Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Paul Takagi Interview
Narrator: Paul Takagi
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Oakland, California
Date: March 16, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-tpaul_2-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So today is Wednesday, March 16, 2011. We're in Oakland at the home of Paul Takagi. And on camera is Tani Ikeda, my daughter, and off camera is Casey Ikeda, and I'm doing the interview, Tom Ikeda. So Paul, I'm just going to start from the beginning of your life. Can you tell me when you were born?

PT: May 3, 1923, in Auburn, California.

TI: So that makes you how old? You're eighty-eight?

PT: Almost eighty-eight.

TI: Almost eighty-eight.

PT: So I can make mistakes. [Laughs]

TI: Okay, good. And then you said Sacramento Valley you were born?

PT: No, this was in Auburn, up in the hills. And I had an older sister that was born before me, and then there was another first boy that was born something like, maybe about five or six years earlier. And he had fallen into an irrigation ditch and he died. That really troubled my father in so many different ways. And I think because of that, he turned to Christianity slowly, and I became a kid that, in many ways, was sharply watched by my parents.

TI: Oh, interesting. So because of the death of your older brother, they were almost overprotective?

PT: Yes. And, of course, as you know, in Japanese culture, a boy, the firstborn boy was very important. And the reason I think this has so much significance for my father is he left Japan when he was about thirteen years old.

TI: Okay, let me just ask a couple questions. So you were born in 1923 near Auburn, what was your given name?

PT: Takao.

TI: Takao. And where did "Paul" come from?

PT: When I started grammar school. And the reason is the Japanese, by then, we were living near Sacramento, and he was doing some kind of vegetable farming. And every now and then the Sacramento River would overflow. He had to carry each of us up to the railroad track, and then the Japanese Salvation Army gave us housing there. And then he turned to Christianity for the first time and he ran across the word "Paul," and that's how I got the name Paul. [Laughs]

TI: Okay, so one of the apostles, Paul, you're named after him. Interesting.

PT: But it's not on my birth certificate.

TI: Okay, so Takao Paul, what was your older sister's name?

PT: The older sister's name was Toshiko. And she did not get the attention that I did. And I think -- this is sad, because in most Japanese families, the boy is highly...

TI: Prized or lauded?

PT: Yes, important. But she's still alive, but I have very little contact with her.

TI: Okay. And then your brother who died, what was his name?

PT: My brother died. What was his name?

TI: Yes, do you remember his name?

PT: Good question.

TI: Okay, that's okay. How about other siblings besides your older sister, older brother? Did you have any other brothers or sisters?

PT: I had a younger sister. She was born in Sacramento also. She became a deaf-mute.

TI: Okay, interesting.

PT: I don't know why.

TI: So when you were growing up, you grew up with two sisters, an older sister and a younger sister?

PT: Yes.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: So now let's talk a little bit about your father. What was your father's name and where was he from?

PT: His name was Tomokichi.

TI: And where was he from?

PT: He was from Hiroshima. There was a Japanese scholar who wrote a lot about, formally about the Japanese. This part he did not write about. A large number of Japanese came to this country to avoid military service. And in Japan, when you are born, you're one year old. So by the time you are (thirteen) or (fourteen) years old, you cannot leave anymore. So my father left just about when he was (twelve) or (thirteen) and went to Hawaii. I don't know how many of the Japanese came to this country under those conditions. When my father came to Hawaii, that was in 1878.

TI: So very, very early in immigration.

PT: Yes. And then the United States had annexed Hawaii. Since indentured laborers were illegal in the United States, Hawaii asked the United States for just one year that these workers be continued on under indentured labor. And as soon as that one year was up, now he's about (fifteen) years old. Then there's a ship waiting for the Japanese because this was a ship for the railroads. And the railroad system in the West had still not been completed. So he worked as a railroad worker and all he had to do was work six months and he's free. If he wants to continue, why, there's a job for him.

TI: And again, how old was he when he did this?

PT: He was about (thirteen or fourteen).

TI: (Thirteen)?

PT: (Thirteen) years old.

TI: (Thirteen) years old he's doing this?

PT: Yes. And then he goes to Stockton, and then contact (people from) the area that you came from.

TI: Oh, the kenjinkai.

PT: (He worked in a barber shop).

TI: Like a janitor?

PT: Janitor, yes, of a (barbershop) in Stockton. So that's what he did during the daytime, and then at night he went to night school and learned to read and write English.

TI: Now during this time, who was your father traveling with?

PT: By himself. [Interruption] But the interesting thing that's missed here is the fact that they were not going to serve in the military. And there was quite a number that came under those conditions. That is why, when it came time for them to go on to marry, what emerged was the "picture bride" system. Otherwise, they couldn't go to Japan. They'd be snatched up. So my mother, who was (eighteen years old), came from Hiroshima and he married her.

TI: So this is interesting. So those who were avoiding conscription, when they left Japan, they had no intent of ever going back to Japan.

PT: They can't.

TI: Right. So this kind of debunks the theory many people said, that people came to the United States to make money, then to return. But in this case, your father had no plans of returning.

PT: No fool will go back, because that means military service. Many of those who came were not middle income people. These were people who lost their farm because of taxing and taxing for Japan to build its military force. And I think this was only in certain prefectures. I would guess Kumamoto, I would guess... well, three or four others.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So you mentioned your mother was a "picture bride." Tell me a little bit about her. What was her name and where was she from?

PT: She was from Hiroshima. They almost pretty much married the women from the same prefecture. They knew each other a little bit in the sense that every Japanese boy has to take kendo or judo. My father took judo, and his teacher was whoever. And people who get injured went to my mother's place, (as her father was what we call sport medicine).

TI: Like a chiropractor?

PT: Something like that. And my mother was that. So (he received a letter from her sister-in-law) after the bomb was dropped -- I'm jumping quite a bit -- all of them had died. And the only person alive was his wife, and she asked for some clothing, material.


TI: So Paul, we were just talking about reasons why people were leaving Japan and coming to the United States. You talked about your father, who came as a boy and was working. And then he, later on, through the "picture bride" process, met your mother and they were married. At the time they got married, what kind of work was your father doing?

PT: After the abolition of slavery, there was system that emerged called... I forgot now, help me out.

TI: Indentured?

PT: Indentured laborer.

TI: Contract work?

PT: Yes, it's a contract. One way is at the end of the season, the guy subsidized all of the expenses and they agreed to half-half or whatever. And the other system is the guy gets paid. I forgot, there's a word for it.

TI: Like sharecropping?

PT: Yes, something like sharecropping.

TI: But also the migrant workers.

PT: Yes. But it's a little bit different. That's what he did up there, working on a sharecropper kind of thing for fruit. So he ran the farm and stayed there all year. And that is where the first son was born. My mother was in the kitchen taking care of a newborn daughter, and the son was running around, he was only about two years old, and fell into the ditch. And he was supposed to be watching him, but he's working in the farm, and he died. I have a picture of him downstairs. Shortly after my sister, I was born. As soon as I was born, they moved out of there. They moved near Sacramento and started this little vegetable farm. He was afraid that he could lose me, too.

TI: Do you recall anything that they did that was, you would say, overprotective? When you say they really watched you, what were some things...

PT: Yes, very much.

TI: So is there an example of that?

PT: Always it was overprotective. "Where are you going?" And, "Don't forget to come back," at certain time. "Tell me exactly where you're going to be."

TI: In some ways, did that cause a... what's the right word? A barrier for you to play with other boys and girls? Did he keep you at home so you weren't able to...

PT: Yes, he did do that. "You don't want to play with those boys." He was very protective. In fact, I didn't make too much of it because when I started grammar school, I went to a two-room grammar school in Selden. It's near Elk Grove, California. But immediately, school was very easy for me and I became the teacher's pet. And every time I'd do something, she'd crack up with laughter. Something like I was in the fourth grade, and she would say, "How do you spell the word 'hitherto'?" And I would say, "Hit-her-to," and then she would crack up with laughter. [Laughs] It was things like that.

TI: So she really enjoyed your wit, your sense of humor?

PT: Yes. And she knew that I was a good student. And then I had to walk about a mile to the two-room school. And on the way back, there are two ways to go. My father was growing strawberries, and I would stop by one of the places there, brought some books from the library, and I would read these books.


PT: These are books of people who came to California, from Central California someplace, and they're very poor. Some of the activity, the author really, really writes it in a way that's way out of line.

TI: So really exaggerated?

PT: Exaggerated, yes. This little girl was probably sexually after, now, she would be sliding on the ground with her butt crack, this kind of writing.

TI: But these were the books you grew up reading? Interesting.

PT: Then I really became a reader. If anything, it was that school was so easy.

TI: While we're on the subject of school, I've done quite a few interviews in that area, not Elk Grove, but Isleton, Walnut Grove...

PT: No, that was east of that.

TI: East of that, but what was interesting is, in many of those small towns, the schools were segregated, that they actually had a school for the Asians and schools for the whites.

PT: Mine was not.

TI: But were you aware of segregation back then?

PT: No.

TI: So describe your classroom. What was the ratio makeup?

PT: There were quite a few Japanese. But most of the Japanese were very good students, and the teachers were... I did not fit. I really didn't fit in any sense of race. I even went to a white man's family, their house, and sometimes they fed me. So, no, I never experienced it. But there was a country store there, and then there would be a leftover newspaper, and I would read that. And I knew this was going on. This was a San Francisco newspaper. And I have, not the newspaper, but I have the group that rode on the boats...

TI: Sure, the longshoremen?

PT: Something like that, yes. I have their books. I wanted to see it because that's one of the places where they pushed anti-Japanese sentiments.

TI: So as a boy you would read these newspapers. Were you able to notice the anti-Asian or anti-Japanese articles?

PT: No. I only knew it in the sense that the next town over, which was Florin, was very heavily Japanese, and they were going to separate schools. In that way, I knew already. The other is my father was a Christian, and he wanted me to go to the Christian church. And I went twice and they didn't pay attention to me, and so that was my last time I ever went to a church. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Going back to your father wanting you to go to a Christian church, explain that again. Why did he want you to go to a Christian church?

PT: Well, he thought that was an important part of becoming an American, that church was very much a part of America. Whereas it may not have been in Japan, it certainly was here. Then I joined the Boy Scouts, and I was the only Japanese on that. So that was the extent of my... but oftentimes I was very alone. I went by myself. I went fishing. Nearby was a river, and every now and then, I ran into an Indian fishing with a pitchfork, I forgot the tribe. And I learned later that the Catholic church befriended them. I use the word loosely, in other words, hired them for free labor. So it was, at the time, the area that was Indian country, and it was taken over by white people. At the bottom line, near the river, they had something that you pull down, they make beer with.

TI: You mean hops?

PT: Hops, yes. The other thing, big time farming, was tomatoes. My father did strawberries like everybody else, and he really was not a farmer.

TI: But I want to go back to your father. So he had you go to the Boy Scouts, this Christian church, so it looked like he wanted you to be comfortable or be part of more the white society?

PT: Yes.

TI: Did he have you do things in the Japanese community like Japanese language school and things like that? Did you do that?

PT: No, he did not encourage me to go to Japanese school, and he did not himself go to any church. Something happened to him. Perhaps his reading of the Bible did not fit in with what was being told, I don't know, but he valued his Bible. The other thing he did -- and most of the time he did this -- in his free time, and even when in camp he did this, was use the Bible to learn to write Japanese kanji with the blank print that you had to punch it up and so forth. He never went to school, so he used the Bible as a library.

TI: So he was self-taught.

PT: He was self-taught, yes.

TI: Was he able to read both Japanese and English or just Japanese?

PT: Yes.

TI: Both.

PT: So he stopped going. And then I started my college. I went to junior college in Sacramento.

TI: Before we go there, there's a story that you told about after your older brother died, he was cremated, and your father kept his ashes. Oftentimes people would have those ashes buried, but those ashes were never buried? He never buried them when he was in this area.

PT: Yes, he carried it with him.

TI: And do you know why he didn't bury the ashes after your brother died?

PT: My guess is that he never really had owned the place. And my other possibility is he wanted to take it back to Japan and bury it there. I'm not sure of that one, but I doubt it. Or there was something else that was going on. He felt forever guilty for the boy dying. He should have been watching him, and somehow maybe he was asking for some kind of...

TI: Not redemption. Forgiveness, maybe?

PT: I think some people do that, and so I bring that up.

TI: So I was curious about that. The other thing that you mentioned was when you were about nine, ten years old, there was a, I'm not sure if it was a friend or somebody, but a photograph that was taken of you. Can you tell me about that, what that was like? Do you remember that? A photograph of you. You mentioned that there were no pictures of you except for maybe as a baby and then maybe later on when you were much older. But then there was one photograph taken of you when you were about nine or ten years old? Do you recall that photograph?

PT: No, sorry.

TI: That's okay. Before we go to your college, what year did you graduate from high school?

PT: Elk Grove High School.

TI: What year did you graduate?

PT: One year before the war started.

TI: Okay, so right before the war. And then after you graduate, then you started junior college?

PT: Yes.

TI: Okay, so you started college.

PT: So I went to one semester and then the war started. I worked as a schoolboy and I vowed that if I ever brought a student in my class, I certainly would not treat them this way. Whenever they finish with a dish, I have to go in, pick it up, bring the other one in. Then wash the dishes, and then I have to wash the floor, and then I could study. In some ways, I wasn't lonely or anything like that. I felt that this is not fun. I only took two classes, German and a science class, I can't think of it.

TI: Chemistry?

PT: No, further down.

TI: Biology? Physics? Mathematics?

PT: Further. Either a W or a V or something like that. It's another one.

TI: And, I'm sorry, where was the junior college? Where was that located?

PT: Sacramento. And I got 'B' grades. Such stupid courses. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Let's talk about December 7, 1941. Do you remember that day and what happened?

PT: Yes, I do, but I didn't take it seriously. So what?

TI: So describe that. How did you first hear about it?

PT: Well, the only thing I knew about that was England, United States and Japan were trying to arrive at an agreement for every big battleship. England can have one, United States can have one, and Japan can have one-half, something like that.

TI: There was a treaty of some type, I can't remember the exact numbers, but you're right. The U.S. and Britain had more ships by treaty -- and these are military warships -- than what Japan could have.

PT: Yes. And when I heard it, I was aware of that, I felt that this is what Japan was going to say. Sooner or later, they're going to do it, and they did it. But I found that also very interesting, that they did not, to the best of my knowledge, no civilians got killed. And it was primarily targeted at military naval people, and I don't think the casualty was that high. But they did do an enormous amount of damage to the ships.

TI: Going back, I just want to clarify, so it's almost like you almost anticipated this.

PT: No, I did not.

TI: But it didn't surprise you?

PT: I was surprised.

TI: You were.

PT: Totally surprised. But I knew that they were bickering about that for quite a while. But what surprised me was that all of us were sent to camp shortly after that. Initially, the people where I lived in Elk Grove, they were not going to take that. And then they made a decision much later that we were going to go, too. So people in Sacramento went already, they were gone, and then they decided. As a result, they took us to Manzanar.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Before we go to Manzanar, do you recall your neighbors, white neighbors, saying anything to you?

PT: Especially one neighbor immediately adjacent to our place. As soon as he learned that my father was not paying any payments on the place -- and my father stopped paying it because he doesn't know what was going to happen. He was about two or three months behind and they cut it. They came with the sheriff, and then he came with a lawyer and came with the real estate people. They had, in the meantime, sold it to this neighbor who had a cow, and they bought it for probably nothing. So he lost everything.

TI: That must have been devastating for your father.

PT: Yes, but, you know, he couldn't maintain the payment anyway. There was no money coming in once he went to camp. So it's interesting what he carried, what we can carry. So he carried his Bible and a tsuri, and he didn't give a shit about the clothing and so forth. [Laughs] Those were the two things that were important, and a tablet. I really didn't care, I didn't have that much clothing. But the other thing they carried was my brother's...

TI: The ashes. During this time, were there any acts of -- maybe kindness is too much -- but any signs of sympathy or anything?

PT: Yes. From one family, and I still see them. The mother is a Bolshevik, and the father has since died. And we're still in touch. The mother has died, and when I first met him, they had that goodbye. When I went to see him, years and years later, I understand how a Bolshevik gets by in this country. What he did was he bought about five thousand acres of land and then planted it with alfalfa. Then he would have some sheep to help keep the place clean, some parts of it, and the other part is all automatized. No horses, it's all power equipment, and so it's just with two or three workers that he managed the place. And become not a millionaire, but very, very comfortable, and you could give your finger to the government. [Laughs] "Try and get me."

TI: But that's interesting because Bolshevik, sort of Communists, it sounds almost capitalist in terms of having the land, your capital, work for you. Were there any conflicts with that, thinking about, "Here I'm a landowner and making money off that"? It seems a little ironic. But this family, so when they heard that you were going to leave, what did this family do?

PT: They were the only ones that came to say goodbye. Then she asked that, "Wherever you go," let her know and she will answer my letter. She did that at Manzanar, and then the next time I was in Camp Shelby in the army, and what do you know, she sends me a Bolshevik book. [Laughs] Slapped it into my box.

TI: Because even at this point, was it dangerous to be associated with the Communist party?

PT: I was sensitive to that. I really did not think that the United States at any time would ever collaborate in any way with Russia. I mean, their systems are so wide apart.

TI: How about this family? So did they come under a lot of pressure or opposition for their political beliefs? Did you see them ostracized or anything like that, or threatened?

PT: Oh, yes.

TI: It's rare to hear.

PT: There were many times they were on the edge of firing, going to war.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Let's go back to Manzanar. So from Elk Grove you are sent to Manzanar?

PT: Yes. We were the last ones, probably one of the last two groups to go to Manzanar, and we all went by bus. There's no train on that side. We were on Block 30 and 31, right on the northeast corner. You been there?

TI: Yes.

PT: Our house was the first apartment next to the... each block had some kind of a person who made, I don't know what he was, but organizer or something like that. I really don't know what the hell he did.

TI: They always had block captain or block something, block leader?

PT: Maybe it was a block captain or something. Yes, that's it. So we had this extreme corner, this is the northeast corner, and there's a machine gun pointing to us. And across the way was the people from Florin. There weren't many Japanese in Elk Grove. So I became friends with one of the Florin guys. We all registered, and when I registered, the guy asked me would I be interested in working as an orderly? I didn't know what an orderly was, and they said, "Working in the hospital." I said, "Sure, why not?" The hospital at that time was just like regular camp, and I was put on the evening shift.


TI: We're at Manzanar, your job is as an orderly in the hospital, you have the night shift, and so that's where we're picking up the story.

PT: This is the woman who was my supervisor. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, so this is a picture taken by Ansel Adams because he was there, and it's your supervisor. She was a very attractive woman.

PT: Isn't she pretty? She was married, goody for her. [Laughs] But it is her younger brother that received...

TI: That was shot?

PT: He was shot and killed in Italy and received the highest...

TI: The Distinguished Service Cross or the Medal of Honor?

PT: Yes.

TI: I see.

PT: And I thought that you would be interested.

TI: Oh, Munemori, yes. That's a Medal of Honor winner.

PT: And so she was on the midnight shift, and I'm on the midnight shift, so we would just tease one another. I'm kind of shy at that point yet, and so she said, "Paul, you look like one of those Hollywood guys," bad guys who carries a gun and so forth. Anyway, so she would tease me. You forgot that you're in a concentration camp, you take care of these little kids, and she taught me a lot. She never used the word that, "You're doing very important work here." She'd just make a joke out of it. And then she said, "If something comes up, just call me," so that's what I did. I think she was married already, I'm not sure. But her sense of humor in this terrible situation -- and it was a terrible situation -- made a tremendous difference to me. And I forever remember her for that.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Well, when you were an orderly, there was an incident that happened, and this was in December '42 around the Manzanar "riot." Can you describe what happened?

PT: That was the night when nine people were shot. Let's see, where to begin? Manzanar had what a sociologist calls an "organic leader." And an "organic leader" is someone who emerges with a very principled, attractive point of view. He wasn't elected, but he would give his life to do what he believes in. And his name was Ueno, and he was continuously on top of the administration. And one of the most important ones was he accused the administration of stealing sugar. And stealing sugar was a federal offense because sugar was rationed.

TI: Yes, rationed.

PT: And he told the FBI that they were stealing sugar. And then, many years later, one of Hansen's students interviewed the people in the community, and one of the women he interviewed said they even got sugar from the camps.

TI: Oh, interesting. So it collaborated the story of this administrator stealing sugar, and then somehow getting it to the community, probably selling it to the community.

PT: It was being sold, yes. And that book I had, and it disappeared on me. And then subsequent books it was not in there. Then I talked to a second hand library, "Can you get one for me?" And there's one way back in New York or someplace, they want $185 dollars for it. [Laughs] I said, "No, I don't think so." But anyway, sugar was being sold. He had told this guy that he had notified the FBI, and then something else was going on. Long before the Japanese were sent to the camp, the Los Angeles JACL had already a relationship with FBI.

TI: And even Naval Intelligence.

PT: Yes, that's in your friend's second, volume two.

TI: This is Professor Roger Daniels.

PT: Yes. And the Los Angeles JACL elected one person to be the person to work with the FBI. That day, two guys, FBI comes, and they're friendly, talking to...

TI: Fred Tayama?

PT: No. The guy who had a couple of restaurants.

TI: Tokie Slocum?

PT: No. One guy was a very bright guy. Who's the other guy who was the editor of the Japanese newspaper in Los Angeles?

TI: I can't remember the name.

PT: But this other guy, he had a couple of restaurants, and I think he sold...

TI: That's okay, but the main point was that these men were very close to the FBI, providing them with information.

PT: He was a businessman, and they had a working relationship with the FBI. And so on that day, the FBI comes, they're talking to these two guys. And then this white guy sees them and he thinks that they're here because he had been messing around with the sugar. He picks up Ueno and drives him into prison outside the camp. And then the people get together, and this is when they demanded that he be brought back.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: But prior to that, the information I have is that these men who were talking with the JACL, some of them got beat up. So they were beat up and the claim was that Ueno was part of the gang that beat up these...

PT: That's right.

TI: Okay.

PT: And then he was sent to prison and they brought him down. I mean, Ueno had every right to beat him up because the JACL was way, way out there. Anyway, Ueno was brought back, they realized he has to be brought back.

TI: And this was demanded by people in camp. They protested, they said he was taken away unfairly, so they brought him back.

PT: Yes. And then there's a whole bunch of people there. And sadly, the people from up your way...

TI: Bainbridge Island?

PT: Bainbridge Island, they were the first ones to be removed, and they were the first ones to be sent to Manzanar. And their housing was right about there, near the jail. And I forgot his name, but he goes out to see what's going on, and then the soldiers started shooting, and he got shot in the back. And I'm working as a hospital orderly, and I stay up with him that night. I go out on midnight, no nurse, nothing, nobody comes to see him. And he says, "I don't want to die. I don't want to die." And the night goes on. I don't know if you ever feel that. Eight hours, just there watching this guy die. I've never seen anybody die before. And I know a little bit about medicine, and I said, "This guy needs oxygen and he needs hydration," and they don't have any.

TI: So he had a gunshot wound into the abdominal area, and had they removed the bullet?

PT: Yes.

TI: But the medical facilities, as you mentioned earlier, were not first rate.

PT: So he lasted at least two or three days. If he had oxygen and so forth, he would have lived. He died, and I've never seen anything like this, and I quit. I was out of it. Then I went home, I was with a bunch of single guys, and then I went home to where the family was. There was a lot of extra housing by that time.

TI: Go back to when he was in the hospital. You mentioned no one came to visit him?

PT: Nobody came in.

TI: So no family members?

PT: No, no, he had family, but they were worn out. They were there all day, and I was on the midnight shift.

TI: I see. So at night no one was there because during the day the family was there.

PT: And I heard some of my high school friends got shot, too. So I went to see them and they said they were okay. It hurts, but they were okay. So I resigned.

TI: Before then, though, while you're sitting with the people who are wounded, what are you thinking?

PT: Me? What was going in my mind?

TI: Yes, what's going on in your mind?

PT: Despair. "What else can they do to us?" But I did feel there's something we can do sooner or later, but I did not know what it was. And some nice person donated books to the camp, and I've always been a reader. So there was a big book like this, and I've never heard of this book before, it's called A Tale of Two Cities. So I read that, and then I read other books, and I would read all night long. My father said, "Paul, why don't you go to sleep? You're going to ruin your eyes." I said, "Yeah, yeah."

TI: But going back to the hospital, so at night sometimes would you read?

PT: No, because I quit.

TI: You quit, though.

PT: I quit.

TI: But going back to that time when this young man was there, what else could you do? Was there anything else you could do for him?

PT: No.

TI: It was just waiting with him.

PT: I didn't talk to anybody.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

PT: And I'm jumping a long ways now, and I'm now at the University of Illinois, and I'm in the second writing class. It's a summer class and the guy says, "Write a page or two on using descriptive writing," and I wrote it. He gave me a 'D'.

TI: So you wrote it, what did you write about?

PT: I wrote about that night.

TI: Okay, so you wrote a description of what happened that night.

PT: A description. And then he gives me a 'D-minus' and kind of an 'F.' They give it for writing style or something like that. And at the bottom he said, "What about the boys in Bataan?" And the only thing you could do was, "Oh, shit. When is this thing going to end?" So I went up to him after class and I said, "What's the meaning of this?" And he said, "Just what it says." So my experience at the University of Illinois was one semester and one day. [Laughs]

TI: We'll come back to your college life, but that's a good story. So you wrote about this night in Manzanar. Up to that point, had you shared that story with other people about what happened that night? Did anyone ask you about the night when this young man died or anything like that?

PT: Yes.

TI: So you talked about it to other people?

PT: There isn't much more to say other than... you can't talk to anyone. They give you this heavy, it was a World War I jacket. And my body just got colder and colder and colder. Normally when something like that happens, you want to go to the john to pee or something. I didn't pee or anything, I just sat there. The only reason I was there is I was required to be there until a certain time. Otherwise, I would have run out of there. And that changed me slowly. For example, there's a line in the Pledge of Allegiance: "One nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all." And I said to myself, "That is a pile of shit," and I never, never salute the flag. I despite this. I don't vote. I used to vote, but I don't vote anymore. The whole thing is a fraud. When the government does something like this to an innocent people and people die like this, how can you reflect the country? So everything I did after that is pretty much a criticism of this.

TI: What occurs to me, one, you lived through this very traumatic experience, that night, and then what made it much worse was when you wrote about it, the professor totally discounted it.

PT: Yes.

TI: And so it's that combination, I think, is even more difficult. Because other people lived through traumatic times, but then for you to then have that experience, not honored or listened to, probably made it more difficult for you.

PT: So what I did is I went to Palestine.

TI: This is much later.

PT: Many, many years later. About ten years ago or twelve years ago I went to Palestine. They have the same fucking thing there. The Jews have concentration camps, only unlike the Japanese, you have to cook for yourself. At least we had toilets that could be treated, but not there. It's all open toilet flowing into the sea there. So I've become anti-Israel, and I argue this with them, too. I tell them, "Don't fuck with me. Why don't you go and look for yourselves?" So it did change me, and it changed me very, very strongly. So I don't vote. This country's just full of shit.

TI: Let's just talk about this. So how is it that a country can do this? Supposedly we're a democracy run by the people, and how is it that the public will allow these things to happen? One, to what happened to Japanese Americans, but then what's happening in Palestine? How is it that the average person -- because the sense I have from you is if they knew the truth, it would be different.

PT: Well, what I did is when I became a professor, I did studies like police use of deadly force. And this is a public health document. For every one white man killed by the police, nine blacks are killed. And maybe the nine blacks created a situation where they would be shot. So I would look at the nine people who died and one of them was stopped by the police. He made a mistake at night, never get out of the car. You get out of the car, the police shot and killed him. And I'm writing these things, and I'm in the school of criminology now, and Reagan becomes the governor of California. And the first thing he did was shut down the school.

TI: So all you're doing, though, is writing the statistics. These are numbers, truth. But going back to a police officer who would shoot someone for just coming out of their car, no threat or anything, is it because the police officer is frightened?

PT: No. Racism. It's absolute racism. Little kid on a bicycle is shot. I took the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, our paper, and the Chicago paper and I just went through it, and then I'd cut it out and then I'd publish it. And I was the editor of the journal, so it goes in there. [Laughs] So that was my career. And that, of course, was the end of the School of Criminology. But that's the award they gave me for it.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

PT: I think I was in a state of shock, and the only way I could deal with that was just to read, most of the time all night long. And during the daytime, in the next house was a guy I went to high school with, Kibei guy. And he was from Florin, I think, and the way I got to him is in high school, in the hallway we had...

TI: Oh, lockers?

PT: Lockers, yes. And he had the lowest one on the bottom, and I had about three up, and I could just figure it out. Then at the very top was a white guy who played football. And this guy who had the lowest one, he had been to Japan. Very quiet guy. And I think sometimes when the Nisei got sent back to Japan, I think he needed some discipline or something like that, so maybe that's why they sent him. Because he was a very quiet guy. And one day this football player pushed his knee on the back of this Kibei guy, and I'm looking around, and then there's a crowd. He's still working over there -- no, he's not there. Then I looked around, and this big football player's just on his ass. He landed somewhere, and he was in pain, and this guy's right back there working on his... and I felt sorry for the football player. [Laughs] And it was a lesson to me that, "Don't mess around with these Kibei guys."

TI: So it sounds like it was judo or something that he went in and just flipped the guy.

PT: Yes. And then we land up in Manzanar together, and his job is to watch the food.

TI: So just like a night guard?

PT: Night watcher for the food. And then he says, "Why don't you come and I'll show you where I work." We went there at midnight, and then he promptly gets a piece of meat and slices it and cooks the piece for him and a piece for me. And I ate it with considerable guilt. Then he asks me once again, "You want to come with me?" and I said, "No thanks." I think he had a right to do it, because he's going to work all night, he's got to stay up at night. But taking meat like that, it bothered me. But it was shortly after that that the papers for military...

TI: So the "loyalty questionnaire"?

PT: Yes, that came along. And there were some very funny kind of stuff that happened on that. I knew a bunch of guys, a group of people from Los Angeles, and I signed "yes-yes." I really felt it. And then some of the other guys did, too. One guy runs back to me and says, "Paul, you've got to help me." I said, "What happened?" He says, "Well, I put 'yes-yes.' My father's going to be disappointed in me, and I want to change it." [Laughs] So I changed it for him. Talked to them and said that he wants to change it.

TI: Oh, so you helped him change from "yes-yes" to "no-no"?

PT: Yes. They're still there. And I said something to the effect that he's the only son in the family, and unless it's absolutely necessary, it's more important to be at home. They bought it.

TI: But what's interesting, when you look at those questions, it doesn't really talk about being with your family or anything, it's about loyalty to the United States. But what you're saying is that your friend changed his answer to be with his family, to stay with his family and not be separated.

PT: Yes. But he said, "Okay."

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

<Begin Segment 12>

PT: Some of the Los Angeles guys, many of them were in groups. And I forgot what the name of their group was, but they would introduce me to their groups. And one of the oldest ones was called...

TI: And when you say "group," it's kind of like a gang? Or what do you mean by group?

PT: No, they were athletic groups.

TI: Okay.

PT: And one group, one of the oldest ones was organized by a woman who saw these boys just running around and she organized them. And then the only one that I thought was being very un-Japanese was the San Pedro boys. They called themselves the San Pedro Yogores, and it didn't matter whether it was Japanese or what. They would play baseball, and this guy gets a hit and runs to first base. And the first baseman has his hand out looking at him, and he'll aim right at his ankle and break it. And I saw that, and I said, "Jesus Christ, that's sick." And it is sick. Why take it out on one another? That's how angry they were. They lost all sense of decency. And I can understand that. They were told, "You've got to move out in two days." But when you think about the Bainbridge guys, "You've got to get out today," and you didn't see that kind of thing with them.

TI: Let's go back to that, that's interesting. So this group, you're almost saying it's to be expected. They had to leave in two days and so you weren't surprised. But yet, my sense is you didn't see that with other groups.

PT: Yes.

TI: So why is that? Why did this group stand out in that way?

PT: You mean the San Pedro guys? Well, they called themselves the Yogores, so they're going to play out that role, I think. They were angry and Japanese or no Japanese, take it out. And then this guy has probably a broken ankle or something, and I said, "How sick." And then there was a lot of Hawaiian guys and they're older. And one of the Hawaiian guys said, "Are you a catcher by any chance?" And I said, "Yes, I used to catch and play third base." So I played softball with them, and we lost most of the games, but that didn't matter.

TI: And characterize the Hawaiians. So these are young men from the islands, and so how were they different than, say...

PT: They're older. And they were there for work, many people from Hawaii came to work.

TI: I see. So they didn't come from the islands, they were on the West Coast.

PT: And they were older or in their thirties already. So I played softball with them, and they took me to the bachelor quarters. One of the guys gave up his housing, and they had a casino there. And so that's where I learned gambling. I never went gambling before, but I knew a little bit about craps. But they played the craps differently. They called it Shi-go-ro, "four five and six." But if you throw a six it doesn't mean that you win. Now, the other person who covered your bet, they get to throw the dice. That's the difference. The other thing is they had this card game, and I think the Issei played this game called...

TI: Hanafuda?

PT: Hana. And you could win with a low card as well as with a high card. And this is where they were playing for money. Then also, they were covering horse races. They agreed that they would be based upon the newspaper from the next day, and this was going on. So I think very few people knew that gambling was going on.

TI: It's kind of interesting because most of the stories I've done don't talk about the bachelors quarters, so this is kind of a different area. So besides gambling, what else went on? Any other vices like alcohol? Did they do a still or anything like that?

PT: Yes. Alcohol was in the one in north California.

TI: Tule Lake?

PT: Tule Lake. That's in a couple of books I've read, they did it.

TI: But at Manzanar you didn't see any alcohol?

PT: I didn't see any. I can't see anyone bringing it in.

TI: But then in some of the camps they actually made their own.

PT: I'm sure they did, sake kind of thing. Then I worked for the newspaper, and I did primarily layout work. Then pretty soon I started writing little stuff, and I have one down below that I'll show you where I had finally made one of the editors and then also a column there that says, "I am leaving for so-and-so," and I left in June.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: Going back to the newspaper, as an editor, were there any restrictions on what topics could be written about?

PT: Not that I know of. Not that I know of.

TI: How about just in terms of common practice? If you wanted to be critical against the administration, were those kind of articles allowed?

PT: Nobody dared. And the reason is each issue was reviewed by the administration before it was printed out.

TI: Okay, so you all knew that, that it was going to be reviewed. So it was like maybe having a teacher read something.

PT: And this is after the "riot." But I would like to go back a little bit about where I was, working as an orderly. Dr. Goto was the sole surgeon, and I don't know if you want to write this or not, but he did a lot of appendectomy.

TI: So removals of appendixes.

PT: And then the FBI came and they wanted to Dr. Watanabe, not Goto. I think Watanabe was upset and called the FBI in because I think Goto was doing abortions.

TI: Oh, I see.

PT: And when he was transferred to the other camp near Salt Lake...

TI: Utah, Topaz?

PT: Topaz. I heard that guys who were working with Goto said that he was continuing to do them. So that's why he was transferred out. He was transferred out along with all the...


PT: JACL people.

TI: So at the time, were you aware of -- I mean, you worked as an orderly for a while -- of things like abortions?

PT: Uh-huh.

TI: So that was, I guess, young women getting pregnant.

PT: Yes, I just dismissed it. He can do social work, too, if he wants to. [Laughs] But I couldn't prove it.

TI: Again, that's something you don't see ever written about, things like abortions in camp.

PT: No. But if you want, I'll give you a copy of the FBI report.

TI: Yes, afterwards I'd like to look at those things.

PT: But they don't use the word. Why would the FBI come and talk to one of the doctors but he would not talk to the head doctor who was this guy or his wife? His wife was a doctor, too.

TI: Or why is the FBI even dealing with this issue.

PT: It suggests to me that they called the FBI because they felt maybe that's one of their, what is it that they swear when they become doctors?

TI: Oh, the Hippocratic Oath?

PT: Yes, it may be in there.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: You were talking about you were at the newspaper, and you wrote the column "I Am Leaving." So let's start from there. So where did you go after Manzanar? What happened next after you wrote the column? Where did you go?

PT: Nothing that I know of.

TI: But you left Manzanar after that?

PT: Yes.

TI: Then where did you go?

PT: I went with a very well-known Issei guy. Her brother was well-known and his wife was well-known. And he said to me -- he drove the ambulance and I was an orderly, so that's how we got to know the other. And he asked me whether I wanted to go with him to Iowa to go to a trade school. He wanted to fix small tools like typewriters and stuff like that, and I just wanted to get out. So we went together, they gave us twenty-five dollars, I guess. [Laughs] But twenty-five dollars got us all the way to Iowa. I wasn't the least bit interested in it, so he went, he said that, "They're closed for the duration." And right next to the bus station was a little restaurant, and we're having our lunch, and here's this sort of good-looking white woman, and you could kind of see through her sweater. And I'm looking at her, and she says, "Where are you boys from?" and we said, "California." "What are you guys doing here?" I said, "We're looking for work." And then we checked out and waited for the bus station right next to it. And she and her friend come in and she focuses on me and she says, "Why don't you stay here? There's lots of jobs here." In my mind, "Should I? Should I not?" [Laughs] And I said, "No, I shouldn't do this."

TI: So you wanted to stay loyal to your friend and go with him?

PT: Yes. So she'll find someone, and I shouldn't feel sorry for her. So then we went to...

TI: Cleveland?

PT: Cleveland, yes. And his brother, that's the reason we went there is his brother was one of the persons running the office there, and his wife. Two of the probably significant older Niseis, I wish I could remember their name.

TI: That's okay. Later on when you get the transcript, you can just write in the names.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Before we continue, I wanted to go back and ask about your father. When you decided to leave camp, did you have a discussion with your father about that and leaving camp, and what his state was at that point?

PT: He was out of it. He was really out of it and never went out. Only at night when my mother brought fruit to him. He was in a state of shock. And to jump up a little bit, I came out of the army and then maybe a day or two afterwards, he went into the County Hospital and I forgot what it was, but he had surgery and he died. He was sixty-two years old, and my mother died shortly after that, fifty-eight years old.

TI: Was it the camp experience or the experience of losing his farm? What was harder on him?

PT: Well, I think it's more like I see my doctor once a year. It was that kind of thing. When you're poor, you don't see a doctor unless you have to see a doctor.

TI: But your father, you mentioned in camp he was "out of it," he wouldn't go out. What caused that?

PT: I never thought about that. I think he left Japan because he was not going to serve in the military.

TI: No, not that far. The question is --

PT: So given that, he comes to this country feeling that he will never be harassed in this way. And the military comes by and takes his land and then imprisons him. I mean, everything he believed in and everything he thought would be an improvement turned out to be a disaster. He had no options, he didn't know what to do. He could very well have committed suicide at that time, but he didn't. There have been cases at Manzanar where the father took a kitchen knife, killed his wife, killed his daughter, and then cut himself and died. There were a lot of things that happened that there no way of getting into it, stuff that no one has written. Because for some people, there's no place to go, there's no future. And I'm thinking, "Why would he kill his kid and then his wife, then him?" I don't know. You have to talk to a psychologist about that.

TI: But back to your father, you're saying he left Japan with no intent of going back, and then his new country essentially turned its back on him also.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So let's go back to your life. You mentioned that your father died right after military service. Tell me a little bit about your military service. What did you do there?

PT: What?

TI: What was your military service? What did you do?

PT: Well, I think I told you that I was sent to Camp Shelby and went through basic training. But there's something different for me and another guy. He was from Denver, he was not in the camp, and he was interested in going into medical school, too. And both of us took German, and we were pulled out of basic training in the afternoon. And we would study the German maps, and then we'd study German weapons. And that's why I have these German weapons. [Laughs] No, my daughter took it away from me. [Laughs] I don't know what happened to him, but the first sergeant came up to me and says, "Roll them up," and then I was going to be transferred. Then I was transferred to Fort Snelling.

TI: Fort Snelling.

PT: And it wasn't until after the war when they gave me my discharge, at that time, after the discharge, I looked at it and it said "expert on these weapons" and so forth. And then they gave me my IQ test, and I got something like 145.

TI: So 145.

PT: And then I said, "Shit, I'm a genius." [Laughs] Not really. But college material. So I started at the University of Illinois.

TI: I'm curious, going back to when you looked at your record and you see 145 for IQ, does that change you in terms of how you look at yourself?

PT: Me?

TI: Yes. Did you look at that and...

PT: No. I didn't know the meaning of it. Because I already started junior college, and I was able to handle it. But what it did do for me, and much, much later now, is I decided to go to Stanford, and I was very confident that I could handle it. And I did.

TI: So you had a healthy self-esteem, I mean, you knew you were smart, that you could handle a top college.

PT: Well, everything was easy. I'm not a genius, but what happened at my short time at the University of Illinois, in sharp contrast to UC Berkeley, is that there are different styles of writing. They talk about descriptive writing, argumentative writing, and there's about four or five different kinds of writing. Then here at Berkeley they teach you one of the great writers like a British guy who we studied and that's it. [Laughs] There is no "writing lessons," that there are different kinds of writings. And if you want that, you learn it yourself.

TI: So Berkeley was more free-flowing in terms of the writing style versus Illinois, which was more structured.

PT: Yes. So I did okay except for that one class. Basically I'm a 'B' student, not an 'A' student.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So you talked about leaving Illinois after that class. What did you do after that? After Illinois, what did you do?

PT: My father was dying so I stuck around and I worked making milk bottle tops. It's got wax on it, and I worked the night shift. It's clean work for the first time, all you have to do is run the machine and feed it with wax and so forth. Then I get off at night and in Chicago they have the...

TI: Elevated train.

PT: Elevated train, and get on that and I'd go downtown, and it's warm. And sometimes I'll go to a place and have a couple of drinks and just listen to jazz. I didn't want be with anybody, just want to be with myself. And then just before you go to this one place, there's another jazz place. The only instrument is the guitar. He's the guy that makes the guitar the instrument. I don't know if you watch some of these shows or not, the guy would be playing the guitar and maybe somebody would be hitting the drum, that's it. And I was astonished that this guy was doing that. Later on I remembered him, he was doing beautiful music just with the guitar. T-Bone Walker. And I decided I would go to school. My father died and my sister would take care of my mother, and she was married, so I got on a bus and came to Berkeley. I didn't know anyone in Berkeley, but I knew how to survive without any money, that is become a schoolboy again, and I did it for just about one semester. And then this big chunk comes to me, over five hundred dollars. They didn't pay me for...

TI: Oh, the factory work?

PT: They didn't pay me for the first semester.

TI: Oh, for the GI Bill?

PT: Yes. For the first time in my life, I stayed in an all-Japanese guys, right across the street for the university. And we had rooms for something like twenty dollars a month, but we also had a kitchen. And there was one upper class Japanese guy that says, "What are we having? Rice again?" [Laughs] So we said, "What's the matter? Aren't you Japanese?" So I met another guy, a loser like me, and we learned to play...

TI: Golf?

PT: Golf, and there was that thing very close here, and you didn't have to pay for it. For students it's free. So we played golf in the morning and then in the afternoon I gambled, played poker. I wasn't serious about it, just a 'C' student. And I got one 'D', so I had to make up for it somehow, so there was a guy named Timothy Leary. Timothy Leary saw us playing softball and he says, "How do you guys want to play?" and he'll be the manager and play on the Oakland league. And we did; we lost every game. [Laughs] And then we were in a car, riding together, and he said, "What are you majoring in?" and I said, "Golf." [Laughs] "But seriously, I don't have a major." So he says to take his class and I did.

TI: And what class was that? What class was he teaching?

PT: It was a...

TI: Psychology?

PT: Psychology, yes. He wasn't the teacher but he was the...

TI: Like a TA?

PT: TA, yes. So he gave me a 'B' so that brought me back to a 'C' average.

TI: Oh, that's funny. So Timothy Leary helped you out.

PT: He didn't know that, but he helped me out. And then gradually his friendship turned me around.

TI: But going back to him, so what was he like? When you say "friendship," how would you describe Timothy Leary in terms of your relationship with him?

PT: He was genuinely concerned about me. This is before his drug years. And he also was interested in the fact that I was in a concentration camp. He didn't ask a lot of questions but he did ask, "Do you think you lost interest in becoming an academic?" Little questions like that. "In what was has that hurt you?" It did hurt me in the sense that I didn't give a shit anymore. In many ways, he turned me around. He doesn't know that, but he did. Then he said, "What is it that you're interested in?" and I said, "I don't know." So I started taking courses in criminology. They didn't have criminology there, they called it something else, it was under the Political Science Department. And there was a guy who was a visiting professor. You remember him? This white guy from the Middle West that turned me on to criminology? Anyway, he took an interest in me and invited me to his house to meet his wife and have dinner. So I became an 'A' student again. [Laughs]

TI: And so what did you graduate in? What was your major?

PT: I graduated in psychology because I had more credits there, just barely. And then I went to work.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: And then what kind of work did you do after graduating?

PT: I became a prison guard at San Quentin.

TI: Now, why did you choose that? That's an interesting choice.

PT: I don't know. There was something I was interested in, maybe because I was imprisoned. Maybe, I don't know. And I was on a midnight shift, and then there was no bridge at that time so we had to ride a ferry, go back and forth. I was going to be the first one off, so I didn't go up to the coffee place and I just leaned against my car and just looking at the terrain. And then that's where Standard Oil unloads. And then this deckhand comes up to me and says, "During the war I used to deliver petroleum to the Germans in North Africa." I said, "What?" And that turned me around like that. This is the country that put us in concentration camps? This fucking country is sending soldiers over to Europe and corporations are selling gasoline to the Germans. Think about that. So there's the military, politicians, and there's business. And business as business. So that's one of the reasons I don't vote. [Laughs]

TI: So let me make sure I understand. So you have a corporation, Chevron, multinational, during the war, aiding the Germans during the war. And this gentleman actually helped do that.

PT: And downstairs I have three books on how America worked with the Germans, and the others are Ford Motor Company, and the other is IBM and gasoline.

TI: Chevron. Interesting.

PT: So what would you do, suddenly learning something like this, what happened to us? And then here this great country, "one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all." That's a pile of shit.

TI: You say that, but yet you stayed in the country and you went on to get your advanced degree at Stanford, and a long career as a professor at Berkeley. So in some ways, that's kind of like staying in the system, isn't it? You stayed in the country doing these things and researching.

PT: Well, the kind of research I did led to when this guy was the governor, he shut down the school.

TI: So Ronald Reagan was the governor at that point. So you were at the School of Criminology at Berkeley when they had a School of Criminology. And because of your work and your outspokenness, they shut down the school.

PT: Yes. And then in the meantime I'm doing consultation on police violence. And then he becomes the President, and the first thing he does is cut it off. Then I was out of a job.

TI: Did he know your name?

PT: Well, I'm sure he did. Perhaps not by name, but his staff would know who are the guys that got to be cut.

TI: So let's talk about some of the, what he would deem "controversial things" you did while you were at Berkeley. So when you're at Berkeley, what were some of the things you were doing that would lead to the shut down?

PT: I was criticizing the police killing of blacks. The first story I wrote was a Los Angeles case, and she had not paid her gas bill. And her husband had died of that illness that kills blacks.

TI: Sickle cell?

PT: Sickle cell anemia just three months before. And then Christmas is coming along, and this is the worst time for poor women. They don't have any money to buy presents for their little kids. And so she didn't pay for December so she could have this dinner for her two little kids and give them their presents. And then this is on January 2nd, and the guy comes to turn off her gas because she didn't pay. And she says, "I have the money, I have the money. Please don't cut it." And this guy says, "My job is to cut off your gas." So she got a rake and just lacerated his arm. Then he went back and told his boss what happened, and he said, "Get your hand bandaged and go to the police." And two policemen came, and there she is with her purse, always has the purse on one arm, and she has this axe or something, just cutting the branches of the trees. The police drive up, they both get out, one of them is black, and said, "Drop the knife." And she just keeps on doing it, and they empty their guns and kill her. They have the autopsy and then, guess what? Within her purse, she had paid for it during the time that the police were coming. Then the person that got it was a Japanese woman in Los Angeles who went to the police department and sent me the report, and then I published it. It went all across the country.

TI: So you didn't make the police look good.

PT: [Laugh] You can bet that all the police were pissed off as all hell. And you can also bet that the police organization, national one, they got pissed off. So anyway, that's what I did.

TI: But more than that story, I read your article, "A Garrison State in a 'Democratic' Society," and this one is more statistical. It's very straightforward, where I think at the time there were claims that the number of police deaths were going up. But you showed that proportionally, there were no changes, and in fact, the number of deaths caused by the police were going up all the time, and furthermore, it was race based between whites and blacks. To me, that seems to be a powerful indictment against the police and what was happening trend-wise. It was pretty astounding, the statistics. But yet, it was all numbers. It was very statistically clear what you were showing. So were these the kind of things that the Reagan administration, they were opposed to and that's why they shut down the school?

PT: Sure.

TI: The astounding thing to me as I read these articles is they don't seem that radical. I mean, they seem like what, fifty years later, people kind of know or understand.

PT: Well, I have to tell you that I have no particular love of the black community. But I do think that they do deserve clean policing, and that's what I was criticizing. You don't shoot someone like that, because they could very well do that to me or to you. For some reason... maybe the Japanese keep their cars more in conditions that they don't go speeding, they don't have flat tires on the highways and so on and so forth, so maybe they don't, as a result, have that much encounter with the police, possibly. I don't know.

TI: And yet, when you talk about your work, black organizations sort of want to be associated closely with you. People like the Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam, things like that, because your work helped to shine a light on this problem that was confronting them. Any interesting stories about your relationship with black organizations?

PT: In fact, I did have a relationship with the Black Panthers.

TI: And what was that relationship?

PT: The City of Berkeley put on a...

TI: Referendum?

PT: Referendum to divide Berkeley into three sections, and a black section, there was a center section, and university section and then there would be the white residential section. Then there should be no white police officers in a black section, and there should be mixed officers in the other two sections. And I supported that. And a British guy, he supported that. He was fired after that. [Laughs] For me, I was tenured, so they couldn't fire me, so they closed the school.

TI: Oh, interesting. Well, they closed the school, but then you moved over the School of Education?

PT: Yes, that's right.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: I'm curious, during this time, did you have any contact with the Japanese American community?

PT: Japanese, yes.

TI: And how did they view you and your work?

PT: They never said anything. One of the leaders of the Asian American Studies movement was an Asian guy, Chinese, and he was one of my students. So whenever something happened, he asked me whether I would be the lead teacher. So when it first got started, he organize this event called the Yellow Symposium, and that's the beginning of Asian American Studies. And I gave the talk, and there must have been about five or six hundred people there, and that's the beginning of Asian American Studies.

TI: So this is late '60s, like '69?

PT: No, early '60. January '60.

TI: And then later on, I remember hundreds of Asian American Studies...

PT: Yes, I took little cases here and there. But after the School of Criminology was closed, I was pretty much out of it.


TI: I want to walk around your house and look at some of your things, but before we do that, any other issues or topics you want to talk about before we walk around the house? Do you want to talk about your current work, anything about what you're currently working on?

PT: Yes. I think the reason for the camps still remains open. No one has address the question of why. Why the Japanese? And the answer is very easy: assimilation. In other words, white America did not want Asians to be marrying white women. But I would like to put it the other way: white women wanted to marry Asian guys. [Laughs] They're more stable. Isn't that right? [Laughs]

TI: So the thinking being that putting them in camps would keep them separate. That's the premise?

PT: Yes. Please read the one The Potato King. See, he has five thousand acres of potatoes in Stockton, and he has another one thousand acres in Oregon. And what he has to do is cross-fertilize the potatoes so you don't get big potatoes. So he's suggesting this as a...

TI: Like a metaphor.

PT: Yes, metaphor of intermarriage.

TI: You showed me that passage where they asked him about intermarriage, and he brings up the potatoes.

PT: But he says, "Yankee women are too expensive." [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: [Looking at photographs] So Paul, earlier in the interview we talked about your family. And so tell me who is in this picture.

PT: This is my father and my mother, and that's my older sister and that's me.

TI: And so about how old are you right there?

PT: Looks like less than one. Probably five months or six months.

TI: So this would be in the Auburn area?

PT: 1923.

TI: I think you mentioned Auburn.

PT: It's at Auburn.

TI: It's a very elegant photograph. And then this next picture...

PT: You could see I'm sad and not very happy. I just left the University of Illinois, and this is in Chicago and I'm just about ready to leave for California.

TI: So this is right after that story where you dropped out because that one writing instructor... So next I want to talk about some of your current work. We talked a little bit about The Potato King and Mr. Shima. What you did was you actually went to the U.S. House of Representatives, they had hearings about the Japanese immigration.

PT: This is going to terminate all Japanese coming to this country.

TI: Right. So this led to the 1924 Immigration.

PT: '24 or '20?

TI: Well, this is 1920, but then 1924 was when the Immigration Act happened. And so this was kind of that story you told me, so this was at Congress, and they asked Mr. Shima about interracial marriage.

PT: They don't come right out and say "interracial marriage." They call it "assimilation."

TI: Well here Mr. Raker says, "From a racial point of view, you are opposed to the intermarriage of Japanese with Americans, are you not?" And then Mr. Shima says, "I?" and Mr. Raker said, "Yes." Mr. Shima says, "I don't care about." And then he keeps pushing him, and then whether or not it's a good or bad thing, and this where he brings up the metaphor about potatoes and how the better crops are the ones that get mixed. So for your current work, you're actually going back to the source documents, things happening in the '20s, and this sense of, in some ways, this fear of Japanese and Chinese mixing with the white race. Which brings up another article you showed me. This is about the intelligence tests.

PT: Intelligence tests in...

TI: Vancouver, British Columbia.

PT: Vancouver, yes.

TI: So this is dated 1926, and tell me, what did this article talk about?

PT: It came from educational psychology, but the point that's being made here is the Chinese and Japanese are smarter than white kids. And the commentary is very, very interesting, wouldn't you say?

TI: So I'll read it. So the final line of this article is: "The presence of so many clever, industrious, and frugal aliens constitutes a political and economic problem of the greatest importance."

PT: So this is a problem for white America. [Laughs] And this becomes an issue all the way. And I think that's the reason, when the war broke out, we were imprisoned. This goes on and on, even the Depression, it goes on. And then Stanford University has also studied the Japanese, and up and down the state, the Japanese are just as smart as white kids, if not smarter. That's the picture. Early on in the books they would say, "Nisei wants to go to college to become a doctor." And they would say, "Well, being a doctor is the same as becoming a farmer, so you should become a farmer instead."

TI: So these are like high school counselors?

PT: No, no, these are findings at the college level. This is a Stanford publication, and they are suggesting to college, high school advisors, that they should not even think about becoming a doctor. That you could do just as well at being a farmer.

TI: Even though they score really high on intelligence tests, the dexterity, all those things, they would point them away from some of these fields.

PT: Yes.

TI: Interesting. And this is all documented. This is all written papers.

PT: So the point I'm trying to make is that much of the books on what happened is a discussion of the military and a discussion of the governor and so forth, but this stuff is working way, way back. [Laughs]

TI: Well, I'm going to look forward to your work and your book. The last thing I wanted to finish up with is, I walk around the house, and in these little nooks and crannies, I see these little certificates and awards. I just wanted to have to explain some of these to me. This is from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, 2007. So describe this. Where did this award come from, and what was this for?

PT: Well, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency deals with what the criminologists call delinquents. And then the person who was managing this thing was also a professor. And the real reason he gave it to me is because I lent him some money to buy his first house. [Laughs]

TI: [Laughs] And so criminology... another area that you've been recognized is Asian American Studies. During the interview we talked about how you had, in the '60s, pretty much helped start Asian American Studies.

PT: Well, it started out with one of my criminology students, Chinese guy, his name is Greg Mark. He himself has a very interesting history because they didn't come here like many of the Chinese came here. His father or his mother were in art. At that time they just act it out, there's no music or anything like that, you have to play with it.

TI: Oh, Chinese theater?

PT: Chinese theater, yes. So his family is highly looked upon in both San Francisco and Oakland. So when he first married, he invited all of his...

TI: Not tongs?

PT: No, I don't know what it is. Anyway, I'm sitting in the front with my wife and all these invited people. And these members of the group are all sitting back together, they're all single men, and very stoneish and just nodding their head and that's it. That's the first time I've ever attending a formal marriage like that. Anyway, because he was my student and because he got his doctorate, he's becoming a PhD? She laughed at him. She was an upper-class Chinese, and that didn't go anywhere. And then he married a half Filipino woman and had a child. That did not last because she was fucking some other guy. And now, believe it or not, he married a doctor. And this doctor has set aside her practice to be the mother of the two little kids. We just saw them very recently.

TI: Okay, there's one more thing I want to show, this is the last one. And I like this one, this is from the U.S. Congress, Congressional Recognition presented to you signed by Congressman Dellums. And what I'm guessing is you really sort of increased dialogue on some very controversial issues. You were the edge that kind of, your work, that got discussions about police violence and things like that. Tell me about this.

PT: The blacks were very concerned about the police killing so many blacks. And he's supposed to represent this area, and the case I had in mind was a police officer stopped a black guy who was some kind of science thing. It was about five or six o'clock in the winter, just before dinner, it's dark. He made the mistake of stepping out of the car, and the police came and shot and killed him. There's just too many of that, and nothing happens to the police officer. All he has to say is, "I thought he had a gun in his hand." And this guy knows it, so he gave me this.

TI: Because what you did is you helped shine a light on some of these issues.

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