Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Toshio Moritsugu Interview
Narrator: Toshio Moritsugu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: March 2, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-mtoshio-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Today is Wednesday, March 2, 2011. We're in Honolulu with Toshio Moritsugu and we're at the Ala Moana Hotel. On camera is Dana Hoshide and I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda. So, Toshio, I'm just going to start from the beginning. Why don't you tell me your birthdate. When were you born?

TM: I was born on April 2, 1925, which would mean that in a month's time I'll be eighty-six.

TI: Eighty-six or eighty-seven? You're eighty --

TM: Eighty-five now.

TI: Eighty-five, okay. And then, tell me where you were born.

TM: Well, I was born in a small village called Heeia. You want me to spell it out?

TI: Sure.

TM: H-E-E-I-A. It's a small village, now it's been absorbed by Kaneohe, which everybody is familiar with Kaneohe, it's on the windward side of the island and it's where I was born.

TI: Now when you say you were born there, was there like a medical facility, or was it at a house?

TM: Evidently during those days you had midwives. They came over and then you had your birth.

TI: Okay, good. What was the name given to you at birth?

TM: It was Toshio and I kept that name throughout. Some of them had English names but I kept on with Toshio, so throughout my life, I'm Toshio Moritsugu.

TI: Now was there any reason why that name was given to you? Was there any significance to it?

TM: Apparently, the old folks were quite concerned about the names and they had some expert looking into it and why I was given Toshio I don't recall.

TI: Okay. So next I want to just talk a little bit about your father. Can you tell me his name and where he was born?

TM: Well, my father's name was Yasuichi, Yasuichi Moritsugu. He was born in Japan, Yamaguchi-ken and he came to Hawaii when he was nineteen.

TI: And about what year was that when he came to Hawaii?

TM: It was 1902 as I recall.

TI: In your memoirs you said 1907.

TM: 1907, that would be correct.

TI: And that he was born in 1888, so that make him eighteen, nineteen years old when he came to Hawaii. So tell me when he came to Hawaii, why did he come?

TM: Well, it's a strange long story. Could I go on with the story?

TI: Yes, please, this is why we're doing this. I love these stories.

TM: Oh, okay. Evidently his older brother, Tokuemon, came much earlier and Tokuemon worked for a fishing company and apparently the understanding was that Tokuemon was supposed to let him know, my father know, when was a good time to come to Hawaii. And he never got an answer or letter from Tokuemon so he came on his own and (...) he was nineteen and at the time you had Pali Highway, no you didn't have a highway, actually had the Pali which means that they had wagons that went up and down. He'd walk all the way down the Pali and went to that village, fishing village.

TI: Wait, so he walked all the way from Honolulu all the way --

TM: Yes, and I don't know if it took overnight or much longer. And evidently he got a job as a fisherman working for this person, Kitamura was his name as I recall, the owner. And both of them started working there, and that's how he got his start.

TI: Did he have any stories about what his brother said when he saw him show up on foot?

TM: Beg your pardon?

TI: Did your father ever tell any stories about what his brother said when he saw him?

TM: No, (...) all this story, I got it from my mother before she passed away. So unfortunately I wasn't able to get the information from her. It never got out to the children. None of us knew about all this information.

TI: That's a good story.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: So what kind of fishing did they do?

TM: Well, (...) he did net fishing. And that means you had to get about five people, roughly five people. They go overnight, have a boat that's big enough to hold a net and them. They lay the net around certain parts of the ocean, actually around the shore. And it's an overnight situation and then the fish get trapped in there. They retract the fish, and that's one type of fishing he did.

TI: And so when you say they have boats that go out, how far away from shore are they going?

TM: Apparently, Kaneohe bay is a huge shoreline. It can go for miles, which means that they had to use a motorboat and maybe travel one or two miles, find a spot, and stay overnight there with the net down. And it took some planning and there were favorite spots that they went to and that's one type of net fishing they did. Another was what they call "pull net," which meant that they had a huge net that made a big circle around a particular area and from both ends of the net, they dragged the net in until you come to the (pocket) and fish trapped in there would be retrieved. And that was not time consuming, it took about maybe forty-five minutes to do one netting, which meant that overnight they could have done five or six, which meant that they went to different spots. And that was really (...) the most important fishing for them. And then the third type of fishing was what they called akule fishing, which meant that they had to go into the deep ocean and the net would be about eight feet high. And when the akule school of fish is found around the ocean, they surround the akule, make a big circle, and then because the net is not deep enough, they start pounding from the top to send the akule down, and the akule would get trapped in there and they would pull the net up, which meant that the net was quite long. And when they caught a school of akule, it meant hundreds of pounds, which meant that they had all the neighbors to help, getting the akule released from the nets.

TI: And so neighbors, meaning they'd have to drag the net all the way to shore?

TM: No, no. The neighbors came in after they returned to shore (...). Actually it was a village and you had other fishermen and wives and they were quite friendly, cooperative. So they helped each other out.

TI: Okay, so it was a very cooperative effort so if there was a big catch, everyone came down and helped.

TM: Right, and then for a reward they would get maybe five or six akule. So, you know, it was sort of a friendly set up.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: And so describe a little bit about the village --

TM: Okay, (...) to make it clear, after my father worked for Mr. Kitamura at that particular fishing village, he thought to himself, that he would like to do the fishing by himself so he divorced himself from Mr. Kitamura and found another fishing village and rented the area from Bishop Estate, (an area of about) five acres. So he, in a way, established a new camp, fishing camp. And other fishermen started coming in so that apparently this fishing village called Fish Camp, it was known as Fish Camp quite well, had about ten fishing families and he sort of was in charge. You might say, of the fishing village, which meant that when the fish was caught he made it his responsibility to send the fish, or take the fish over to Honolulu for auctioning.

TI: Now when you talk about these families, the ten families, did they work for your father?

TM: No, no. They were independent fishermen. Apparently, they wanted a secure place and so they joined into the village, the fishing camp.

TI: So the houses there, those were owned by your father?

TM: No, no. They built the independent homes but it was on Bishop Estate leased land. But to manage everything my father handled the whole fishing village. I don't think he charged them for monthly rents but he got commission by taking the fish to downtown.

TI: Okay, so I see, so your father first arranged to get the land through the Bishop and then others who were fishing families could come and become independent, build on the land and then they would help I guess pay for the lease of the land, the rent, so your dad would then collect maybe a little bit of money from everyone and then they would then pay the Bishop family for the land?

TM: Well, that is the part that I don't think my father did charge them for the use of the land or staying there. He got his commission and the commission was, I think, good enough that he could manage to (make a decent living).

TI: Oh, so that was a pretty good deal for the fishing families, they essentially got the land for free and they would do their work and then they would pay a small commission to your father.

TM: Uh-huh, and those fishermen did different types of fishing.

TI: Okay, so they didn't necessarily have to be net fishermen.

TM: No, no. In fact my father and his group, actually there were five. He hired three and his brother joined him so that would make it five. And they were the only net fishermen in that camp. The others did deep sea fishing where they had sampans or individual boats that went out and then did their fishing. There was a family that did fishing by traps, fish traps. They did quite well.

TI: And how would the fish trap work?

TM: Well, they made a fish trap (...) of chicken wire, so that, you know, it was light enough. (It had) a rectangular type housing. And they would go out to the deep sea, deposit the trap (...) for maybe three or four days, and picked it up and the fish would be trapped in there. Somehow the fish could get into the trap but they couldn't get out.

TI: Interesting, it's kind of similar, I'm from Seattle, the Northwest, and there a lot of like crab pots, same way where they have these sort of traps, the crabs can go in but then they can't get out. So they have some sort of bait inside that traps the fish or the crabs.

TM: And I'm quite sure that they didn't use any bait. Apparently, fish was plentiful during those days so somehow they had favorite spots where they put the trap down. Fish would get in, retrieve the trap, and put it in to trap again. So it was an art, I think.

TI: And all these different techniques, were they being used all around that area, so this was something that if you went a few miles the other way there are fishermen doing the same thing?

TM: Oh, yes, that's right. In fact, the deep sea fishermen went out for miles out in the deep and somehow they managed to come back so, in other words, if they ran into any trouble, somehow you have other fishermen coming in to help them.

TI: That's interesting. When your father left the Kitamura camp to do his own camp, what happens? Does that cause ill feelings when people kind of leave and start their own?

TM: I don't think so because you had other fishermen coming in. So a fishing camp can take perhaps only about ten fishing family, which meant that it's always been taken over by other families. I would think like the ten families that my father, you know, not controlled but had responsibility. He could not have taken any more fishing families, ten was about the limit.

TI: Now why is that? Why is there kind of a... is it just because that's the amount of land that was there, or why not have larger fishing villages, especially if you have good access to the water?

TM: Well, it could have expanded more but apparently many of the fishermen (had favorite) spots to go to. In other words, it wasn't sort of restrictive, (but spots) grateful (for the) fishermen to fish around. But normally, during those days, they stayed with a fishing village because of the protection and the help that you could get. So I don't think at that time they had independent fishermen that went from his home to the ocean. It was more convenient being in a fishing village.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: It sounds like the type of business, too, there were times when you needed help, you know, so being in a village with other fishermen probably made sense rather than being on your own. How about your father's brother, did he come along to this camp also?

TM: Yes, my father's brother also moved into the camp. In fact, his home was in the water. It's strange but (there were) three, we had three homes suspended in the water, in the ocean with enough support. So when we were young we could go crabbing from the house, directly into the ocean.

TI: So they were... so part of the house was on land and the other part was on like stilts in the water?

TM: Right, so you know it's a land when you get into the village. You had to go down the hill and as you went down the hill, you had the three homes on level area and the homes were suspended in the ocean. It's hard to imagine but that was it. Our home was further up the hill and so it would overlook all the other homes.

TI: Now were there advantages of having a home that was extended over the water? Why would you do that? Was it just because there was not enough land for more houses? Or I'm trying to understand why.

TM: I have no idea why but it was convenient to be suspended in the ocean. You didn't have to worry about the area soil where you have to take care of weeding and whatnot. It was completely suspended and the water was coming up that you didn't have any flooding problem and you had a huge stone wall which gave a barrier and they were quite comfortable.

TI: Now in the area, were there other homes that were similar like to that? Where they were extended over the water?

TM: No, the other homes were all above the... three homes so that they were all suspended actually on land --

TI: But how about the other fishing camps, you know, if you went --

TM: I have no idea about the other fishing camps, (but) there was another fishing camp that I was familiar with, and the set up was about the same.

TI: Now I know you have a drawing of this. Have you ever seen any photographs of this?

TM: No, that was a situation where cameras were difficult to get hold of and Kodak, I guess, was about the most common one. To get hold of a camera, I would say that when I was about fifteen, that's when perhaps a camera, you know, was being used for photographing.

TI: Yeah, it would've just been great to have taken a boat out there and just take a picture of the village from the ocean. You know, similar to your drawing would have been really, really nice.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So going back to your father, let's talk a little bit about his first marriage 'cause he was married earlier. So tell me about that.

TM: Well, my father was married much earlier, well actually after he came to Hawaii. He married a woman that was a sister of another woman that ran a small grocery store. But his wife was quite frail, she wasn't too strong, and they had two sons. Both sons passed, died, in their (infancy) before three, three years old. And my father knew that his wife did not have long to live and his wife wanted to be buried in Japan. So both of them took a ship and went to Japan. And (before) reaching Japan, his wife passed away, but he was able to have a burial for her and then, now the story is going on. My father, somebody made arrangements for my father to meet my present, actually mother. So he made arrangements in Japan and met her and they got married. This was several months interval. And then both of them returned, actually came to Hawaii, my father returning first and then my mother coming later.

TI: I'm sorry, did they get married in Japan then? They got married first in Japan?

TM: Yes, they got married in Japan.

TI: So let's talk a little about your mother. What was her name?

TM: Her name was Yoshiko Sumida.

TI: And tell me about her family, what did they do in Japan?

TM: Well, they were actually farmers and she also came from Yamaguchi-ken. And that's why my father meeting my mother was quite easy, within the Yamaguchi-ken. And she had only a sixth grade education and, the family being poor, she worked as a maid for various people. She told me that she once worked for a president of a bank and then later on, president of a railroad as I recall. So most of her life while in Japan, she worked as a maid.

TI: So the two of them met in Japan, in terms of age difference, how much older was your father than your mother?

TM: Well, my father, as you know, was born in 1888. My mother was born in 1902.

TI: Okay, so about fourteen years' difference, okay. So your father was about thirty-four, thirty-five and your mother was about twenty, twenty-one at the time of marriage, okay. So now they both come to... or she comes to Hawaii for the first time and this about 1923, '24.

TM: '24, I think.

TI: And earlier you said you were born in 1925 so right away they started having children and they had eight children.

TM: Right.

TI: So let's talk about your brothers and sisters, so you were the firstborn?

TM: I was the firstborn. Actually there were five boys and three girls, a big family of eight and my second brother, Kenji David, passed away. And my (third) brother, Hideo, also passed away. So now we're left with three boys, myself, Sadaji and Roy.

TI: Now when you said Kenji and Hideo passed away, was this when they were young or was this much later?

TM: No, no, much later, after the war. They were independent and working as, you know, full time.

TI: But before the war, there were eight children and two parents living together.

TM: Right.

TI: So Kenji, Hideo, Sadaji and Roy, and you were the five boys, and then the sisters?

TM: My sisters, Terue, Florence and Alice, which made three sisters that I had.

TI: Good. Okay, so there were, in total in the family there are ten of you.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Tell me a little bit about the house and how that worked.

TM: Well, this is quite a long story too. Initially the house was quite small and as the family got larger, it was a need to get a larger home. So my father built a two-story frame house and surprisingly the lumber came all the way from Honolulu, from Halekulani Hotel. The reason was because Halekulani Hotel remodeled their hotel and had excess lumber. So the lumber was bought from Halekulani Hotel and then the frame home was built. And this was, oh, I would say, about 1930 or so, after I was born.

TI: Okay, and so how big was the house? How many rooms did it have?

TM: Well, the house was rather large. It was a two-story house. On the first floor you had a large living room and (...) adjoining it was a large kitchen. And then you had a closet space there too, and a stairway leading to the second story and then we had three bedrooms on the top. So as far as I can say, it was quite huge.

TI: Okay, good, and then in terms of your sleeping arrangement, did you share a room with your brothers or how did that work?

TM: Yes, what happened was that the living room was large enough so, with the tatami goza,you could make it into a huge bedroom. So the beds could be folded and put into the closet, and so initially the whole family slept on the first floor, and during the war more so because of the uncertainty and the fear and whatnot. So the third... three bedrooms on the top, as I recall, were used by all the boys, all the girls slept downstairs.

TI: So was that just during the war or was that all the time?

TM: No, before the war, it started already.

TI: And so the five boys slept in the three rooms upstairs?

TM: Yes.

TI: Okay. And so how did that work? Did you share a room with one of your brothers?

TM: Well, one room was not used. It was sort of a business office for my father so my brother and I, that is David, second oldest, slept in one room and Hideo in another room.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So now I want to talk about some of your childhood memories growing up in the village. You mentioned your house being large and one of the things I read about was how, I think, every other year there was this offering of thanks by the fishermen. And I think every other year that was held at your house?

TM: Yes.

TI: Can you describe that?

TM: Well, as I mentioned to you, there were two fishing villages, and every other year the ceremonies and the party were held in our home, on odd years, in the neighboring fishing village. And in our home when we had that celebration, the whole village participated in it and in fact as I can recall, many of the counties, or actually the village higher people came. I recall, the police captain, you know, came over quite often. And business people came over so it was a big affair. And you had a Buddhist priest coming over, gave his (blessing), and then the party, right throughout the night.

TI: And tell me what was there in terms of food, entertainment, what did people do?

TM: Well, entertainment wasn't much. They had enough drinks for the older people. As for younger people, you had fruits, apples, oranges, grapes and meats, cold cut meats, and sodas. So the food was plentiful. In a way it satisfied, I think, just about everyone.

TI: And so what would the youngsters do? You know, when the adults are down there eating, drinking, talking, what would you, your brothers, your sisters, and probably other children do?

TM: Yes, other children. Well, the area was quite big so you can get out and play games, and if you wanted to play card games, you could play card games, but there were so many games that we played.

TI: Let's talk about that. You talk about games too and you mentioned Ala-wee was one game you played?

TM: Yes.

TI: Knife baseball was another game. Describe, first, Knife Baseball, what was... how did you play?

TM: Well, Knife Baseball meant that you have to get a knife, and the knife must have two blades. So you open the long blade, fully extended, and the smaller blade is open at ninety degree angle. So you have two blades at ninety degree angle, and what you did was that you flip the knife around and made sure that it stood on one of the blades. And the way it ended determined whether it was first base or second base. And when the knife stood on the large blade by itself, that was a home run. Now, when the knife stood on the small blade, that was second base hit. And when (...) both blades were on the surface, that was a first base hit. And when the knife flopped, that was a strikeout. So it was kind of a dangerous thing.

TI: And so you would just kind of flip the knife up in the air and then it would come into some kind of board and how it would stick would determine.

TM: Yes, well, you had a flat board. So when the knife was flipped, if you're good enough, it always flipped, stopped on the blade. And you have three strikeouts, so that you have three, you know, just like in a baseball game. You kept flipping until you struck out.

TI: So this sounds like a game that you would play against one other person. So it would be like one team versus the other team.

TM: Right, just one team against the other team or one person against one person.

TI: And then you would sort of track like if you had like a single or a double, then the next time you got another double and a run would score, if someone were on second base and... I got it, okay, interesting.

TM: So that was a cheap game because at that time all you needed was a knife.

TI: How about any other, like, group games? If there lots of people, what would you do?

TM: Yes, there was a group game we called Ala-wee, and (...) that Durham bag, you filled it up with sod. So you had durham bags, and had two teams across each other. And the object was to toss the Durham bag to hit a person. When the person is hit, he's out. And you kept on doing until only a single person was left. And so the game could have been quite long because you need to have an art in throwing the sod, and try to trick the other people because you had two groups, one on one end, one side, and one on the other side. And it was, you know, a makeshift sort of a game but we enjoyed it.

TI: And were these games, that if you went to another village, they would know the same games?

TM: I would think so. And you had marble games where you had the marbles in a pile and then you shoot what they call the header, and try to get the marble out from a huge circle and you kept doing until the last marble was removed.

TI: And like, you know, when you're growing up as a boy and like on weekends would there be a lot of chores you would have to do or would there be lots of free time to explore, do games and other things like that?

TM: Well, we had a lot of free time and even while going to school, the afternoons were sort of free, and the weekends were free, and as we got older, the boys had baseball teams. (...) And you have people from outside forming teams, and all barefooted.

TI: Interesting. I think about today and how when you see kids, you know, young kids, they don't have as much free time. You know, it's almost like they have classes or more structured events to go to, like music lessons and it sounds like such a wonderful kind of growing up experience.

TM: Yes, because the village was large enough so we had areas where you can constantly play games and then you didn't have to go out of the village to play. It was within the village, and you had enough young people, youngsters that could form teams.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: How about things like New Year's Day? What would happen on that day in the village?

TM: Well, the New Year's Day was a special day, but to prepare for New Year's Day, one of the highlight was to pound mochi so you pound enough mochi that you had for about even close to a month. And to pound the mochi, the village people got together. The women had a huge table where they processed the mochi, and the men pounded the mochi. And you had a huge mochi bowl and the mochi would be pounded in there. And about three pounders took turns going around, and surprisingly there was no accident. And the mochi were all different types. You could have plain mochi and mochi with beans in it. And the mochi with beans were really delicious because they were sweet. And they didn't last long, but the mochi by itself lasted quite long and after the New Year's the mochi could be fried and shoyu, pour on it, or sugar on it. So it was worthwhile pounding mochi.

TI: But you would do that, always like New Year's Eve, so the day before New Year's?

TM: Yes, New Year's Eve. So the day before New Year's --

TI: Before you go there, where would the mochi pounding be, would there always be a special place?

TM: Well, mochi's special place was right in front of my, actually my father's brother's, you know, my uncle's home. Because they had a flat area and they had that furo where you could, where you heat up the mochi. And a large table was set up and then a space to roam around.

TI: So they, in some ways I'm thinking about, so the furo, they kind of improvised to make that more of like a steamer area to steam the mochi and then they would pound it?

TM: Yes, it was a gathering day because the women gossiped and the men, of course, more reserved, but they could talk. And so it was a fun day.

TI: And so then that was New Year's Eve. Describe then the next day.

TM: Okay, the next day each family had enough food and it was an understanding that if you go to a particular home and say, "Happy New Year," you can go in and have food. They had the food for you, and you did the same with your home and so it was sort of a big affair where you had plenty of food from going from one home to the other. And for us, what was attractive was that on New Year's morning, we went down to my uncle's home and said, bid him Happy New Year, and he had a dollar (...) saved for each of us. And this happened year after year.

TI: Now was this just for his nephews or for all the village people?

TM: No, for us boys.

TI: Okay.

TM: His boys I don't think got any. [Laughs]

TI: So that was the first stop, to get the dollar. Interesting, and then were there like special foods that you really liked when... or were there certain families that were really good cooks that you liked to go to?

TM: Well, I think food was about the same, you know. Because I wanted the sweet foods so you had what they (called) kanten and yokan, which were actually sweet gelatin. And of course, the sweet mochi and drinks, soft drinks and meat, but you actually ate all day, it seemed like.

TI: I can just tell by your reaction, you have fond memories of that day.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: So I'm gonna move on to some other things that you did as a boy. And one thing was when you got your rowboat. Why don't you tell me about how the rowboat was made for you and what did with the rowboat.

TM: Well, my father had two huge boats for his fishing work and when we got old enough, my father said we're able to manage a boat. So, he had a boat built for us, big enough for three of us to get in, and during those days the boats were built at Kakaako. And, you had boat builders that were specialized builders so they could build a boat specifically according to how you wanted it. And ours was a plain boat with a compartment where you could put the fish that you catch, and had water circulating around it, and strictly was a rowboat, and no motor to it. So we fished around the shore lines and out to the deep, but not far. And the fish that we caught that was quite common, you know. You had small uluas, papios, wekes, oamas, and kihikihis, so fish was plentiful, in other words, you could just go out one afternoon after school and come home with fish.

TI: And what would you do with the fish after you caught it?

TM: Well, we didn't catch that (many) fish and so my mother would cook the fish. But if we caught enough, my father would auction it downtown. So you know we had access to how to use the fish. And of particular interest was catching Samoan crab. We had Samoan net which was actually lobster net about six feet height, and then we put baits around the net and laid the net around certain, you know, areas where the Samoan crab would come in. You (left) that net overnight and next morning the crabs would be trapped in the net. And I recall several times when we caught Samoan crabs as large as six or eight pounds. And what happened was that the crabs were sold downtown and, as I recall, we got twenty cents a pound for the crabs. So that was huge money for us.

TI: And so when you were able to make money from catching these things, your father would give you the money? He wouldn't like... you wouldn't give it to the family? This would be your spending money?

TM: Right, in other words, whatever fish we caught and surprisingly he didn't take any commission. [Laughs]

TI: That's a good story. You know, another one was something that you did as a kid that later on helped the family, and that was with the maunaloa flowers?

TM: Yes.

TI: So tell me that story.

TM: Apparently, when we were young, we used to roam around different places and one of the places that we loved to go was at an area where they had hau trees and it was actually the Heeia Wireless Air Station, (turned) by the navy. And around the shoreline we would gather the hau branches and make swords and use that for our games. But, surprisingly, around that area you had maunaloa plants growing and I, for one, took three seedlings, took (them) back home and grew them. One was a white maunaloa plant, the other two were the purple more common one. And my father said, "You couldn't have three because it's going to get to become a forest. You're allowed to have only one." So I kept one and I nursed the plant, got it large enough, had fences made for the vines. Eventually it started getting flowers, the buds, and then flowers. And it kept expanding and this was, as I recall, when I was only about six years or seven years old.

TI: Now why did you do that? This is kind of unusual thing for a six year old boy to do.

TM: Because I love flowers (...) I thought I can grow something and it kept growing and eventually over the years had enough flowers that could be sold downtown to the lei makers.

TI: Right, and we'll get to that later because that comes up during the war a little bit so this is when you're only six and sounds like it was almost, to your father, it was almost a nuisance, you know, to have this... because these were vines, the type that once they start growing, they just keep spreading and spreading and spreading... so interesting, okay.

TM: Surprised they didn't require much care. You water it, wait until the vines get larger, and it keeps expanding. And the fortunate part was the fact that seeds that dropped also sprout out so that actually one plant ended up with maybe dozens of others, you know, plants coming up and that kept growing.

TI: Now, was this plant not very common? Or did other people have lots of maunaloa?

TM: Well, I think wasn't common because, as I recall, you need to have a huge fenced area and you have to take good care of it and then the picking of the flowers. You have to do it, picking early in the morning when they were in the bud state.

TI: And so growing up, did you always kind of care for these flowers a little bit or did they just start growing wild?

TM: Well, after school I used to water it every so often, but just let it go, go wild. And then you built more fences and just kept going, and so you had a huge, actually fenced area with the vines growing. And they were strong, you know, the plants were strong. As new plants came out, they got all mixed up, so didn't know which was (the) younger plant or the larger one but you kept getting the buds.

TI: And then during the day, like, how many flowers would be there, I mean, on these fences?

TM: Well, initially you started with maybe fifty or so, and then it kept expanding and then if you don't pick the flowers (they) would get into seeds and they fall down. So normally you pick the flowers, or even if you don't need the flowers. Just pick 'em.

TI: I'm curious, at any time when you're growing up, did your parents think it was just a nuisance and they thought well, let's just rid of all these vines?

TM: No, they were kind enough to figure that I was so attracted to the flowers and took such good care of it. They let me go ahead and keep on expanding the flowers.

TI: Okay, good. Okay so we'll come back to that again another time.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: You know, I want to talk a little bit about when you were about three, you fell and injured your elbow. Can you tell me that story, what happened to your elbow?

TM: (I was) the oldest in the family. My mother, being quite busy, (did) all the washing and housework (using) a huge bucket. She would put me in the bucket and I would be in the bucket and just move around. Apparently, the bucket was on the second floor and I tumbled down and went all the way down and fractured my left elbow. And I was taken to (a bone technician). During those days you didn't have any bone specialists. They had people who were (...) trained in Japan or (learned) to handle fractured arms. They couldn't do a complete job of straightening the elbow. So I ended up with a crooked elbow as you might call it. And that (deformity) was something that was on my mind throughout the years.

TI: And for something like that where it's a serious injury, where would you go for health care?

TM: (...) As I recall, we didn't have any doctors in Kaneohe or in Heeia. Whenever you had a big accident, you (were taken) downtown. All the doctors were in downtown. For minor accidents, you try to work it at home. When it's serious, then you try to see what would be the best way. In the case of my fractured elbow, they had this particular person (work on my arm).

TI: And this was in, I'm sorry, Honolulu or on --

TM: Within the city, actually town.

TI: And this is... but yeah, so if there is a serious injury, you're like over an hour away from the city, I mean, to get there so it could be pretty dangerous if someone got... like a fisherman got serious injury or something and they had to rush him to a hospital, you know, that could be a... it could take a long time to do that.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Okay, I'm going to switch gears a little bit now, talk about your schooling. When you were young, let's talk first about the school that you went to, Benjamin Parker. Why don't you tell me about that school, and where that was.

TM: Benjamin Parker was a very small school and it was in the town of Kaneohe. It was about a mile away from our home. When I started my first grade they did not have enough rooms so the first grade classes, actually just a single class, was held across in the church. The church had enough space for the first graders, which meant that you were fully away from the main Benjamin Parker. You had to make or take your own lunch. Lunch was all homemade. Then after the first grade, from second grade on, you were in the main Benjamin Parker proper. And that was the start of my education.

TI: Good. You talked about in particular the principal, Ms. Donaldson, I want you to describe her for me.

TM: Benjamin Parker was quite small. It was only an elementary (but) eventually went to the intermediate division. The principal was Mrs. Donaldson, a very energetic woman, a spinster. She controlled the school like a policeman. In other words, people and children were afraid of her. Whenever you did something wrong the teacher would send you to Mrs. Donaldson, which meant that you were going to come out with spanking. She always kept a five foot long rubber hose with her and her trademark was using that rubber hose. Fortunately, I didn't get a single hosing from her.

TI: You know, in your class, what was the kind of make up in terms of different races? Was it mostly Japanese or were there different races, how would you describe it?

TM: Well, there were mostly Japanese. You had Chinese because you had Chinese farmers, and few Hawaiians, and that's about it, I think.

TI: Okay, you mentioned some other things that I thought was really interesting, for like dental care, it sounds like you got your dental care through the school, that's where the dentist would come on a regular basis. Do you remember that?

TM: Yes, the health plan was strictly getting outside (dentist). The dentist came from his office and once a year. He would come around and he would examine you, and if it's a filling, he would do the filling, extraction, he would do that. (...) The school had hired this particular dentist who took care of all the students and that was our dental care that we received.

TI: So the school would pay for this?

TM: Yes, the school paid for it.

TI: You know that's interesting, I've never heard of school, in terms of --

TM: We were not charged for it.

TI: And something else you, that was written, was the day before you left for Christmas break was kind of a special day at the school. Tell me why that was special.

TM: We looked forward to Christmas but the last day of school before Christmas (that) you were in class, the teacher would pass out a box, which was a small, three by five by seven or so (rectangular) box. In there would be toys that were actually donated by the Red Cross. Somehow the school received the boxes every year, and (...) before Christmas, each student got a box. You had enough time to trade the toys that you got and then, in addition to that, you got a apple and an orange and that was our Christmas present from the school.

TI: You know, when you talk about this with other people, growing up in the islands during this time, was that a common thing for people to get these little packages from the Red Cross?

TM: Oh, yes. Apparently they had enough boxes and even a teacher got one for herself.

TI: See this is why I love doing these interviews, you know, I've done most of my interviews on the mainland. I've never heard of this, this is kind of a more unique story about the islands, about these little boxes from the Red Cross, so that's interesting. You know if people were to describe you in terms of what kind of student you were at Benjamin Parker, how would they describe you?

TM: Well, it's hard to say. Apparently, I got along well with the other children, and I did my homework, studied and didn't get into any trouble. As far as class was concerned, I enjoyed school. It was a good time for me.

TI: And how about academic standing, in terms of the class, were you one of the better students?

TM: At that school, they had a class all together, grouped in one class together, and I don't recall getting a report card that was below average. The teachers were quite satisfied. Except for music, I couldn't carry a tune and during music class, the teacher would send me to the library to do research work, I would call it. I would write a paper on a musician that the teacher would assign me and after the class was over, well, the next day, I had to make that report. So I was strictly out of the music class. I just couldn't carry a tune.

TI: It's like when they would sing or something, that you were so off, in terms of singing, she'd rather have you in the library doing research. [Laughs] That's funny.

TM: That's right. In a way it helped me because I learned to write, and in later years I got the help from, you know, that library work.

TI: That's a good story.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Tell me about Japanese language school, where did you do that?

TM: Just about every youngster went to Japanese language school after the regular English school. This meant that one hour after your English school was over, (...) you went to this particular Japanese school and it had different grade levels. You learned basic Japanese, writing, speaking, a little geography, little history and penmanship. (We) spent so much time on penmanship, you know, writing Japanese. Class was rather small but you had to do your homework. You had to clean the room after class, and you had enough time to play around the big yard.

TI: Good, and where... who were the teachers of the Japanese language school?

TM: The Japanese teachers came from Japan and they were hired by the organization that ran the Japanese school. And they were on contract and you had different grade levels so this particular language school had three teachers, the principal, his wife and another teacher. Three of them managed the whole classes.

TI: Okay, good. You were the oldest son of the family. Were there like special expectations for you?

TM: Yes, this thing was always on my mind. The old tradition was that the oldest should get all the education, all the benefits as possible and they expected that person to (...) live an upright life, so that the younger children would follow. So they put emphasis on the oldest child and I was put in that position.

TI: And so how was that manifested, I mean, what would be an example of putting more education for you?

TM: Apparently, from early they gave me an option (...) to get to high school and then get into university. Going to an university was uncommon at that time. But they had figured that if you had the knowledge, or you had the know-how, they would want for you to get to the university. Even sacrificing whatever means, they would try to push you all the way along and hopefully the younger children would follow the path. But emphasis was on the first, so in a way the first got certain privileges.

TI: Certain privileges but was there also, I guess, how did you feel about, like, pressure, I mean, it was like there was maybe a little more pressure being the oldest to do well also?

TM: Yeah, there was a pressure on that part. In fact, I believe I studied more than my younger brothers or sisters, spent a little more time doing homework and then keeping up with the schoolwork. It was a sort of a challenge and it wasn't a burden on me because I enjoyed it.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: Interesting, as you got older, they transferred you to Iolani, from Benjamin Parker, which was kind of the local public school, to more of a prep school, to get you ready for college. How did you feel about that shift?

TM: What had happened was that Benjamin Parker was not considered a school that would prepare you for (the) university. They had private schools in Honolulu which were pretty good, having a good track, taking you to (the) university. To get to the university you had to get into a pretty good public school or private school. McKinley High School was one of the better public schools. My parents said, "Well, (...) we're going to push you to the get to university." (...) So I was encouraged to get to Iolani. I had to pass the examination but the classes and studies that I had at Benjamin Parker were not enough for me to get to the higher level. I had to repeat the eighth grade at Iolani School.

TI: Okay, and so Iolani is in Honolulu. How did you attend there? It would be too far to commute every day back and forth. So where did you live?

TM: (...) It was quite fortunate that my cousins, two cousins, also went to Iolani. You know, they got into Iolani. (An older) cousin worked downtown and he had a car. So he drove us, took us to town, three of us, and at the end of class, took us home. And again the question of Japanese language school came up. After Iolani, I spent one hour at a neighboring, close by Japanese school called Hawaii Chuo Gakuin.

TI: Okay, so you actually did commute back and forth from... okay. Yeah, so I'm looking at my -- so when you were attending McKinley is when you're at Okumura home, so that comes a little later, so that's why. So at this point you're commuting back and forth to Iolani and attending Hawai Chuo Gakuin. Compare the schools, Iolani with Benjamin Parker, how were the schools different?

TM: Well, for one thing Iolani was challenging. Students were very bright and you had to do your best. They had different awards. You had the first award, second award. On the first award, you had to manage to have a grade not lower than B. On that second award, every C had to be made up by an A. And of course it was challenging trying to achieve the award each semester. So we studied hard.

TI: And how about the Japanese schools? How did Hawaii Chuo Gakuin compare with the Japanese language school at Heeia.

TM: Hawaii Chuo Gakuin was run very strictly (by) the teachers. It was not lax. You had to be very accommodating and live with their set up. The principal just about ran the school. Every session before class, you had a big gathering. You had to (bow) to the principal, and he would lecture whatever was necessary and then you were dismissed to go to your class. And the studies were really intensive. The teachers were probably stricter and also much knowledgeable than at the previous language school.

TI: I think I saw in your notes that there was actually a teacher though that taught at both? She first started at Heeia and then when you were at the Hawaii language school, she was teaching there too. Do you recall that?

TM: Yes, when she was teaching at the Heeia Japanese language school, she was on a contract and I had several classes under her. She was attractive, single, and you learned a lot from her. Somehow I believe I was infatuated with her, and she was kind enough to me and I learned a lot. And then when I went to Hawai Chuo Gakuin, she elevated herself and took employment there. And although I didn't have any class from her, she acknowledged me and sort of looked out for me, asked the other teachers how I was doing and what could be done. So I was sort of in contact with her every so often.

TI: So she was really kind to look out for you.

TM: Yes.

TI: It's almost like you had a little schoolboy crush on her, too?

TM: Right.

TI: [Laughs] That's nice.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Okay, so Tosh, we're going to start this second part and the first part we talked about, you know, the prewar growing up at the camp and then where we left it was that you had just started going to school at Iolani. This next part I want to actually now go to December 7th, 1941, you know, that Sunday. Can you describe that day for me, for you?

TM: I was doing my algebra homework for the day, early in the morning, on the second floor. I could always see the entire ocean area, and the naval air station could be seen. Every Sunday, the military people did maneuver, and this particular morning I heard loud sounds and it wasn't the normal type of maneuver that they did. I thought about it and said, they must be doing something more realistic as far as that Sunday morning. And before long, I could see that the sound became louder and I could see planes flying around. I thought, "Gee, they're really doing good work, real realistic type of practice." Then black clouds started coming out. There were two hangars and then before long, the planes disappeared. And then about an hour later, the radio announcer from KGMB, which was a major station, announced, "This is the real McCoy. We are being attacked." I couldn't believe it. Then the announcer described that Japanese planes had come over and that they were bombing certain areas.

TI: And so at that point you recognized that what you had just witnessed was a attack by Japanese planes on the naval air station right there. When the attack was going on, did you notice if the naval air station was able to fire back at the planes, could you tell from that distance?

TM: Not that I know of because only what I could see were planes diving in and before long, disappeared, and none of the planes going out. Later on I found out that it was a huge attack and out of thirty-three planes, twenty-seven were completely demolished and a few planes could have been out maneuvering but never returned to retaliate. The Naval Air Station Kaneohe was the second important air station because Pearl Harbor was number one. And Kaneohe Naval Air Station was pretty important.

TI: Well, and you were pretty familiar with this air station because I think for summer jobs and things you worked there to help build some of the buildings and things like that. So can you describe the air station and how it was laid out?

TM: I got a summer job because I was sixteen, able to work, and applied for summer help, summer work at the naval air station. Fortunately, I was selected and worked as a carpenter's helper and they paid me fifty cents an hour. We worked eight hours a day, Monday through Friday. And my cousins, two cousins, fortunately, also got employed. My cousin and I were carpenter's helpers and we worked under the carpenters. And if I may go ahead, this particular foreman was Kenneth Shioi, and he didn't do any carpentry work but he was a good foreman. Apparently, he had a good group of carpenters. Besides removing nails and stacking lumbers, I was the lunch boy. In other words, I picked up the lunch from the lunch wagons for the carpenters. So I thought I was, you know, doing good work. And I noticed that there was a rush. Two huge hangars were being built, and to enter the naval air station, you had what they called a name tag. You had to show that and leaving the air station you had to do the same thing. So it was pretty well guarded. And it was only for three months but I had enough saved for advanced school.

TI: And that was the place that was attacked and probably, you know, destroyed by those planes on December 7th. That's what you saw in terms of the black smoke, it was probably those hangars that were on fire. The things that you helped build, I guess, over the summer.

TM: Yeah, it was sad to realize that here I did a little effort, helping to build the air strip and then finding it completely demolished. It just was not right and I felt sad about it.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: So going back to that morning, so you observed this happening, you hear the radio saying that this is the real McCoy, then what happened the rest of the day? What was going on?

TM: Well, we were tuned to the radio because that was the only source of communication. There were rumors going all over and we stayed home and then an announcement came out that we were on curfew and it's going to be completely blacked out from now on. We were a territory at that time, so the territorial governor lost his power and the military governor took over. Everything was under martial law and we had to follow what the military had dictated. And it was a time of fear and uncertainty, You didn't know what was going to happen, rumors going around, so you had to keep glued to the radio. Newspapers were completely out for the time being.

TI: And so for your family, your house, what type of changes were made?

TM: For one thing, we were told to build air raid shelters. So my father and I and my brothers got busy constructing an air raid shelter just alongside the home. That was not overnight but it was a sort of drawn out process. And everything was under military power. The fishing boats were completely taken over, nets, so we couldn't get to the ocean anymore and I was strictly staying at home and following orders. The family had to readjust. For example, you had to paint the windows black, so then in case you had indoor light on, it wouldn't shine out. And then we decided to stay closer together and was, (for) everybody, it was a fearful time. Just didn't know what to do, what (was) to come, and we just took orders.

TI: So in, particularly though for a fishing village, if all of a sudden you can't fish anymore, this has a huge impact on the people in that fishing village. So what can the other families do to survive and in your family if you can't fish?

TM: The work was restricted and somehow some of the homes, many of them, had gardens and you started emphasizing garden work, chickens were raised, gardens, fruit trees so I would think that some of the families helped each other. In other words, you gave food here and there and you managed to survive not knowing what's going to be coming ahead.

TI: But then your father was leasing the land from the Bishop Estate and he was getting money from, kind of a commission from fish sales. Now if all that disappears, how did your father continue paying, you know, the lease payments?

TM: Yes, it was a drastic situation. Somehow my father realized that he may be interned, as he was, well, a pretty good businessman, he was a Buddhist and he had gone to Japan and he had taken care of the village people. So he knew that somehow eventually he would be interned and, as I mentioned earlier, he had a taxi driver who had a taxi business and this taxi not only took flowers or fish to downtown, it took passengers. And gasoline was rationed but taxi drivers got a little more gasoline so he managed to keep up with the taxi business. And then before long, the military was asking for help, which meant that there was a drastic situation where barbed wires had to be installed (along) the seashore.

TI: Before you go there, you're talking about the taxi driver, you know, Kato-san, and I think you were going to mention how because your father thought that he was going to be interned, he had a conversation with Kato-san about that, about... because up to that point, your father and Kato-san were really close, not just in friendship but kind of business-wise. So what did your father tell Kato-san when the war started?

TM: My father told Kato-san, "I want you to divorce from me and you get the taxi. You go on ahead and don't come close to me." You know, strictly in a way, "I'm a dangerous person and I may be interned and I want you to go on your own." And Kato-san had a family of his own so he proceeded on his own.

TI: So your father was trying to protect him because he felt that if he were picked up, if Kato-san was too close to him, then he might also get picked up. And so he wanted to kind of, as you say, divorce or sever the relationship so that he would be more independent, okay. So Kato-san isn't helping your father anymore, you were then going to talk about the barbed wires and things that you did so I think some of things that you did for work or job after the job had started? Why don't you talk about that.

TM: Well, when the war started, all schools were closed and people, in fact, children had nothing to do. The military were looking for volunteer workers to set up barbed wire fences around the seashore and I volunteered for it. Every morning a group of us was driven over to different sea areas and then laid barbed wire fences. Later on, they said, "You'll be compensated," and we were paid fifty cents an hour, initially it was strictly volunteer work. Every day for about eight hours, we did manual type of work. That kept us busy. Fortunately for us, we had free lunch. In the meantime, they were looking for carpenters so my father volunteered and became a carpenter. He was with a group of carpenters who were needed to make forms for the machine gun nests, and that type of work was strictly done by the carpenters.

TI: And so it sounds like, you know, your family and probably other families were also able to get like these defense related jobs, whether it's barbed wire or carpentry for machine gun nests, that there was a need for labor so that's what many of you were able to do instead of fishing or things like that. So was that common for lots of school boys, to be doing this?

TM: Yes, it was quite common because when you applied for it they just took you and they said, "We need you," and they had several trucks that went to different places and we as workers did eight hours of work per day.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Okay, but then things after a while started going back to normal, I mean, school started to reopen and so what happened when school, like for Iolani, what happened to Iolani after --

TM: When school opened after the first semester in 1941, that would take us to 1942, Iolani completely closed the school. It was completely closed for a number of (years). It started all over again and (started) only up to eighth grade, which meant that people on higher level had to find their own schools. And I was sort of trapped in there. Then I applied to McKinley High School and started going to McKinley High School because the public school gave you credit for the semester that you were out (...) working. And I was working for the army so that I got credit for that particular semester that I was out. The other students, when school started resumed their studies, so they got the first semester of work done but I completely was out of the first semester. And to get to McKinley, you had to get a district exemption. In other words, I had to live in downtown and fortunately I was able to find a place called Okumura Home. And I stayed there while going to school.

TI: So now that war has started, was there ever discussions about you maybe just going back to Benjamin Parker School and graduating there, rather than being away from the family? Do you recall any discussions about that?

TM: Yes, we had a discussion and my parents said, (...) "We have to get you to the university." And we had some teacher friends who encouraged me to get to McKinley High School, if I (could) get a district exemption. I was able to do that, finding a place to stay in town. And so I started McKinley High School and graduated from McKinley High School.

TI: Okay, so it was really your mother in terms of really again emphasizing education, saying so, "Go to McKinley," because that would give you the best chance to go to college.

TM: Right.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So let's go back to your father because you mentioned him being interned. So the last we talked about him, he was working as a carpenter, building like machine gun nests. So tell me about him being picked up, what happened?

TM: One afternoon, the security people, as my mother told me, there were two military people and an interpreter. They told my father to, "Pack up your tools, we're gonna drive you home." So he returned home with the security people and they, the security people told my mother to pack some clothing for (my) father for a couple of nights. And they would not have my mother talk to my father. They were always close to them. (My parents couldn't disuss) private things. And from what my mother told me, they looked all over, searched the whole house, for anything that they could pick up. And my dictionary for example, Japanese American dictionary was taken and my kendo outfit was taken. And the radio that we had was taken and my father was driven downtown.

TI: And so how did you hear about what happened to your father?

TM: I was away at that time and after my mother related that to me I felt sickened. How would we be able to make a living now, eight of us children and my mother? What would be the means of, you know, making a living? And I said, "Something is wrong. Why? My father didn't do anything wrong. He was a straight man, actually 'alien' person, but why him?"

TI: Because in fact, he was helping the war effort, you know, through his work as a carpenter. Now, was there anything that had happened that would have put your father under suspicion? Because he wasn't picked up initially, so the FBI had their lists of what they considered the most dangerous people and they picked them up right away and your father was a little bit later on. So in the interim period, was it just because you think it just took 'em a long time to get to your father? Or did something else happen that may have made the government more interested in your father?

TM: I have no recollection of that. He was normally doing his carpentry work and regular normal living and it just happened suddenly. So they must have had a record of what he did over the years and came to the conclusion that he had to be interned.

TI: And at this point you mentioned you were away, were you at the boarding school at this time in Honolulu?

TM: Yes, I was at McKinley High School, at the boarding (home) and my mother called me to indicate that my father was interned. And when I returned home for the weekend, I got (the) full in detail (of) what had happened.

TI: And then, yeah, I think you mentioned that you were able to visit your father. So why don't we talk about that. How would you be able to visit your father?

TM: Every Sunday a military bus came downtown, right in front of the Kamehameha Statue and people that wanted to visit their interned parents or so had to be there at the particular morning. And at a particular time that you were driven over to that internment camp, spend several hours, and you would return back downtown. And I was able to catch the bus on certain Sundays and get to meet my mother and go there. Apparently, they didn't allow a large group from a family, about two per family were allowed for the visit.

TI: And so then when you went with your mother, so you and your mother, would you be able to bring anything to your father? So when you visited him, did you have anything for him?

TM: I don't recall having anything, because you had actually the military guards and strictly, you know, movement was really watched and it was strictly talking to the interned person and when it was over, sent home.

TI: So what I'm going to do right now is kind of walk through a... just say one of your visits. And so you mentioned being picked up and what kind of vehicle did they take you to the camp in, do you recall whether it was a bus or a car?

TM: Well, this particular bus had a full load, and went to the internment camp. You were discharged and led to a room where you had the person interned.

TI: Okay, so before we even go there, so the bus ride over, you mentioned other families were there, can you describe what the mood was like in the bus?

TM: Yeah, it was really gloomy, people did not talk to each other. We got to be friends with a few families. Other than that it was strictly, getting on the bus, getting to that internment camp, being returned home and going home. So the mood was really sad.

TI: Sort of somber, quiet?

TM: Somber.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: Okay, and then so you took the bus to the internment camp. Which internment camp was your father at?

TM: As I recall, I think it was the Sand Island Internment Camp because it was near the ocean and I really don't have a full recollection because I didn't know that they would eventually have another internment camp. The fact is that we were just taken to that place and we saw my father and then taken home. So I did not pay attention to the surrounding, strictly going there and returning.

TI: Yeah, if you can think back, so there were two, there were Sand Island and then Sand Island was closed and then the Honouliuli, so it would be probably one of those two camps. And then difference being Sand Island would be next to the ocean and Honouliuli would be in this kind of gulch which is away from the ocean. Do you have any recollection of which one that would be in terms of just the --

TM: Well, I checked with the Japanese Cultural Center to get that information, and they had indicated that they had no record of my father being at Honouliuli, and that they did not have any record of my father going to Santa Fe. So I would concludes that (...) I was mistaken all the time thinking that my father was at Honouliuli. He was at Sand Island and from Sand Island, after a length of time, was shipped directly to Santa Fe because that information that I got from the Japanese Cultural Center, (did) indicate that he was rushed over without sending over to Honouliuli.

TI: Okay, so Sand Island, which, you know, I think timing-wise makes a lot of sense because Honouliuli wasn't open 'til 1943, so March 1943. And if your father was picked up in 1942, then that would be most likely Sand Island. Do you have a sense of how long he was detained in Honouliuli or at Sand Island, how long he was there?

TM: As I can say, the other children never saw my father ever since he was taken to Sand Island. I was able to see him on visits and, as I can see, my father was interned late sometime in 1942 and then from 1943, he was at Santa Fe until the end of the war.

TI: Okay, going back to visiting your father, describe when you first saw your father, how he looked, I mean, what kind of feeling did you have when you saw your father at this place?

TM: Well, we don't speak too well in Japanese but my mother did all the talking. And I sensed that my father was concerned, he was worried and they talked about all the children. He talked about how the children were doing and how we were getting along because it was a big burden on him. And the visits sort of eased him but not to the point where he would be fully satisfied. And he himself didn't know when he would be shipped to the mainland. And it was my mother's courage that I was appreciative. She was a strong woman, she kept all of us under control and she seemed to manage under the grim condition.

TI: Yeah, because I'm sure he was concerned, I mean, he knew about, you know, the lease payments probably to the Bishop Estate and just all the business things were probably in his head and he wanted to make sure that the family was okay. Going back to the internment camp, how did the guards treat your father? Did you... what was the attitude of the guards towards the prisoners?

TM: Well, I have no idea how the guards treated them, but the guards had rifles and they didn't talk much. You just followed what they told you, and the internees, I assumed, took all this, followed exactly what the military said. So they had no freedom as they were afraid, they were tense, and of course they were worried about their families, and that's the impression I got.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: Okay, so now I'm going to go back to your mother now, you mentioned how, you know, during this time when your father was away, she was really strong, she really kind of, you know, kept things together. So now that your father's gone, how did the family survive? How did they survive the situation with the main breadwinner now gone?

TM: The state, it was a state, The Territorial Department of Social Service realized that we could not make a living (...), you know, a family of eight children and my mother. So quite often they came over. A worker came over, and asked whether we needed help. My mother was really strong, she felt embarrassed even getting a penny from the state, or actually from the territory. So she said she can manage. The flower business started, had been picking up at that time and Kato-san had been independently doing his taxi service. And so arrangement was made for us to get the buds picked in the morning. My mother would lug the buds over to downtown with Kato-san, and return home. And that meant working early in the morning. In other words, the children had to get up around five o'clock in the morning and then, in the dark, use the kerosene lantern with blue shields around, pick the plant, buds, and then package the buds, and then have the buds sold at the lei stands. You had to pick the flowers, actually the buds early before they bloomed. Because the (...) lei sellers wanted to make sure that they could string the buds and then open it up later. So once the (buds) were picked and then packaged and sent out, your income came from selling the buds. And it was enough to keep us going.

TI: And do you have a sense of how much the flowers... how much money the flowers made when you sell them?

TM: Well, the maunaloa flowers were really attractive, the military people wanted them because the flowers, the leis would last long but the flowers were forbidden from getting to the mainland, only local sales. And they were selling quite well so we had enough income coming in. Initially, you know, it started small but at times it (had) gone up to about fifteen to twenty dollars a day, which was every day. So you could see that income was coming in on a daily basis.

TI: So it's interesting, so this kind of ties into earlier so that plant as a six year old boy, that you planted, and then made fences for, now this is, you know, ten years plus later, is now the... gives your family the ability to make money by harvesting the flower buds, early in the morning. And then your mom and Kato-san would then take it to Honolulu to sell and that helped the family during this very difficult time. You know, for Kato-san, did he get then a percentage of the sales because he helped transport it back and forth?

TM: No, in fact, he was generous enough that he did not charge my mother riding to town and returning. He didn't collect a single penny from us. He was so helpful, we're grateful to him over the years and he accommodated us and made sure that my mother did not miss a single morning taking the flowers to downtown. And he always reserved a space in his cab for my mother. And things worked out fine because of him.

TI: Yeah, I mean, it's just when I think of how everyone had to help, your siblings had to wake up early in the morning, pick the buds, friends like Kato had to help your mother to get through this difficult time. And how did you feel because you were at this point in Honolulu away from the family while this was all going on. I mean, did that concern you? Did that worry you about the family?

TM: Yes, I felt helpless. I, at times thought (...) I should get to (...) Kaneohe, or Heeia and do my studies there and even help out. But my mother forbid me from doing that. She always said, "You have your work to do, your work is to go ahead and get as much education as you can. And the object is to get to the University of Hawaii, get your degree." So in a way, I was comforted by her thoughts. She pushed me for that. But physically and mentally, I wanted to put my share in.

TI: How did your siblings feel, your brothers? Did you ever talk with them about the situation and whether or not you should help or stay in school, did that ever come up?

TM: No, it did not come up but they knew that I was bright enough so that I was able to push myself to the university. So they were glad to chip in. In other words, they figured that even if I didn't do a single type of work, they would be able to help me through.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: Okay, so 1944 you graduate from McKinley High School, and this is while you are being boarded at the Okumura House. After you graduate from McKinley High School, what happens next?

TM: Well, it was a question of how to get to the university, to pay my tuition, and room and board. And by a stroke of luck, my cousin was working part-time in the office at the Halekulani Hotel. An opening occurred in the dining department. They were looking for a part-time worker to work in the evenings, so my cousin approached me and said that he could arrange for me to see the management of the Halekulani Hotel to see if I can get the job. I was eager, fully eager to do that so I had an appointment with the manager of the Halekulani Hotel, the head waiter, and other people involved. They accepted me so I was able to get to the university while staying at the Halekulani. They gave me room and board and I worked three evenings per evening working in the dining department.

TI: I'm sorry, so three hours per evening?

TM: I mean, yes, three hours.

TI: So I'm from the mainland and so explain to me, in 1944, the Halekulani in terms of as a hotel. Describe the Halekulani in terms of how important or how it was one of the top hotels in Honolulu at this time.

TM: Halekulani was a rather small hotel, but a well known hotel. It was considered one of the top hotels and they had bungalows at that time, different bungalows, not a single big building. The main building had rooms but mostly it was spread with bungalows around which meant that working in room service you had to move around to go to different bungalows. My job was in room service, I was energetic enough, able to move around, and at night made so many, you know, servings.

TI: So people would do essentially room service so they would call to the restaurant or to the desk and say they would want dinner and then you would have to go pick it up at the kitchen and bring it to the bungalow. And then later on, pick up the plates and bring everything back. And you did this three hours a night. How many a nights a week did you have to work?

TM: Actually, five nights a week, I had two days off, Saturday and Sunday were my free time. I had to learn how to work in the room service. It was touch and go at the beginning. I had to learn how to balance a tray with foods on it. (...) The head room service person said, "You go out to the beach, carry a tray, and put sand on it, and keep balancing and then learn how to balance the tray." That was crucial. That's a very important part of it. Later on I was told how to make sandwiches and pick up food from the kitchen and then make the order for each service.

TI: So in addition to just being a waiter, it's some of the simpler foods, you had actually to be kind of like a short order cook, you had to, like, make a sandwich and if it was maybe a soup or something, go get the soup and just do those kinds of things on your own, I see. And then on the beach, to learn how to balance, why the beach, why did they let you do it there?

TM: Because that room was not big enough for me to just circle around, and that beach, it was open and even if you dropped items, it didn't hurt. In the dining room, it's easy to become messy. The good part was that every order that I took, I had a tip. The guests made it a point to tip you. And that kept me going because I was paid fifty dollars per month from the hotel, and then with the tip I was able to manage my costs at the University of Hawaii.

TI: On a typical night, how much tip would you get?

TM: I would think about three to four dollars a night.

TI: So this is during the war, this is, you know, 1944, summer of 1944, you start. Who are the guests coming to the Halekulani at this time?

TM: The guests were from the military, officers in the military stayed here. And newspaper and reporters (who) worked in the Pacific came over, movie actors and actresses, very few business people and very few local people but they had enough visitors and enough guests to keep the hotel busy.

TI: So I'm wondering, so these people are, many of them are from the mainland so they're not local. Coming from the mainland, during the war, you realize that there was a lot of anti-Japanese feelings, especially on the West Coast and places like California. Did you ever have guests who were surprised to see Japanese just walking around serving them and was there any anti-Japanese feelings from the guests towards any of the Japanese working at the Halekulani?

TM: Not that I know. Apparently, the guests were quite intelligent. They got friendly with the workers because it was a rather small hotel. You did service for them, they appreciated it, and they started calling you by your first name. And it was a friendly atmosphere, I didn't have any qualms about it. It wasn't anti-Japanese. But there was an incident I cannot forget. Apparently, one of the guests called the police department saying that there was a Japanese worker working there who had a Japanese flag on his cap. When the officers came, they found out that the worker had a Red Cross pin on his cap. Everyone had a big laugh because, from a distance it looked like a Japanese rising sun pin. And that's the only incident I can recall where you had sort of a friction that happened.

TI: Now that's interesting so she thought that this worker had sympathies towards Japan and was wearing, blatantly wearing a Japanese flag on his cap and so she called the police. What did she, what was her reaction when she realized that it was just a Red Cross pin?

TM: She was speechless and I know that she apologized saying that she didn't know that it was a Red Cross pin rather than a Japanese flag pin.

TI: Yeah, there was another incident that you wrote about. April 1, 1946, when you were working at the Halekulani, there was a tsunami?

TM: Yes.

TI: Tell me about that.

TM: Well, you did not expect a tsunami to happen. They had no means of letting you know that tsunami was coming and all of a sudden the whole islands, even the neighbor islands, were affected by this tsunami. I, working at the Halekulani that morning, could see the ocean where huge waves started coming in and then went up to the yard and into the dining room. And then the waves would retract and you could see large areas of coral exposed, fish jumping up and down and then another huge wave would come, and then retract again. This happened about three or four times and then you realized it was a tremendous (tsunami) that hit the island. And later on, we found out that the Big Island was the island that suffered the most. Some lives were lost.

TI: So the damage wasn't that bad in Waikiki area?

TM: No.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: Tell me a little bit about Waikiki during the war. What was that like in terms of an area?

TM: Waikiki at that time was not as bright and open as now. It was a quiet place. You had two good theaters, the Waikiki Theater and Kuhio Theater, and you made reservation to be sure that you got a seat in the hotel, I mean, theater. I preferred the Waikiki Theater because it was classier, you had an organist and you had good seats and you made your reservations. So a couple of times I did go to the (theater). Around the streets, you had vendors where they had hot dog stands and then a few dining restaurants, a bowling alley, and other than that, it was a quiet place. One of the big restaurants was Lau Yee Chai, which was a Chinese restaurant, and then hotels here and there, Royal Hawaiian (...). Then you had the Moana Hotel and then Princess Kaiulani came out later, and next to the Halekulani was the Niumalu Hotel, a small hotel which later became the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

TI: Interesting, going back to Halekulani, who owned the hotel at this time?

TM: Halekulani was owned by the Kimball family. Mr. Kimball passed away, so Mrs. Kimball ran the hotel. She had a son who was the manager (...) for awhile. The manager, Richard Kimball, was busy with his business and political work that they got a new manager called Gwen Austin who stayed there while I was at the Halekulani. And Mrs. Kimball ran the hotel on a personal basis.

TI: And describe your relationship with Mrs. Kimball because you did things with her.

TM: Mrs. Kimball stayed in a bungalow and she got all the information from the head waiter and things ran well. So she had very little to do except seeing that the hotel was being run well. Every so often she would have a family gathering in Manoa, at the home of her eldest son. And at that home, the family would get together and they would need a waiter to serve them. And she somehow took a liking to me and then she asked me if I wanted to wait at the home. I felt bad because there were other waiters who had been there quite a long time and that I being picked, I wanted to do it but I talked to the head waiter and asked him that I felt kind of awkward being picked by her. He said, "Don't worry, it's for the good of us. Accept it and wait for her." So I waited on the family and this happened several times and she drove me to that home, took me back, and gave me a tip each time I did that.

TI: So this was a private residence of her son?

TM: Yes.

TI: And so it was just a large home in another part of Honolulu that you would go to?

TM: Yes, Manoa was about two miles away from Halekulani, in fact, I live in Manoa now. And it's up in the hills, in the mountain area, and at that time was a secluded community, well-recognized.

TI: So I'm curious, were your impressions, you know, here you grew up in a fishing camp on the side of the island, and now you're in a position where you're in a home where it's much different probably in terms of what they did in there. What impressions or what did you learn by observing the Kimball family?

TM: I learned that if you do a good job, the management will recognize you and that the main thing is that do your job well and don't get into trouble. Be as friendly and cordial as possible so I was sort of outward in a way, talking to guests, and then knowing them, their calling me by my first name. And do all the service that was required at the hotel.

TI: How about things in terms of just observing the family dynamics in terms of family values, I mean, when you look at a Kimball family versus your family, were there differences in terms of how people responded to each other, or how they were raised, or did you notice anything like that that you thought was interesting?

TM: Well, I couldn't see much of that but whenever I was serving at that home in Manoa, I sensed that it was a close-knit family. They got along well, respected each other and that it reminded me somewhat of our family. In other words, they were very cordial and respected each other.

TI: Okay, good.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: Okay, so I'm going to switch gears now. Go to now the end of the war, so August 1945. So I guess the first question is when the war ended, what was your reaction, when the war ended?

TM: I was glad in a way that I would be able to see my father and over the years, he being interned. I had no idea how physically he would be. And I thought to myself, "I'm glad that it's over now, the whole family can get together." Then as to the injustice done to our family, I reserved, had reservation for that. Realizing that it was war and the military had to take action and whether it was necessary for my father to be interned, I thought they didn't want to miss anything. They wanted to make sure that everything went right and if there was any sign of misdirection, they weren't sure, and so I said that was war.

TI: Is that how you feel today? That, you know, in times of war, the military, to protect the country, the military has to be very careful about these things, or very rigorous about these things?

TM: Yes, I realized that injustice was done, the fact that the President of the United States made a public apology and I put myself in being addressed by the President, the whole family. And that I have accepted the apology and there was one reservation I had was the health of my father. My father was a very energetic, healthy person. I don't recall a single day when he was sick. And when he returned, I sensed that he was not that healthy. He was worried, he was reserved and that he did not have the energy that I had seen in him before. And over the years his health declined. He had to get into a hospital, lost conscious and then passed away. That was the thing that I had no answer for. Was it this internment that did it? Because he died in 1951 at the age of sixty-two, which I thought was rather young for a energetic person.

TI: And so going back to that, sort of that decline in health after the camp, do you think it was physical or do you think there was perhaps even an emotional kind of impact of the experience that really broke his spirit, or you know, just really hurt him that way?

TM: Well, not realizing how the internment camp was run, I realized that, in a way it was physical because he didn't have any physical activity, was resigned to stay put at a place. And mentally it did affect him too because of the worry that he had about his family and not being able to do anything. And those two things, mentally and physically, I think greatly affected him.

TI: Yeah, when he... the first time you saw him after the war, so the end of August, physically how did he look? Did he look different than when, than before the war?

TM: It seemed like he didn't seem to be like himself before, as I knew him. He brought home a collection of rocks that he had collected, gave that to me, and then had things that he did like making plastic toothpaste handle ornaments and things of that sort. In other words, just the indoor type of items that he had brought back. And of course he brought back lot of books that he had written, strictly Japanese and I don't know what he had written but he came back with stacks of books that he had (written) at the internment camp.

TI: How about the relationship with your mother, you know, your father and mother? Did you see that change, versus before the war and after the war?

TM: Yes, I found that now my mother had to sort of guide my father, you know, had to be the person that gave orders. In others words, my father was more resigned. Previously my father was the one that handled everything and my mother was in the background, but now my mother was in the foreground, worried about my father's health, even taking care of the children or even telling us what to do. My father was strictly more resigned.

TI: And how did that make you feel when you saw that? I mean, it was probably a pretty dramatic difference. Before the war, your father really being the leader, the head of the household and then with him coming back now, your mother needing to sort of take that role?

TM: I thought this was a consequence of him being interned and for that reason I thought we had to help out, too. My mother was doing the right thing, trying to help my father watching over his health, and we pitching in to make sure that my father was alright because I felt sorry for my father.

TI: On the other hand, your mother really had to emerge in many ways, you know, during the war, she had to become strong in some ways to, you know, for the family. How about any of your other siblings, did you see any other changes in your siblings, like before versus after the war that was dramatic?

TM: One thing I realized that during the war, when things were not going right, it was a matter of making a living, was fear and not knowing what's ahead. We all worked together and that became so important to me. I realized that under the situation, we were able to work together and contribute to whatever we can and that carried on in later years. All us children were close together, we pitched in and we sort of grew up during the war. My mother was very contented later on. She told me several times that, "I'm a very fortunate woman. All my children got to be grown up individuals and when they, each child went his individual ways and then became a family man or family member, and had raised a family and not a single (child) caused any trouble." And she said she's very grateful for that and I told her that, "It's because of you, your leadership and your strong will that kept us going. You directed us in the right direction."

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: So, Tosh, this third section where we left you last was you were at the University of Hawaii working at the Halekulani Hotel, and so why don't we pick up the story back up there. You're now at the University of Hawaii, so what happens next?

TM: I went to the University of Hawaii and went there for two years. I was interested in medicine so I took a pre-med course. That meant that you had to get to the mainland to go to a mainland university. Pre-med was a very difficult area because getting to med school was quite difficult. It's competitive. And then I realized at that point that it's going to be expensive, but nevertheless, I applied to the University of Louisville, they having a medical school. So I left for the University of Louisville.

TI: And before you go to University of Louisville, so you mentioned this was going to be expensive, you know, the travel expenses to go to the mainland, the tuition for a mainland school, all of a sudden it's a lot more expensive than going to the University of Hawaii, where you could essentially pay for it all on your own. What kind of discussion did you have with the family about you doing this?

TM: Well, I mentioned to the family that getting to the medical school was quite expensive. I had taken the pre-med track, but my studies could lead me to other areas and I'm also interested in chemistry, so I am looking also seriously going into the chemical field. And so my track is to look ahead and have that medical set up on one side but being able to lean on to chemistry. In the meantime I applied -- this was not known to anybody -- I applied to a school of osteopathy in Chicago. I was accepted to that school but at other medical schools I was rejected. I visited the Chicago school. They wanted me to enroll and when I, later at the University of Louisville, decided that it would be too expensive, I wrote a letter to the school saying that I would not be enrolling there, that and honestly I will be taking the chemical track and I'll be going to a university to get my chemical degree. And that was the situation so while at the University of Louisville, after I got my degree, I wanted to get into a graduate school, a chemical one.

TI: So let me just make sure I understand this. So when you were first applying, there was a medical school in Chicago that was willing to accept you but you chose the University of Louisville, was that because of cost? I wasn't quite sure why you chose Louisville over the school in Chicago.

TM: No, to make it correct, I was at the University of Louisville and finishing my senior year and I had enough credits to get into the (...) Chicago university. So at University of Louisville I applied (to) the School of Osteopathy and they accepted me. So it's similar to trying to get into a med school after you get your degree.

TI: Exactly, so it's kind of like when you're graduating from the University of Louisville, this is where you had to really decide whether medicine or chemistry?

TM: Right.

TI: Okay, got it. And what was your undergraduate degree at Louisville?

TM: I was in chemistry, I got my degree in chemistry and I, apparently I had pretty good grades so I was inducted into their honor society called the Woodcock Society. They did not have a (Phi Beta Kappa) at that time so I had been a member of the Woodcock Society. They picked up about eight percent of the graduates to induct (into) the Woodcock Society. Other than that, I went strictly to the chemical track and then applied to several Big Ten schools. I wanted to get into a Big Ten school because I thought at that time, they were the tops as far as the chemical fields were concerned. Unfortunately during my high school years and in my college we did not have any guidance. In other words, we didn't have guidance to help us get into whatever we wanted, so all these things that I did were on my own. I had to find my own track, lead my way, and here and there I made my mistakes. And then finally ended up and took chemistry.

TI: And so after Louisville you decided to go the chemistry track, so where did you go after Louisville?

TM: After getting my degree, bachelor's degree at Louisville I applied to several Big Ten schools, Illinois, Ohio State, Indiana and Iowa. The first school that accepted me was Ohio State University, so once I was accepted, I wrote to the other schools, saying that I would not, you know, apply to their schools. In the fall of 1949, I attended the University of Hawaii in the graduate school division.

TI: In 1949 you were in the University of Hawaii?

TM: No, 1949 I graduated in June from University of Louisville, then that September I went to Ohio State University.

TI: To start the graduate program?

TM: Yes.

TI: And you mentioned the Big Ten, why Big Ten versus the West Coast or the East Coast? What was it about the Big Ten that was interesting to you?

TM: Well, for one thing, (...), the Big Ten schools were not segregated. I went to University of Louisville and while there, the school was segregated and I wanted to go to a school that was open, had a good track record and the Big Ten schools were my ideal schools to get into.

TI: Okay, but then did you consider places like Berkeley or UCLA which had really good sort of chemistry departments, especially Berkeley probably had a really good chemistry department?

TM: It seems like I was so concerned, so decided on getting to a Big Ten school, the California schools did not interest me.

TI: Okay. And during this time, like summers, would you go back to Hawaii or would you stay on the mainland during this time period? You know, after you graduated from Louisville, did you return to Hawaii to visit the family or did you stay on the mainland?

TM: I returned to the family and I did some summer work. I worked at the plantation... I mean, pineapple canneries and every summer that I returned home I got a job at one of the canneries. And that was sufficient to pay my airfare to get back.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: Okay, so you now go to Ohio State University for a graduate program, and so how was it entering a graduate program in chemistry at OSU?

TM: Well, it was completely different. You had selected people who had applied and it was very competitive. You had to (maintain) a certain grade point average to be able to continue in the graduate school. And it was a constant struggle trying to get good grades.

TI: And as you're going to graduate school at OSU, how's the family doing back in Hawaii, what's going on with the family?

TM: In 1949, my father lost his health, he was weak, and (during the 1950) summer that I returned I was able to see him. Then as I did my studies in 1951, I was called by my mother saying that my father was quite ill, that it would be best that I returned home to see him before he left us. And so I (made) arrangement, I made arrangement with my professors and in 1951, August, I was able to return home. When I returned home, my father was already in a coma situation. He was at Queen's Hospital and from there he went to Maluhia Hospital in Kalihi, and stayed there until he died. But I was able to see him, talk to him, but he could not respond, and after he passed away, I returned to Ohio State and decided that I would now get my master's degree first and hopefully PhD. Because normally at that time you went to a graduate school, bypassed your master's degree, and go directly to your PhD which would shorten your grad school days by one year, I think. But I needed to get the master's degrees to show that I (had) earned something. Because I didn't know what drastic situation may happen again at home where I would not be able to continue.

TI: So you were concerned that something might happen that might disrupt your PhD track, and that you might not get anything. So at least get the master's first so that you'll have that and then you'll continue hopefully for PhD. But by doing so, you had to do a thesis for a master's which would take longer. So it was like an extra step that you took.

TM: I had to explain to my senior professor that I wanted to get the master's degree (first) and so the (...) the research that I'm doing to get my thesis worked out would be for master's. He told me that he understood my situation but all his degrees that he gave were (worth) the PhD degrees. So my master was equivalent to a PhD thesis research, and I'm actually doing two PhD type research. I said that I understood that and even if it (took) me longer I would be assured of a master's degree.

TI: So was he trying to talk you out of it in some ways?

TM: Well, he pointed out what most students were doing and the way to cut short your expense staying at the graduate school.

TI: So you first get your master's but then you continue and get your PhD?

TM: Yes.

TI: And what year did you graduate with your PhD?

TM: I got my PhD degree in 1954, June.

TI: Okay, and so that took you, looks like about, five years?

TM: That's right.

TI: Which for most PhDs, chemistry, it takes about five or six years, doesn't it?

TM: That's right.

TI: For most people. So it really didn't take you much longer than anyone else?

TM: (...) Some of (the) graduate students were saying, "You're an eager beaver, you're getting out much earlier than most of us." I said, "Well, I have a very important reason to do that, that I'm needed at home eventually."

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: So 1954, PhD chemistry. What are the job prospects for PhD chemists?

TM: At that time jobs were plentiful. They were looking for chemists and other scientists so before we got our degree, the companies interested in you would come over and interview you and invite you to their organization and offer you, if you're capable, a job. So you had so much offer. Jobs were plentiful and as I recall, I had at least four offers to decide on which track to go to.

TI: And before we get to which one you chose, so after you got your PhD, what was your mother's reaction to you being a doctor?

TM: Well, my mother was elated and word passed around in that small Heeia community that I got a PhD in chemistry and this was unusual because getting a PhD from Kaneohe was unheard of. And word got around that I got it and a radio Japanese station interviewed my mother and things like that happened and she was quite happy.

TI: Did she say anything to you, personally, just one on one, about you getting a PhD? Because she, in some ways this was one of her dreams for you to go through all the education, to go to college, and then ultimately get a PhD. So she must have been pretty happy about this. Did she ever talk to you personally?

TM: Yes, she did. She was talking about it and she said, "Now the next step you have is finding a job." And while she didn't come out openly, she wanted me to find a job in Hawaii. I said, "In the chemical field, opportunities are very limited in Hawaii. On the mainland I have offers already and I could get a job any time I want." But I always had in mind that she wanted me to return to Hawaii and get a decent job in Hawaii. And for that reason, I decided to take one extra year of research as a PhD, post doctorate worker. So I worked another year at Ohio State as a post doctorate research chemist. And it gave me enough time to look around in the field of chemistry in Hawaii. I was hoping that by chance I might be able to find a position. But I had the mainland company, one of the mainland companies, already reserved in case I had to find a job.

TI: While then there was a position that opened up in Hawaii. So describe that position.

TM: One of the chemistry professors in sugar chemistry had heard that there was an opening at the Hawaii Sugar Planters' Association. And he informed my senior professor that they were looking for someone. So I was contacted by my senior professor. I applied to the Planters' Association if there was an opening. And they did not reply to me for a while but eventually they said, "We will put you under consideration." And in the meantime, I was working as a post doctorate at the Ohio State University. Then the director of the sugar planters, the research division happened to be traveling on the mainland and he was an Ohio State alumnus and he made arrangement to interview me at Ohio State. And so he interviewed me and said, "I cannot promise you a job in Hawaii. It will depend on the department head but I will put good words for you to the department head and he will decide whether he will offer you a job or not." And it stood at that point.

TI: Now tell me a little bit about the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association because it doesn't sound like necessarily a place where a chemist would work, I mean, it sounds like a sugar association. Describe why you would want to work at the Sugar Planters' Association.

TM: For one thing, I got my degree in organic chemistry and in organic chemistry you can go into various fields, can go into the pharmaceutical field, the oil industry, industrial research and even in sugar research. And I had enough courses in sugar chemistry that I could be comfortable working for the sugar industry. So I thought to myself, while it may be limited, I'll take a crack at it and see if I could get into the sugar industry.

TI: When it comes to the sugar chemistry, the Planters' Association was probably one of the top research facilities when it comes to sugar research, you know, sugar chemistry research. And so isn't that correct, isn't that why you were interested so it wasn't just a kind of... I mean, it was a well-known research facility is what I'm trying to make a point of.

TM: The Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association had a research center called the Experiment Station. It was well-known. In fact, it was one of the first private research institution in the United States. They were well-known for their research in sugar and even in Hawaii it was a well-recognized organization. To get into that research center was very difficult. It was a prestigious position and people respected scientists working for the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association. Even during the war, they contributed a lot.

TI: And so you were hired by the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association and so really, going back to your mother's dream, that not only did you get your PhD, but you then were able to come back to Hawaii, to Honolulu, to work so it really, again, must have pleased her that all these things happened, you know, for you and for the family.

TM: That's right, she was quite happy because she doesn't know anything about the chemical field. The fact that I went into sugar research and got employed but the Experiment Station meant a lot to her. And, in fact, I was the first Asian PhD accepted by the Experiment Station, and later on there were other Asians and people coming in. So my mother was happy being assured that I was the first to get into that opening (...).

TI: So, Tosh, that comes to kind of the end of my questions, but I want to give you an opportunity to chat about anything else that you think you would want to include in this interview. I want to in some ways show that the sacrifices your mother made to have you educated kind of bore fruit in terms of you getting PhD and then getting a really good job in Hawaii. Again, it's just not your mother, I mean, you had to do all the work. But is there anything else you want to talk about?

TM: The thing that I want to mention is that I, actually, was away from home for about thirteen years strictly because of my studies. Starting from McKinley High School, going to University of Louisville, and then Ohio State University, so it seems that all the effort that I spent, the fact that I was able to please my mother, get home and get a decent job, made me happy, in other words, I did not fully realize that it was something that I could do. I would have been perhaps happier if I stayed on the mainland where the things were more open in the chemical industry and then I could have progressed much more. But I feel comfortable in the fact I have served my time, was able to meet my goal, got a decent job, and was able to survive in the chemical industry, this was the sugar industry. And so, in a way, I feel that it has come to a good conclusion and so I am enjoying my retired life.

TI: That's good, that's a good way to end it. So thank again for doing this interview, I really enjoyed it, I learned a lot in doing the research and talking with you. Again, thank you.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.