, and then whenever there was people he would take pictures from a distance so, well, I guess they didn't know he was a photographer, so it was okay, but some of 'em began to know he was a photographer, so he was very careful how he did it. But a lot of the people knew that it was, camera was illegal, so when they had picture taken they would keep it quiet so they could have a picture. My father would give it to them. So that way he was able to keep it a secret.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

MN: Now, you know your father's doing something that is illegal, did you ever fear for him?

AM: See, I didn't even know he was doing it because he would develop the film after everybody'd gone to sleep. He would do it in the total darkness while we were all asleep. And then as far as water's concerned, he didn't have to worry about paying the water bill or anything, so he would go to the latrine or whatever, or he would set up a thing outside, right outside where there's a faucet and do the washing of the pictures and the films outside in the, where the water faucet was.

MN: So the latrine is, was his darkroom?

AM: Well, more or less, yeah. But he set up the place in the apartment where we lived, but he would put it all away by the morning and we wouldn't even know he was doing anything.

MN: But, you know, the chemical has a real strong smell to it.

AM: Yeah.

MN: I mean, didn't your barrack smell like that?

AM: Well, I didn't notice anything. 'Course, he probably did most of the chemical work in the latrine maybe, or in the laundry room or whatever. Maybe more of a more laundry room because there weren't that many people going to the laundry room as in the toilet because people, you don't know, people might come middle of the night to go to the toilet, thing like that.

MN: So you didn't know he was doing all this?

AM: No.

MN: When did you find out? And how did you find out?

AM: He told me later. He told me what he had done.

MN: Later after camp or during camp?

AM: After camp.

MN: So what did you think when he told you what he was doing in camp?

AM: I thought, my gosh. Was sure taking a lot of chances, I thought. But he was doing it for, with a purpose in mind, so, like he told me, he said he didn't want a thing like this to ever happen again, so he's doing it. And so when the studio was opened he had to get a Caucasian guy to take pictures, but the thing about it is, like I, one time after taking a picture of about two hundred people, this fellow was going, near the closing time, so he took the lens off because he was taking the lens home with him every night so my father can't use it. Well, he took the lens off the camera when the film was still in there, ruined the picture, so my father got so mad at him because film's so hard to get and he did a thing like that, so this guy, after three, four months, he quit. So after he quit my father went to the camp director, told him what happened, so the camp director thought and thought. He was pretty good friends with my father by then, so camp director told him, "I tell you what. I'll get a Caucasian housewife, the husband works at Manzanar, but the wife at, in middle of the desert they have nothing to do all day, so I'll get one of those ladies to be in the studio, and while she's there you can take the picture yourself." I thought, oh, my father thought that's great, that if he could take the picture himself, there's nothing like it. So she would be there, so my father was taking the pictures, and then at the end of the day this lady would take the lens with her so he won't have any lens to take pictures with. Well, each, these ladies, after they worked for a while they would get so bored all day, they'd do nothing but just stay at studio, so one after another they'd quit. So each time they quit my father went to the camp director to find a replacement. After about five, six ladies the camp director said, "You know what, Toyo, I can't see anything goin' down the left side of me," so my father caught on right away, so from then on he was doing all the photographing himself. And as it turned out, this camp director was a good, very good friend of Ansel Adams and also good friend with Edward Weston, so they had a common friend, so that's one of the reasons why the camp director was very, becoming very lenient with my father.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

MN: Now, when did you start helping your father at Manzanar?

AM: When I was going to school I was helping him part time after school.

MN: And so the, are we talking about, let's see, when did your father get the approval to open a studio?

AM: Oh, let's see, I must've been in my junior year or something in high school. And then --

MN: So would that be 1944?

AM: Probably, yeah.

MN: Is when your father opened a, officially opened a studio.

AM: No, no. Forty... yeah, '44. And then right about that time the high school teacher decided maybe we should try to, the class should try to make a school annual because my father was there to take pictures. So this teacher decided to put out a high school annual, so the kids were very pleased with that idea, to have a high school annual, so the class of '44 had a high school annual.

MN: Thanks to your father.

AM: Yeah. And I was a graduate of the class of '44, too.

MN: Now, how long did your father use this camera that was made in camp?

AM: Okay, he used this camera at the very beginning, before the studio was open, and after the studio was open he couldn't use this picture for taking family pictures and things, so he told the photographer, the Caucasian guy, to go to Los Angeles and go to this dealer where my father used to buy things and buy all the necessary things that you have to get for the portrait studio, so he did. Well, it was just enough to get by. It wasn't the very, well, my father wasn't that satisfied with the equipment, but what else could he do, so that's, he was using that until one day this fellow was helping my father take a big group picture of the people of the one whole block, which meant about two hundred people. And he, my father set up the camera, had this fellow click the shutter and took the picture. And then after the picture was taken, he was in a hurry to hurry up and go home, so he took the lens off the camera before the film was taken out, so he ruined the picture. And my father got real mad at him and really chewed him out, so after that this fellow quit, so my father went to the camp director and told him the situation. And the camp director thought and thought, says, "I need to find another photographer to take picture," for my father, "it's gonna be hard." So he thought and thought and told my father, "Tell you what. Only thing I could think of is to have a, one of the housewife of the Caucasian worker sit at the studio, and as long as she's there you can take the picture yourself." And my father thought that was great. So at the end of the day this lady would take the lens home with her so my father won't have any access to a camera, so with that understanding my father says sure. He was very happy with it. Well these ladies, they'd just sit eight hours a day at the studio doing nothing, so after a few, few weeks or a month they would get tired and just say they want to quit. So each time they quit my father had to go to the camp director to find another lady. And it worked out for a while, maybe five or six times. After that the camp director told my father, "You know, it's hard to find somebody to do that kind of thing, so Toyo," he says, "I can't see anything going on the left side of me." So from then on everything that happened at the studio was left side of the camp director, so it was okay for him to take the picture. So...

MN: I'm going to go back a little bit. This first Caucasian fellow, when he went to, when your father asked him to get some of the equipment, did your father not have equipment in the garage or in storage that this fellow could go and get?

AM: He did. But he thought it'd be better if he got all the equipment and make it look like he got it and then brought it to the internment camp instead of sneaking in, sneaking in my father's equipment, because it would be illegal to.

MN: No, I mean the, after Ralph Merritt allowed him to get his equipment, or get...

AM: Well, after my father had to get rid of this Caucasian fellow --

MN: And was his name Alan?

AM: -- he kept using some of the stuff that his fellow got for him, but it was so difficult that he decided to, he had all this equipment in storage and stuff, so he went to the evacuee property head person and told him, "You know, I have a lot of equipment in storage, so if I could get that, those things to the camp, into the camp it'd be a great help" for him. So this head guy thought and thought, and he thought of an idea. He says, he told, he wrote to Washington, D.C., the headquarters for the War Relocation Authority, and told them, "Toyo has all this equipment in the storage in Los Angeles and the storage company is about to go bankrupt, so we have to take everything out of there so Toyo won't lose his equipment." So that's how he got all of his equipment to Manzanar. So from then on it was so much easier for my father. He had his own camera and lights and things.

MN: And this is probably 1944?

AM: Yeah.

MN: So he had his equipment, all of his equipment, when you folks had the annual, school annual?

AM: Yes.

MN: And then was it 1944 that you started to help your father part time?

AM: Yes.

MN: What did you do for your father?

AM: Well, all I did was, like, assistant work, like helping him when he was setting up to take pictures. I would help him with equipment. Or such thing as taking some pictures with a small camera, unposed pictures and things. If it's a wedding picture, it's candid pictures where I would take pictures where bride and groom is doing something, not a portrait. So portrait, my father was doing all the portrait work and I would just do that kind of thing where he wouldn't have to do it. And so that's how I got started. And then back in the studio I would help with spotting the picture or trimming the pictures and putting it into folders and thing like that. And then I started to do some film developing and printing and thing like that. In that way I was his assistant.

MN: Was this the first time you helped your father?

AM: Yes.

MN: Sometimes it's, parent-son relationships are kind of hard, but how was your father as a teacher?

AM: Well, he was very good that way. He was very understanding and he didn't treat me like what I, what most Issei people would treat young people, very demanding and things like that, but he would just, just like a regular person. And it was very easy to work for him.

MN: So your father wasn't one of those people that shouted and screamed at you?

AM: No.

MN: Was this the first time you thought about going into photography?

AM: Well, I went into it without even knowing it. That's, let's put it that way, because there was nothing else for me to do during the camp and then I thought, well, maybe as an oldest son maybe I should try to be a help to him so in case of anything I can be there for him. So with that kind of thinking I went into it. And I never went to a photography school or anything, because I was in internment camp, and I learned everything from him, how he was doing it.

MN: What was your mother doing in Manzanar?

AM: She was more like, well, she started to work at the studio a little bit, by helping as a receptionist and things like that, but most of the time she was at, in the apartment doing housework, doing laundry and things like that.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

MN: Okay. Archie, when the so-called "loyalty questionnaire" came out, what were your answers to questions twenty-seven and twenty-eight?

AM: [Laughs] You know, that was very hard for me because I was in Japan and went to school there and, well, the town that I lived in Japan was, lot of military was around and people that, people that rented my grandparents' houses were, some of 'em were soldiers, so when the twenty-seven and twenty-eight question came up I thought, we're at war with Japan and how am I going to point my guns at them, I thought. So I said "no-no."

MN: What was your father's reaction when you told him you answered "no-no"?

AM: Well, he was kind of disappointed in a way because he was very American way of, he was very Americanized and he thought I shouldn't be saying "no-no." And then I thought, well, if I said "no-no" I'll be sent to Tule Lake by myself, so I said, I thought, well, maybe I better say "yes" to one of them, so I changed to, so I won't get separated from my family. Because I know my father wanted to stay in the United States because that, this is where he wanted to do business and he didn't want to go back to Japan anymore, so I changed to, one of the questions to yes. So that's how I was able to stay in United States.

MN: Did you have to undergo any questioning?

AM: I went through quite a few hearings from that point because they asked me why I'd rather say "no-yes" or "yes-no" or whichever, I forgot which it was. So I told 'em, well, I want to stay here because I'd rather live here and be loyal to United States, but I sure don't want to go shoot people or anything like that, so that's why I don't want to do all that, so that's why I said I'll be loyal to United States but I will not shoot people. So that's how I kind of stuck it out.

MN: Now, you answered, originally, "no-no." You changed it, and then, but did you ever think about volunteering for the service?

AM: Well, I thought of that, yes. So when they had this military language thing in Monterey I also thought of maybe I should serve my country that way, because I was kind of bilingual because I learned a lot of my Japanese in Japan. But I just stayed that way, so I didn't go serve, but my brother was drafted into the army. He was sent to Monterey. He was there for a while until he was discharged.

MN: Your brother probably got drafted after the war, is that correct?

AM: Yeah.

MN: He'd be too young in camp.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

MN: I want to ask you a little bit about fishing at Manzanar now. Who did you go fishing with and how did you manage to go fishing from a concentration camp?

AM: [Laughs] Well, my cousin's husband, his name is Mike Nishita, and he was quite a fisherman and he loved trout fishing. He used to do that prior to World War II and he knew the trout fishing was very good in where we were, so he said he was gonna go fishing, so I decided why not go with him, because he could teach me a lot. So one morning, one day he said, "I'm gonna go fishing this weekend, so if you want to go we're gonna have to start about two or three o'clock in the morning." I said sure, so what we did was we went to dig for worms. Well, first of all, to get all these fishing tackle and things like that we had to order from Sears Roebuck and things and we got it through mail order. And Mike Nishita had some kind of connection, he was able to get his equipment. Anyway, we dug up some worms and got ready to go, and, well, we had to go while it was dark so we could crawl through the barbed wire and go, go out fishing, so we did that about two or three o'clock in the morning and we would hike and hike and go up the stream, and by the time we got to the foot of the mountain it was about five or six in the morning yet, so we fished downstream towards the camp itself and we would really look out for MP in case they see us, so we kept close to the creek in the area where we cannot be seen that much. So we fished and fished and we finally came back to the camp area. By that time we had quite a few trout, so this Mike had so many fish that he stuck it in his pocket and things like that because that was the only way he could carry it. Well, I only had about three or four trout. I wasn't that good. But this Mike was very clever fishing, so by the time we got back to the, near the camp it was still dark, so we were able to sneak back in. And then after we got back to apartment and got the fish out, and boy, my mother cooked the fish and it was so good. It was quite satisfying. And to think that we were able to catch these fish without getting caught was really quite a satisfaction. And then we decided to hike about, quite a few miles from where we were, in the place that we called Alabama Hill, which was pretty far away. We got there and we start to, we fished and we got, caught our fish, but coming back we had to walk in the middle of the hot sun and that was really hard. We would walk for twenty minutes and then sleep for about half an hour, and then walk again. We did that how many times until we got, finally got back to camp. It was, by then it was getting dark. But that was quite an experience, to be able to go that far and not get caught and on top of that fish, the fish that we were trying to get. It was quite a satisfaction.

MN: How often did you do this?

AM: Oh, only about once or twice a year, to go, well once a year, one time we went to Alabama Hill because it was too far, but the other closer places, the creeks were closer to where Manzanar was, so maybe about three, four times a year.

MN: The one that, closer to Manzanar, that would be Bairs Creek?

AM: Bairs Creek or Shepherd Creek or George's Creek.

MN: You know, when you went out to Alabama Hills and you're coming back in the hot sun, didn't the fish go bad?

AM: Yeah, you know, in fact, that time I don't know if I caught any fish, because I know this Mike Nishita did catch couple of, a few fishes, but we didn't catch that much over there because it was too hard to get over there and to be able to fish, too. But it was just the satisfaction that we got that far out of the camp to fish and come back, that was more, more of the pride than catching that many fish.

MN: And what did you do, did you pack a little bento?

AM: Yeah. Gee, what did we eat anyway? [Laughs]

MN: It's okay then. Now I'm gonna ask you about the camp dances. You and your friends played the records at the camp dances.

AM: That's right.

MN: And how did this come about, and what were some of the popular music at Manzanar?

AM: Okay, the reason that we got into this is because my friend was a record collector and he was always buying mail, mailing order for record, from the record company on Broadway, and I happened to like to get these equipment to play the records on, so he and I got together and he furnished all the music and I furnished the speakers and equipment. So we became a partner and we used to get hired by groups of people in camp to play music for their dance. So he, in fact, I had this system in my house, so we used to play this record all the time in my apartment and so when the next door people moved out I moved into their space and I made a little cubbyhole to go from my apartment to the next apartment where I was living. That's where I had all my sound equipment, and so my friends used to come to my apartment to listen to the music 'cause we had so much time and nothing to do, so I used to play the, lot of records, and then this friend of mine that collected records would bring his record and play it. And so that's how I got interested in playing these, buying these equipment for playing records. Now we call that hi-fi system.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

MN: Then you were talking about sometimes you, you'd come home late from these block dances and you'd, maybe around midnight, and you'd see the mess hall smokestacks burning hot?

AM: Oh, yeah. [Laughs]

MN: And you'd see just all men in there. What were they doing in there?

AM: You know, weekends they used to have a lot of dances, so I would go to these dances with, with her [indicates wife off camera] or, before we got married and things, and then after I led her off where she lived I would walk home myself and I'd get to my mess hall where I lived, then I looked at the smokestack and it was red hot. I thought, my gosh, in the middle of the night? How come this smokestack is like this? So I got curious. I went inside the mess hall and I see these men in their kitchen area where the stove was and they were distilling fermented rice and things like that. They were making shochu or, you know, the drinks. And then as it comes out of the distiller they had a little cup there, and then he would take a sip and then he would say, "Oh, tonight's, it's really coming out good," they would say. My gosh, and then when they'd light a match to it, it would go up in flame, too. That's how concentrated the alcohol was. So I found out for first time how they made this thing called shochu. And oh, they were really drinking that stuff, so as a result some men were getting ulcers and things like that and they were really affecting their health, some of the, the way they were drinking. But that's all they wanted 'cause that's all they could get. So I found out how they make those things and I kind of, I kind of don't blame 'em for wanting to make that stuff because it was really good stuff. You got to just be careful how much you drink, though.

MN: Do you remember how they make this stuff?

AM: Well, they got the rice leftovers and they ferment that thing and then they put it through the distiller, and then they had it on the stove and, boy, they have to have that thing going pretty strong. That's why the smokestack turned red, because it was red hot. And, well, they were making that stuff and, well, I can't, I can't blame 'em for wanting to drink that stuff because, you know, you're put into internment camp and you were restricted so much from doing things. Of course, some men got out of hand, so they were, affected their health quite a bit.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

MN: Now, you're from Los Angeles --

AM: Huh?

MN: You're from Los Angeles.

AM: Yes.

MN: And at that time I understand the zoot suit was pretty popular, so in camp were you one of those guys that wore the zoot suit and had the pachuko haircut?

AM: Well, I would've wanted to, but I couldn't do it because we were, well, for one thing, some of those trousers I would have had taken in a little bit, but not that much, little bit, kind of casual type of zoot suit. But it was pretty fashionable. Some were pretty extreme, but yeah, well, there was nothing else to do, so we had to do something.

MN: Did you have the duck tail?

AM: Well... no, I couldn't grow my hair that much, but it was, well, I think what, this pomade that people used to buy, it was for that purpose. It was very thick pomade. I had some of that. I did little bit, but not that much.

MN: Now, for your high school prom, was that 1945?

AM: I graduated 1944.

MN: '44, I'm sorry. Who did you take to your high school prom?

AM: Well, we couldn't go anywhere but just to go to the prom that there was at the auditorium, and then after that, well, we spent all the time, most of the time just doing the dancing and thing. And then we would walk home and that was about it. We couldn't do anything too much.

MN: But who, who's we?

AM: I have to take her [points to wife] for my prom, my wife.

MN: Who's your wife now, Takeko.

AM: Yeah.

MN: So you were, were you two dating, as you can date in camp?

AM: Yeah.

MN: How did you meet her? Was it in class?

AM: No. I just happened to see her in school, so I found out where she lived, so I went to her house and introduced myself and started dating. [Laughs] It was, there was no places where we could go to meet or anything, so the only way was to go directly to where she lived. And then I was able to speak Japanese, so I spoke to her parents in Japanese because they, they couldn't speak English that well and so that's how I kind of worked it in. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 26>

MN: Today is September 1, 2010. We have in the room Takeko Mayeda Miyatake and Archie Atsufumi Miyatake, and Dana Hoshide is on the video and I will be interviewing, my name is Martha Nakagawa, and we are at the Centenary United Methodist Church. Okay Archie, off camera yesterday you mentioned something which I found really interesting and I wanted for you to share about. Right after Pearl Harbor, when the government had curfews and travel restrictions and then the Isseis had to get photo IDs, now how was your father involved in that?

AM: Yes, well, we were limited to five mile radius from where we lived, so that's with all the Japanese, so when this government required everybody to make an ID photograph instead of those people going, well, there were some, like people way out in Oxnard, but they didn't know where to go. So my father got a special permission to go over there and we spent one, two, about two days up there and we did all the photographing of the Issei people individually so they don't have to come all the way into Los Angeles to have their photograph taken. So that kind of saved a lot of time for the people in Oxnard, so my father, with that intention, he got special permission to go, go to Oxnard. And so at that time my father had a little panel, a van type of car where he, he made a darkroom in the, in this car so he could develop the film right there, so I went to help him on that.

MN: Where did he have to get the permission from? Did he go to the FBI, or where is this permission handed out?

AM: I really don't know where, how he got the permission, but anyway, he got the permission from the government, I'm sure it was, and he went up there, he told 'em the reason why he would like to get the permission, so it saved a lot of people from individually trying to get a permission to travel far, far to get pictures taken. And then they required certain head size and things like that, so it was pretty hard to go to lot of different places, studios to have pictures taken because they all have to learn the size and had to be certain head size on the photograph itself, so with that thing considered my father thought that it'd be best if one studio tried to do most of the work in this place, Oxnard. And, of course, there weren't that many people. Well, there were quite a few, but compared to Los Angeles it was a lot smaller population of the people.

MN: Did he do people from Los Angeles or people in West L.A. or Gardena?

AM: Yes.

MN: But there were other photographers who also did those people.

AM: Yes.

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

<Begin Segment 27>

MN: And then I wanted to ask you, now, I'm gonna skip to camp now and I wanted to ask you about this Manzanar Cooperative, and why did your father have to shoot under the Manzanar Cooperative?

AM: Anything to do with business, it was better to be under the Manzanar Cooperative Enterprise because they got the permission to and the regulation as to how business should be done in a place like that, so in order to have that control of that, that's why they set up this Manzanar Cooperative Enterprise, so there'll be no way for any individual to commercialize on taking, doing business in the camp itself. Because everybody's income was very limited, so therefore this Manzanar Cooperative Enterprise had a system where when people get receipt from whatever they bought they were told to keep the receipts so they could turn in all the receipts and then, depending on the profits and margin of profits and things, you get a rebate from the receipt that you have. So that's why my father was given okay to do business under the Manzanar Cooperative Enterprise, so whenever the profit is, depending on how big the profit was from the business, the people were, had the receipts from the purchase. They would get a refund according to the profit.

MN: So your father was one business under the cooperative.

AM: Yes.

MN: And so did other businesses, like the canteen, was that under the cooperative?

AM: Yes, canteen and dry goods store. I can't think of it right now, but there were a few others.

MN: So when your father shot pictures, did he always put on the photo "Manzanar Cooperative" on it?

AM: Not really. He didn't have to go that far. But, of course, it was, he used his name, Toyo Miyatake, and then he would stamp the name Toyo Miyatake on the corner of the picture. He called it embossing.

MN: 'Cause I saw that photo yesterday that you brought, the long photo with the cooperative name on it.

AM: Oh, yeah. That's right, yeah. It did have that.

MN: But that was not always put onto the photo.

AM: Well, if it's a group picture or a big picture like that, or a group picture, we would put that on there. Not on the individual portraits and things. Some of it we did.

MN: Now, I'm gonna pick up where we left off yesterday, right towards the end of the war, and now your wife-to-be, Takeko, left camp before you did. And how did you two keep in touch?

AM: Let's see, she used to write letters back and I would write a letter to her, too. That was about the only way we could keep in contact, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 28>

MN: Now, when were you released from Manzanar?

AM: Well, we were, I was there until about five months before the camp closed. I came to Los Angeles before my family did and I started to work for a photo studio in Los Angeles. So one of the reasons why was because we, the house which my father owned, he had to rent it out to somebody, so the family couldn't come out until, well, even after the camp closed and my family came out, the house was still occupied, so we converted one of the garage into a living quarter and that's where the family was living until the people moved out of the house.

MN: So when you went out by yourself, earlier than your family, where were you living?

AM: I went to live at my friend's home and things like that, which was fairly close to where I, where my home was. So that was a big help because these friends had, they had pretty big houses and so I used to live with them.

MN: Do you have an idea, was it the summer of '45 that you came out, or...

AM: Yeah, it was about summer of '45. Springtime of '45.

MN: Springtime of '45, okay. And then you said you were staying with your friends' house. Was one of them Taro Kawa's house?

AM: Yeah, that was one of them.

MN: I know Taro had a lot of people stay at his house, and he said they used to have to eat in shifts. Do you remember that?

AM: [Laughs] Yeah. Yeah, they were such nice people and they were very generous, too, so, well actually, my parents knew Taro's parents from way back and they were old friends. And they lived fairly close to where my father had his home, so when we asked them if there's any place where I could stay that was one of the houses. And there were a few other people staying there when I was there, but they had such a big house that you wouldn't run into other people that much. So they, the Kawa family came back quite early, I guess. They were in a different camp, but...

MN: 'Cause the Kawas operated the Enbun and I believe Enbun Market was maybe the second business to open in Little Tokyo.

AM: Yeah.

MN: And they, he told me that when they came back they actually went back to Manzanar on a truck and helped people from Manzanar move out. Did you out in any of that?

AM: No, I did not take part in that. The way we moved out was one of the friends that lived in the same block had a truck, so he says, "Somehow if I can get back to Torrance I can go after my truck. I have a farm there and people that's running the farm." He said there's a truck that he could take out, so, in fact, the way we got this one car was kind of odd because this man that lived in Independence used to come and sell eggs to my mother every two weeks and then the last trip that he made he told my father, "Well, I guess this is the last trip because you won't be here anymore, and I guess I won't need this car anymore, so I'm gonna get rid of it." And my father said, "You are?" Says, "What about if, would you sell it to me?" He says, "You want to buy it?" It was a 1929 Model A Ford. And my father said, "Yeah," says, "I'll buy it." And then I think he said, "It would cost you two hundred dollars." My father said, "Sure, I'll buy it," so he bought it. And a little after he bought it this one author that lives in Eastern Coast was putting together a book. It was called Beauty Behind Barbed Wire and it consisted of story about what the Japanese people did during the war time while they were interned and what they did, and one of the things that he wanted to write about was artwork, so he called the book Beauty Behind Barbed Wire. So he needs some pictures for that and he said, not only of Manzanar, but Poston and Gila, so there was a contract for that type of work. It came through the camp director, and so the camp director knew my father was a photographer, so he told my father, "Toyo, do you know there's a job like this, so would you be interested?" And my father, it was right after he got that old car, so he says, "Sure." So he took that job. And then I thought, when he told me he's gonna do this job in Poston and, Poston and Gila, Arizona, said, "How you gonna get there?" He said, "On this car," that old car, barely could run. So I was kind of concerned because it's bound to break down someplace, I thought. So he got this fellow that was a wife of my cousin, my cousin was his wife, and so he found out, my father found that he used to, he knows quite a bit about Model A Ford, so I thought, he thought that maybe it would be nice to take him along as one of the drivers. So he asked him if was he willing to go. Well, so I thought, well, I asked him, "Do you need any help?" He says, "Yeah, you come along, too," he told me, so I went with him and I thought, oh my gosh, this old car. This fellow that my father had helped, my cousin's husband, he told me that, "You know, this car is so old and the bearing's all worn out, you can't go any faster than thirty-five miles an hour." I thought, oh my gosh, how you gonna go all that distance just at that speed? But my father insisted that he could do it. So he came along and it was a good thing he did because right in the middle of the desert engine stopped, and sure enough it was overheated, so he got bunch of gallon bottles and filled it up with water and put it, poured it into the engine and cooled it off and started up again. So from then on we had that, five one-gallon bottles in the back of the car and we would try to stop at every gas station to not just get gas but the water too, because it, he would always have to stop and fill, empty up one of the gallon bottles and put it into the radiator. Well, we actually made it going and coming back, just by using those waters as, not only gasoline, but water too. But we made the trip. Only time we went sixty miles an hour was where there was a long incline where we could coast down the hill, so that was about the only time that the car had a little speed in it. But my father was able to get the work done.

MN: Now, this is 1945, towards the end of the, when people were leaving camp, right?

AM: That's right. Just, about early part of '45.

MN: So what was your impression of going into this different Poston and Gila camp, as, how was it different from Manzanar?

AM: Well, the structure's about the same. The only thing is the weather. It was a lot hotter in Arizona, Poston and Gila, than Manzanar, although Manzanar was pretty hot, too. But it was, they're both, other camps were, Poston and Gila was in the middle of a dry area in the desert, so of course the heat in Poston was terrible. Much hotter than Manzanar. And so, well, I sort of got used to the heat by living in Manzanar, but it was still pretty hot in Poston especially.

MN: Did you meet any of your Boyle Heights friends at these camps?

AM: Yeah, there, there're not as many as I thought I would be able to see, but there were a very few. And, well, it was towards the end of the war, so I guess a lot of the young people must've relocated, going back East and things, so they were not there.

MN: And now, the Arizona camps were a lot bigger than Manzanar. Poston had I, II and III and Gila had Butte and Canal. Did your father take pictures of all, all of those?

AM: No, Poston, just I and II, I think we went, and Gila, it was only one camp that we went to, Gila. I don't know which one it was.

MN: And what sort of photos did your father take at these camps? Did they have people in it or was it mostly scenery shots?

AM: No, it was these artwork that people did, whoever still had it there because it was towards the end, 1945, so I'm sure there must've been more, but then a lot of 'em had moved out. So whatever there was left my father was able to photograph.

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

<Begin Segment 29>

MN: And then you came back with your father and your cousin's husband, and you came back into Manzanar?

AM: Yeah.

MN: And this was early 1945, so you had not left Manzanar yet.

AM: No. So from then on we started getting ready to go back to Los Angeles, so before we came back we made four or five trips into Los Angeles on that old car, in preparations to go back. So each time we would bring something back so we could just leave it in our garage, so that kind of helped a lot because if we didn't, if we tried to take it all back at one time it would require a great big truck or something, so whenever we could -- and then one of the trips, like my friend that was living in the same block, he wanted to go after his truck, so we brought him back and took him to Long Beach someplace, and then he picked up his truck and drove that truck back into Manzanar. And then he brought two truckloads on his car for us, too. He made quite a few trips himself, and so that really helped my father a lot because, the reason for all that truckload of things is because when my father started the studio in Manzanar he started out by using just equipment that this Caucasian photographer could purchase during that time, so there weren't that many things that were that good. So one other time my, after this Caucasian fellow left the studio, after he made a big mistake of taking the lens, lens off the camera to go home, he ruined the picture, he got -- well, my father more or less had to fire him because he made such a bad mistake when there's such a film shortage. So he left the camp and so that left my father with all the stuff that he bought, so my father wasn't too happy with it, so he went to the Evacuee Property head and told him my father had put a lot of his equipment in the storage, "So somehow if you could get it." So this Evacuee Property head man told, got the idea and wrote back to Washington, D.C., the headquarters for the WRA, telling them that the storage company is about to go bankrupt so you got to get all of my father's equipment out of storage and have it brought to Manzanar, so that's how my father was able to get all of his original equipment. So big truckload of equipment came, so when it was time for us to go back to Los Angeles we had to take all those things back, and plus all the things that we had for the, in the barrack. So it took about three, four trips on this truck that this friend of mine picked up at his farm to bring back, and because I took him down there to get the truck he says, "Sure, I'll help you because I was able to get my truck because you took me down." We must've made about two, three trips with that truck, take all the photographic equipment and the things that my mother had in the house. So all that thing, we packed it all into the, one of the four car garage and we had to convert one of the four car garage into living quarter and one for storage, so the family was living in the garage for a time until the people who occupied the house was able to move out.

MN: Did you spend the Christmas in the garage?

AM: Yeah, we could've. Yeah, one Christmas.

MN: 1945 Christmas, 'cause your, the student was still in your house, right?

AM: Yeah. Course, we didn't have much of a Christmas because of that, but, well my brothers were young and my, by that time my young sister and my brother, youngest brother, they were only about, still going to grammar school, I guess. So we sort of had a little Christmas party for them. But a little after the new year we were able to move back into the house, so that wasn't too bad.

MN: But living in this garage, was it just like living at Manzanar?

AM: Yeah, in fact, it was more crowded because it was such a small place. I was living at, of course, I wasn't living in the house myself because I was staying with my friend, which was close by to where my folks were living. So there were about, my two brothers and sister, my mother and father living in this small place, and I was the only one that was not living there, so it must've been pretty hard for them, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 30>

MN: Now, I'm gonna go back a few months, when you came out by yourself, and you think you came out probably in the spring of 1945?

AM: Yeah.

MN: And then you had a job already lined up with your father's friend's photographer, is that correct?

AM: No, it was not my father's friend, but he happened to have a studio. Let's see, where was that? In the Compton area or some place, so I used to go over there, work over there doing retouching, which I learned while I was still in camp. So I was working there and that was a big help because I was able to do some, have a little income. And then when my father came back he decided maybe he should try to start a studio, so I helped, I helped my father get the studio started.

MN: Now, this first job you had after camp, was this with a hakujin photographer?

AM: Yes.

MN: And when you came back and visited Little Tokyo after you got out of camp, was Little Tokyo still called Little Tokyo, and what did it look like?

AM: It was all, Little Tokyo was not Little Tokyo anymore. It was called Bronzeville, and the reason for that is because lot of the people who lived in Bronzeville, Texas, and they were all mostly, they were all black people, so I was pretty shocked to see so many black people living in Little Tokyo. The reason for that is because there was a, quite a bit of housing shortage right after the war broke out, and then there were a lot of defense work coming up and so they were short on employees, so they recruited a lot of workers and then there were a lot of people in Bronzeville that needed jobs, so when they came to Southern California they looked for a place to live and then Little Tokyo they found was all vacant because all the Japanese moved out. So lot of the people from Bronzeville, Texas, moved into Little Tokyo and so it was called Bronzeville. And then when we came back, when I was there, after my father started the business, or just before he started the business, I was looking for a restroom and I knew where there was one because there used to be one latrine where -- back of First Street there was an area behind this building where there was a latrine -- so I ran over there and there was two houses. One is the house where I was born and there was another house, which is about thirty feet away, and there were only two houses there, so I knew there was houses there, so I thought, well, maybe if I go over there I could borrow their toilet. So I ran over there and I found the two houses were both gone, and in its place was swings and slides and things like that, and I looked around and there was a sign that said "Bronzeville Playground." The whole place was cleared out to become a Bronzeville playground. So I thought, oh my gosh, I thought I could see the house where I was born, but I was sure disappointed that it was all gone. That was a big shock to me because the way it changed so much.

MN: Now, when you were in Manzanar did you know that African Americans were living in Little Tokyo?

AM: No, I, nobody knew that, until we all came back and couldn't find any place to live, so naturally the first thing we did was go to Little Tokyo, or what used to be Little Tokyo, and found out that it was entirely different. And then as, as the war ended, slowly some of these people lost their jobs, so they were moving away, and so as they moved out, Japanese moved in, and so it was, I don't know how many years it took for the Japanese to become what it is now, Little Tokyo to what is now, but anyway, it took a while.

MN: Now, when the Japanese Americans were coming back from camp, was there tension between Japanese Americans and African Americans? Did African Americans feel like they were being pushed out?

AM: No. I didn't feel that at all, or I didn't notice it like that because I think these African Americans, they, they were losing jobs and they were looking for jobs elsewhere because they couldn't find any job around Little Tokyo, so they slowly started to move out. And as they moved out the Japanese people were able to move back in. Let's see, you know the corner of First and San Pedro I remember used to be a nightclub-like thing. I'm trying to think of the name.

MN: Cobra Club?

AM: Club Cobra, yeah. And that used to be a real active place, especially at night. But that place closed down because of lack of business because as the people moved out and slowly the Japanese people started to move back in.

MN: And you went into the Club Cobra a couple times to listen to bands, is that correct?

AM: Yes. There was a well known band, so I went in there. I forgot the name of the band, but anyway, I couldn't believe it when I heard it because I, only thing I, only way I heard their music was on the records. And then when I heard that this group was gonna be there I went in there to listen to them and, my gosh, it was really great.

MN: Could it be the Cement Mixers?

AM: No, it, they were one of the popular people, too, but I'm trying to think of the name. It wasn't the Cement Mixers, no.

MN: Can you describe what did the club, Club Cobra look like inside?

AM: Gee, it's something that I never expected to look like because I knew what the place was like before the war. It was a, I think it was just a drug store or something, and then they turned it into a nightclub, so it was hard to, for me to believe that it was a nightclub until I went inside to see what it was like. And I was just amazed at, when I, the change that they made in there. It didn't look anything like what it was before. It really looked like a nightclub.

MN: They had little tables, a stage?

AM: Yeah.

MN: Was the stage in the middle of the room or was it on one end of the, of the wall?

AM: No, it was on the one end of the wall, yeah. As you enter from First Street side it would be, you would be looking south and you could see the stage.

MN: Now, the audience, was it mostly African Americans or were there Japanese...

AM: Mostly African American, yeah.

MN: So when you went with your friends to go into this club were you folks the only Japanese Americans?

AM: Yeah, it could be. Yeah. There weren't too many Japanese going in there.

MN: How many times did you go into the Cobra Club?

AM: Only about once or twice, that's all.

MN: And was this the first time you heard a live band?

AM: Well, it wasn't the first time, but it was quite surprising to see what you hear on the record be playing up there in person. So it was really quite an excitement, yeah.

MN: Now, the Cobra Club also had the, a parking lot in the back and you used to see groups of African Americans playing dice out there.

AM: Well... yeah, well, when my father opened the studio it was about three doors east of the Cobra Club, and then there was a big parking area in the back of the studio, and then one day I went to the back and then I saw bunch of guys all crowded around into a circle and somebody right in the middle was rolling the dice and then I guess they were betting money on the dice. And what happened was somebody did something to get one person mad, so right away there was a big argument and fight. And my gosh, this guy actually brought out a knife and was about to stab him, and somebody stopped him and then, well, incident like that was sort of common in those days, so when I saw that happening right back of the studio I thought, oh my gosh, it's pretty bad, I was thinking. So I started being very careful from then on, especially at nighttime. Well, there were, you know, all kind of activities at nighttime, things going on, so you got to, you had to be pretty careful in Little Tokyo those days.

MN: Prostitution?

AM: Yeah.

MN: You saw the women walking around?

AM: Yeah. In fact, there was a little house few doors down in the back of the building facing First Street, behind it was a big parking area and there were two, three houses back there and it was a house of prostitution. So you could see some of these people walking and these girls that were dressed real skimpy and trying to attract men, that type of thing going on. So I thought, oh my God, what a wild place this is. So slowly those things started to disappear because the LAPD started clamping down because of, I guess the Japanese people must've been reporting these things going on, so as time went on those things became less and less. But for a while, right after we came back, the whole place was pretty wild, though. [Laughs]

MN: I've heard stories also where people used to just dump their trash out the window and so some of the returning Japanese Americans got into a habit of not walking next to the buildings. Is that something you remember?

AM: No, I don't recall anything like that, but that could've happened, sure. Yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 31>

MN: Now, after you got out of camp you also got a draft notice. Why didn't you go into the service? What happened?

AM: Well, let's see, I did get a draft notice. In fact, I went to take a physical and I passed it and was about to get inducted, but then I decided maybe if I could do, do some interpreting, because I was, I went to school in Japan, so I knew some Japanese, I thought maybe instead of going into, the war was not quite over yet, so my concern was, you know, I didn't want to go into the army doing regular infantry type of thing, so if I, lot of the Japanese were going into interpreting, so I tried, I tried to go into that. But then, after the war ended, there was a thing called, they called a draft holiday, so they weren't taking anybody, so I didn't pursue that anymore.

MN: And then so you helped your father reestablish his studio?

AM: Yes.

MN: Do you remember what year your father opened the studio?

AM: Must have been about 1947.

MN: And then where did he open his studio?

AM: The address was 364 East First Street. This was a location where this family named Kaminski who owned the property, they used to have a business in Little Tokyo prior to World War II. They used to sell cigarettes and things like that. It was like a discount house. But they quit the business and so that place was vacant, so my father decided, well, it's, Kaminski's old owner, so he will, he knew them sort of, I guess, from prior to World War II, so he negotiated there and he was able to rent it.

MN: Did you say 364 or was it 318 East First Street?

AM: Oh, 318, I'm sorry. Yeah, 364 was towards Central Avenue. That's where my father had the business when the war broke out.

MN: Now, when your father reopened the business, did he have African American clients?

AM: No. They were mostly Japanese people, but some of the Caucasian people started coming, because they knew my father and so he was getting some of those people, and also people from Hollywood started to come again.

MN: When you moved back, did you see a separate studio for African Americans in Little Tokyo, or Bronzeville, as they called it?

AM: I don't, I can't recall seeing any studio operated by the black people.

MN: And the, by this time your family had moved back into the, the Boyle Heights home?

AM: Like I told you before, for a while we were living in the garage until the students from White Memorial Hospital graduated or they went, went beyond, so we waited for those people to move out and then the family moved in, back into the house. And then still there were a lot of Japanese Americans who had a hard time finding a place to live, so my father used to have the friends come over and stay there. At one time in that three bedroom house there must've been about thirty people living in there. It was, we had to eat in shifts and thing like that. So they knew what a shortage of house there was, so my father and mother opened up the house for a lot of their friends to move in, so there were a few housewives, so they all pitched in and helped make the food and everything, so it was quite busy there for a while until they slowly started to be able to find a place of their own.

MN: Now, I know before the war your father, your parents left the house as is with all the furniture and everything. When you moved back into that house, what was the condition of the house?

AM: It was in very good condition. They took very good care of it and most everything was still there. So they were pretty lucky that way, where they didn't have to struggle like some other people did. They were very thankful for that.


AM: When the Maeda family moved back from Manzanar they moved to Azusa, that's where my wife's aunt had a property and a business there, so they moved over there and they lived in their house for a while. And then my father-in-law got a job with orange people, which was in Glendora, little further away from Azusa, so the whole family moved over there. So when I, whenever I wanted to go see her I had to go way out to Glendora and the only way I could go was go on the Pacific Electric, the red car those days. I'd go to the very end and from there I had to walk about four, five miles to the place where she used to live, so every time I'd go see her I would have to do that. And one of the times I was walking along the highway and this one Caucasian lady stopped her car and says, "Gee, you have a long ways to go, I'm sure, so if you want a ride I could give you a ride," so I hopped in her car. And then she, as she was driving she said, "Do you know this girl named Sally Rand?" I said yeah. I used to see this name in the newspaper ad. She was one of the girls dancing in the Follies on Main Street. She says, "I'm her mother." Oh my gosh. [Laughs] I was so shocked when she told me that. But Sally Rand was very popular those days, well-known dancer that was on Main Street place called Follies, and so I told that to my wife when I got there and she was so shocked to hear me say that. And I knew about this dancer named Sally Rand because she was so well-known. She was known for being a nude dancer and things like that. [Laughs]

MN: You never went to see her, did you?

AM: No, I never did, but I was only, I was always aware of that name because, and then when she said, "I'm Sally Rand's mother," it just shocked me.

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

<Begin Segment 32>

MN: How long were you dating Takeko before you married?

AM: Let's see, I got married in 1949, so I've known her since 1945, I guess. For four years.

MN: When you met her in camp, did you already have in your mind that maybe this is the woman you want to get married to?

AM: Well, I can't say it never crossed my mind because I liked her from the very beginning, and so the only way to make sure is to go around for a while and it lasted four or five years until I got married. And then, because of camp closing and thing like that, things got long like that, I'm sure, but anyway, like she tells me every now and then, when I first went to her house in Manzanar, because I was in Japan I was able to speak Japanese, so I used to talk to the father first in Japanese because he didn't speak English too well, so I guess that was my way of kind of working around a little bit and try to speak to them in Japanese, and they were pretty surprised for me, for me to be speaking Japanese, and then later on they found out why it was that way. But anyway, oh, they were nice, she had nice father and mother and so, he was very strict, too. [Laughs] Well, when it, when the time came for marrying her they gave me the okay and everything.

MN: You said you married in '49. Where did you get married and who shot your wedding?

AM: Let's see, I got married at Nishi Hongwanji because Nishi Hongwanji was one of the first Buddhist temples that was started after the World War II and we used to do a lot of work for them. And in fact, well, the studio was located fairly close to the church, too, because we were on First Street, the south side of First Street, but the church was on the north side of First Street, now, which is across the street from the National Museum now, it's now the property of the National Museum because the church moved further east. So anyway, I got married there and had the reception where the Parker Center was. There used to be a Chinese restaurant, or it was owned by Japanese people, but it was known for being a Chinese type of food, so we had the reception there. And then I guess I didn't provide enough space for the people, so there was so many guests that didn't have any place to sit, so oh, my father got so uptight about it, so they went to ask this Chinese restaurant which was right next to the studio and they were nice enough to say okay, so quite a few people had to go to this restaurant which was right next door to the studio. It was called Lem's Cafe. So during the reception we, naturally, got up and walked around the, among the guests at the Konan, the other restaurant first, and then we went to this one next to the studio because they were there and then, oh, they were kind of surprised to see us, that we took off to, the main reception and go to their place, which was about half block away. But anyway, there was one old family friend that was a doctor named Dr. Furuzawa which, who was a very prominent doctor in Little Tokyo, and they were friends of my parents, so when I went over there this Mrs. Furuzawa came up to me and she's known me ever since I was a little kid, so she was so happy to see me and she, when I went to see the people at Lem's Cafe, this, first thing this lady came up to me and just hugged me. She was so happy to see the little boy that she knew came to see, see her at the reception. And it was quite a reception, I thought.

MN: Who took pictures of your wedding and reception? Was your father working?

AM: He took the portraits, but all the snapshots, one of the workers took the pictures. He, this fellow eventually left the studio after quite a number of years. He moved back to Sacramento. That's where he was from. So he opened up a studio in Sacramento.

MN: So your father was able to hire people in addition to having you work at the studio?

AM: Oh yeah.

MN: How many workers did you have there?

AM: Well, one of the, man that was working for my father from the camp days was this man named Mr. Kimura. They had this dry goods store on First Street and it was called the Kimura Brothers, and his hobby was photography, so when my father started his studio in Manzanar he wanted to work for my father, so he used to do all the printing while he was working for my father in camp. And so when we came out he was still working for my father, and so, let's see, he retired from the studio and then there was a camera store that was on San Pedro Street which was on sale, so he decided to purchase that. And it was called Tanaka Photo Mart at that time, but when he bought it he changed it to Kimura Photo Mart. And then from there he moved to Second Street and they built a new building and everything, and the son has been running it since the, Mr. Kimura, the father, passed away. So he just closed the studio. He retired, but they still own the building. So we were buying all of our supplies from him until he quit the business.

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

<Begin Segment 33>

MN: Now Archie, right after you got out of camp you started to help your father with the studio. Did you ever think about going to college?

AM: Well, I wanted to go, but my father's business was so busy and we had to hire extra helpers to be able to do all the work that he was getting. Oh, we were getting so many weddings. In those days people used to come to the studio to take the portrait and then I would go out to take all the snapshot pictures and group pictures and even the portraits at the church, but most of the people used to came, used to come to the studio to take the portrait, which was real good for us because that way I don't have to take all the equipment out. But then more and more people started to take pictures at the church, so I started doing all that type of thing at the church for the wedding portraits. And nowadays I think, I guess most of the people take, have their wedding portraits taken at the church, so now they, yeah, it's changing quite a bit nowadays, the way people have the wedding pictures taken, because they'd rather have the church background and things like that, so, and it's hard for them to come to the studio and put their, all the gown on at the studio, so the trend is going, having the photographer going to the church instead of the bride and groom coming to the studio. So in that way we were getting limited to how we could take pictures. There were times I used to go to two, three weddings at the church taking the portrait, but it's, as I got older it was getting too hard for me, so, well, my son's started to help, so that kind of helped, but anyway, the trend has changed quite a bit, especially now, it being digital, which makes things much easier. You don't have to carry all those film holders and thing like that. You just take the little, what is that, you call that... I forgot what you call that. It's such...

MN: Memory, memory card?

AM: Memory card, yeah. You could get by with just a memory card.

MN: What do you think about the quality of digital cameras?

AM: Well it's getting much better. It's amazing how you could get by with just such a small camera and little memory card instead of carrying boxes of film holders and things. It's gotten so much easier. And then we used to carry about three, four lenses around all different focal length; now you can get just, get by with just one digital camera which would have all these different focal length lenses on this one lens, you can change the focal length, make it into telephoto, wide angle, whatever. So in that way it's a lot easier.

MN: Now, actually, I wanted to ask you, when your father and you, your family were moving back from Manzanar to L.A. and you were talking about you had to bring all this equipment. What camera equipment, you had lights and maybe camera bodies, what were the equipments that you had to bring back?

AM: Well, during the time that we were in Manzanar, like I told you before, my father wanted all of his equipment, so in order to get the equipment he went to talk to the Evacuee Property people in Manzanar and this man thought of an idea in telling them that my father's equipment's in this storage company and this company is about to go bankrupt so you have to get everything out in order to save my father's equipment, so everything was sent to Manzanar from the storage company.

MN: What was in that storage company? What did the storage company send over?

AM: All the lighting equipment and big studio cameras. There were huge things, so it took quite a bit of space, so when he got all that into Manzanar my father had to move the studio in Manzanar to one of the big kitchens in Manzanar. There were, the kitchen was built out of two barracks stuck together into one big hall, so we had to use, get one of those places to be able to use all the equipment. And the reason for that is because my father was able to start the studio in this small building, which was just a little ironing room. It's a very small barrack, and so he was able to get by with that, but when the, all the equipment came he had to move his studio to one of the empty barracks because as people were leaving Block 14 was becoming vacant, so they didn't need the kitchen anymore. So Block 14 happened to be right next to Block 20 where we lived, so my father had everything moved over there and had a big studio in the kitchen so he was able to use some of his equipment that he got from the storage company.

MN: So it sounds like a lot of the lightings were really big.

AM: Yeah.

MN: And did you have, like, an enlarger or anything like that?

AM: Oh yeah, big enlarger.

MN: Not like, not like what they used to use recently.

AM: No, it's a huge thing and he, my father had a chance to buy one of the biggest enlargers around, which must've weighed about a thousand pounds. And so we still have that in San Gabriel, but nowadays, because we don't have any more film, we use digital, so that enlarger's not much in use anymore. But my father was so proud of having that enlarger because it was a photographer's dream to have one of those enlargers, and so even though my father's gone we still have that enlarger because he was so happy with it.

MN: Wow, that's like a museum piece.

AM: Yeah, it is.

MN: Now, when did you start taking over your father's business?

AM: It was after we, my father reopened his studio in Little Tokyo, after the World War II, around 1970, I guess, and my father had already retired then and he was getting pretty old, so he couldn't, he didn't want to have to work that hard anymore. And things are a lot more, well, took a lot more energy to do the business because before, when he used to take wedding pictures, it was strictly portrait, but then, like I was telling you that people wanted, young people want their snapshot taken during the ceremony and thing, so it took a lot more energy and time. So that was the time when I started taking all those snapshots and things for my father, and then later on I started taking portraits, too, because my father couldn't get around that much anymore. And then we had to take portraits at the church, too, which made it a lot harder for my father, so I started doing that, and eventually, when he was about seventy years old he kind of had to retire because it was getting too hard for him.

MN: Now, you and Take have two sons, Alan and Gary, and they have also gone into photography.

AM: Yes.

MN: When did you have your sons take over the photography business?

AM: It was around... [asks wife] what year was it, Take?

TM: Wasn't that when we went to San Gabriel? '85?

AM: Oh, yeah, 1985 when we, when we moved to San Gabriel, because we were planning to rebuild a building on First Street, which never happened because we kind of settled down in San Gabriel. And then my son took over and my two boys were helping there. Of course, Gary, the older one, he decided to go on his own, so he did.

MN: And he has his own studio in Gardena?

AM: He moved to Gardena, yes.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

MN: Oh, and I wanted to ask you, you had mentioned about working, shooting when the crown prince of Japan came.

AM: Yeah.

MN: When was that?

AM: [To wife] What year was that, Take?

TM: Hard to say. I've lost track.

MN: Was it in the '60s, or '50s?

AM: Yeah, I think it was in the '60s. My father was still active those days, so when he came the consul general asked my father if he could take his portrait, and my father was really shocked. And so the only way to take his portrait was go to the consul general's home. That's where the crown prince was at the time, and he was there for lunch, so while he was there for lunch the consul general told my father, "You could take the portrait before he had his lunch." So I got to, I took, I helped my father take all the equipment over there to the consul general's home and we set up all the lights, and time was very, he was very strict about the time, the consul general, so the consul general came over to tell my father, "You have three minutes to take the picture." When I heard that I said, oh my gosh, how... so we got the chair that the consul general was gonna, I mean, the crown prince was gonna sit on and set the light. So I sat on that chair before the, for my father to be able to set the light so he could place the light wherever he wanted. And then, and then when the crown prince came and sat down there, and I was looking at the crown prince and then his collars were kind of, little bit off and things, so my father was in back of the camera, busy focusing and everything, and then I thought in order to save time I can't be telling my father you got to fix this or that, so I just went ahead and fixed it myself. And I was fixing his collars and hair and things, and then my father saw me on the ground glass and then he couldn't believe what he saw, me doing that to the crown prince, so he took the black cloth off his head and then he told me to, "Come here," told me to go in back of the camera. So he tells me, "You're not supposed to touch the crown prince like that." I said, "I was trying to save you time so you won't, you only have three minutes to take the picture." He says, "Well anyway," he says, "be careful," he told me. So I went back and my father took the picture. But anyway, I was the only, of course, I was in Japan, so I knew how, how respectful people are about the imperial family, I knew that, but I thought, gee, that short time, just to fix his collar, this and that, or the hair, didn't matter that much, but my father was still with the Issei thinking, you're not supposed to touch the imperial family people like that. So I didn't blame him for what he said, but I thought back, I said, well, if you say that, I was about the only person that would touch the crown prince's hair and like that, so I kind of took it as a, well, maybe as a pride maybe. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 35>

MN: Your father had this Thunderbird he really loved.

AM: Yeah.

MN: Can you tell us that story also?

AM: Well, little before he set about getting a car, I happened to know this Taul Watanabe in Gardena and then Bruce Kaji and I was doing some things for him in Gardena, and then they had a friend named Les Eichenberg who had a Ford dealership in Gardena, so I happened to go over there and I was looking around and I saw this Thunderbird that this Eichenberg dealer had. And then I, and it so happened after I saw that car I went back to the studio and my father said, "I want to get a car," so he tells me he wanted to get a sports car. He said, "Maybe Jaguar or something." So I thought, oh my gosh, Jaguar is such an expensive car, I thought, so I told him, "You know, I just saw a Thunderbird in Gardena. Why don't you go look at that? You might like it." So I took him to Gardena to look at the Thunderbird and he liked it so much, the one that he saw, he says, "I want to buy that one," he says. And it was a white Thunderbird. So I told Les Eichenberg and he was so happy to hear that my father wanted the Thunderbird, so, "Sure, I'll give him a good deal on it," so he decided to get that and, boy, was he happy with it. He just drove from then on every day. Just to drive the car he would go to the studio, you know? And he would never let anybody else touch the car. In fact, I was about the only person that, he would let me drive it, so every thousand miles I, from then on I had to take the car all the way to Gardena to get it serviced and, boy, that was quite a ride for me because I would never have any other chance to drive that car. So I used to look forward to getting the thousand mile check up on the car because I was able to drive all the way to Gardena in that car. He was quite happy with that car, so he drove it 'til he couldn't drive anymore.

MN: Is that the car that you drove during the Nisei Week parade when your father got honored?

AM: Yes. So he was picked to be a grand marshal or something like that in the parade, and so he sat on the back of the car, on the backseat, and I drove the car for him through the parade.

MN: So you got to drive that car at that time.

AM: Yeah. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 36>

MN: I know you've been active with the Manzanar National Historic Site also.

AM: Yeah.

MN: You know back in the '70s when there were all these Sanseis trying to get that site preserved, what did you think about it? Were you like a lot of the other Niseis, did you think that that chapter should be forgotten?

AM: No, because I was kind of glad to hear that they were gonna make that into a historic site and that, my father spent so much time there taking those pictures for the Manzanar and he was, he became very good friends with Ralph Merritt, who was the camp director, who happened to know the same people that my father knew. They were Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, and Edward Weston, when he was in Glendale, he was having such a hard time trying to sell his pictures, so my father -- it was just beginning of the Depression era, 1925 -- so my father helped Edward Weston by having the Japanese people sponsor an exhibit for him. And so many people of the Japanese, kind of, interest, bought his photograph, so he was very happy with it. He, Edward Weston even said that people, these, "Some of these people even borrowed money from people to buy my photograph," so he was very happy with it. And then, well, my father was very good friends with Edward Weston because he learned photography from him. Edward Weston was very close friend with my father, too. And then Ansel Adams and Edward Weston were very close friends because they both lived in Monterey, and so when we got married I discussed with my wife where should we go for our honeymoon and I thought, I thought. I thought, oh, what about Yosemite, because Ansel Adams is there. So we decided to go honeymoon to Yosemite, so on the way we stopped in Monterey and met Edward Weston there and I introduced my wife to Edward Weston because we were on our honeymoon and, oh, Edward Weston was such a nice person. He was not that old at that time, so we went to see him. And then we went to Yosemite, and when we got there I saw Ansel Adams. He was conducting a class, so I just kind of walked close to the class where he was teaching -- he was teaching outdoors -- and when he saw me all of a sudden he dropped his thing, what he was doing, he had a class that he was conducting, and he comes over and tells me hello. I said, "Hey, you have a class going on." He says, "Oh, that's okay," he says. So he came and greeted us and then I introduced my wife to him, and oh, we had quite a good time there, but in the meantime his class he left behind and so he went back to them after we left, but that's, that's the kind of man he was. He, he was such a nice man.

MN: Let me go back to Manzanar right now. Are you happy with the direction that the Historic Site is taking at this time?

AM: Yes. Alisa Lynch, who was working hard to try to preserve it, so she used to come and ask me, because my father already had passed away, and so I tried to help her as much as I can, the information I had, so I tried to help her that way. And so she still calls me now and then to ask me certain kind of questions. I forgot what it was, but I would, if I'd remember I'd try to tell her some of the things, how it was.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

MN: I want to touch a little briefly a little more about your brothers and sisters, sister. You mentioned Robert before and that he had gone to art school and then taught at the art school. And then he had a color lab.

AM: Yes.

MN: Can you tell us about that and how he helped your father's studio?

AM: Yes, he had a color lab in the studio first. He, we set up a color lab at the studio in Little Tokyo, but it was getting so busy for him and it was taking more, it would have taken more space, so he decided to go on his own. So he converted his big double garage into a darkroom, eventually added a little building next to the garage and built a color lab in there. And he was doing all of our work for us. He, he was making such beautiful prints, and he knew exactly what, how we wanted printed and things like that because he was with us all the time. So he did that and he, of course, he's retired now, but yeah, he was very good with making his own, own, well, making his equipment and things. Of course, when he had the addition structure built he had a carpenter do it, but then lot of the things inside, the equipments and things, he could build himself, he did it himself, so he would, he made the things just the way he thought was best, so it was really quite a nice color lab.

MN: Was it unusual for, like, your father, someone like your father to be able to do color at that time?

AM: Well, my father started to try to do some color work before all this happened, but he could not do the, lot of the things because technically it was too difficult to do until they started making the equipment, photographic supplies where people could do it themselves, Eastman-Kodak developed things, so when that happened that's when my brother came into the picture and he decided to make his own color lab. And for a while he was doing it at the same studio where we worked together, and we were able to buy equipments that he needed, and then as things got bigger and bigger, more and more, he decided to go on his own because he needed more space, so he started his own color lab.

MN: You know, I've seen some photos in, in camp that your father did in camp and someone had put some color paint, I think, on it?

AM: Yeah.

MN: Who was doing that?

AM: My mother was doing the coloring. What they do is, they call that color tinting of a black and white picture, and what my father did was he would make a black and white print and then have it toned to a brown color, and then my mother would come in with the color and put the color over the tinted photograph, which was kind of, instead of black and white it's kind of brownish color. And that's how most of the color pictures were being done. They used, my father used to do it for portraits and sceneries and things like that. And my mother, in fact, was doing color tinting just on her own before she started helping my father at the studio, so she used to do it at home. And there was a photographer who would take scenery pictures and then have, have somebody color for him, and he would sell it like that. So my father, my mother had a lot of experience in coloring the photographs, so when my father started to do his portraits in color my mother used to help quite a bit in that way. And then when the color film and things like that came out, then my brother started doing all that because he knew so much about color printing.

MN: Now, when your mother was doing the, the painting of it, did your father tell her what color to make a kimono or was that something she chose?

AM: Sometimes, if it's a kimono or something like that, the customer would leave the kimono so my mother could see the color and she would go by that. But most of the time, when it's just the face, my mother had enough experience where she could color the face to the right color, so in that way my mother was quite clever with that.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

MN: Now, your other brother, Richard, also became a photographer.

AM: Yes.

MN: What sort of places did he work at?

AM: He worked for a studio, and then after, after a while he went on his own and worked at another studio where he, he would have Sunday off, because he was quite active at the church that he belonged to, so he wanted to do some work at the church. So that was one of the reasons why he left the studio because he wanted to do some church things, help at the church, not in photography, but other things and church activity on Sunday, so that's why he went on his own. But he passed away quite young, but he, that's what he was doing. And then when we were real busy or something like that I used to help him, have him help at the studio and he would come and help.

MN: And then you said Minnie married Edward Takahashi from, the son of the reverend at Koyasan.

AM: Yes, yes.

MN: And your family actually has a long history with Koyasan.

AM: Yes, because my parents were members of the Koyasan temple. And see, the Koyasan Temple had a temple, a church in Zentsuji, Shukoku Island in Japan, where my father and mother came from, and then when they were living, when they, when they came here there was a Koyasan temple on Central Avenue near where the Japanese American National Museum is. So I used to go to that church every Sunday for Sunday school, and my parents were pretty active there. And then we got to know this reverend, head of the, head minister of the Koyasan temple, who was Edward's father, and so, well, I guess that's how my sister got to know Edward, so they were eventually married.

MN: I wanted to ask you, so your family has this association with Koyasan and yet you married at Nishi Hongwanji. Why not at Koyasan?

AM: Well, when we were in Manzanar this reverend at Manzanar happened to be a Buddhist minister who was connected with the Nishi Hongwanji, and so when we got married he was like our, so like a go-between for us, so we got married at Nishi Hongwanji.

MN: Would that be Reverend Arthur Takemoto?

AM: No, that was Reverend Nagatomi, who's originally from San Francisco. And so we got to know the family very, very much and we were very close to them, so when we got married we asked him if he would be like a, well, we didn't need a baishakunin, but he was more like, he had more like a title of a baishakunin for us, so we got married at Nishi Hongwanji.

MN: Now, your family has a huge trove of negatives and photos from your father, from your era, and of course now your sons. What is your family intending to do with all this?

AM: Well, I have it in, all in my garage because I don't have a car anymore, and the garage is all filled up with all those negatives. And I've been sorting them out and I've been thinking of what to do with it. I thought of the National Museum. Also, there's the cultural center, because there's a person who knew my father quite well and he's an artist himself, and my father used to do a lot of artwork, so my father used to see this fellow all the time. His name is, he was a former minister of Koyasan Temple, his name is Kosaka. And so Reverend Kosaka knows my father quite well, so I've been debating whether it should go to the cultural center or the museum. And it's been, I haven't still decided yet where it should go. So, well, I think it'll be good if it was preserved in Little Tokyo someplace because that's where my father got his name and that's where he's, had his business, so it'd be nice if things could be preserved in Little Tokyo in memory of my father. So I still haven't decided yet where I want it to go, so I don't know if... I can't announce it yet, so... [Laughs]

MN: But you, you do have intentions to donate it? You're not gonna keep it in the family?s

AM: Well, my son said he'll take care of it, my second son who's running the business now, but I have to discuss it with him, see... because we get a lot of calls for, especially the pictures taken at the Manzanar Relocation Center, because people writing books on it, and I've seen book cover made from my father's photograph. So I have to discuss that more with my son about it, what to do. There has to be some place, I'd like to have it left in Little Tokyo someplace, whether it's the museum or the cultural center.

MN: So you, you're not thinking about Manzanar Interpretive Center?

AM: No, I don't think so. Well that's another possibility, too, but only the Manzanar photographs there because there's no point in sending some of these old Little Tokyo pictures to, over there because they wouldn't know what to do with it. There were a lot of old Little Tokyo pictures, too, before it changed the way it is now.

MN: Anything else you want to add, Archie? I've asked my questions.

AM: I can't think of anything, no.

MN: Well, I want to thank you very much for giving us this time.

AM: Oh, well thank you for having all your patience with me.

MN: Oh no, I really enjoyed this, this interview. Thank you very much.

AM: Well, thank you.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.