Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Lloyd K. Wake Interview
Narrator: Lloyd K. Wake
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: April 7, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-wlloyd-01

<Begin Segment 1>

MN: Okay, today is April 7, 2011, Thursday. We are at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco. We will be interviewing Reverend Lloyd Wake. Dana Hoshide is on the video camera, and I will be interviewing. My name is Martha Nakagawa. Now, Reverend Wake, can we start with your father's name?

LW: Yempei Wake, Y-E-M-P-E-I.

MN: And your mother's name?

LW: Hisayo.

MN: And she is also a Wake, maiden name?

LW: Yes.

MN: Can you explain, share with us why she's also a Wake?

LW: There are a lot of Wakes in that particular area. She grew up in Okayama, near Okayama, which is, what is now Okayama city, and seems to be a gathering place for the Wake clan from ancient days, so she was also a Wake. I'm assuming that she was always a Wake, but we know that her mother died, her parents died at an early age and was cared for by another family, so I don't know if she adopted the adopters' name or remained as a Wake even though her parents died.

MN: And both of your parents are from Okayama prefecture?

LW: Yes.

MN: Now when did your father come to the United States?

LW: It was in 1906.

MN: And where did he land and what did he do?

LW: He eventually, after coming into California, San Francisco, he moved down to Fresno, California, Central Valley.

MN: Do you know what he did there?

LW: Well, he started out, he was a young man at that time, so he was looking for almost any kind of job, and as I understand it he, he was a janitor in one of the department stores, and later he became a, almost like an important young man in a clothing store, Henry Dermer Clothing Store. That was something I learned later in life, but he did whatever job was available to young immigrants from, from Japan.

MN: But he must've been doing pretty well, because he decided to get married a few years later.

LW: Yes. He... I checked the records and they were officially married in Japan two years before she came and came to San Francisco, and they were married here in San Francisco by, as a U.S., I guess a U.S. marriage, even though I think they were officially married two years prior, in Japan.

MN: Now, when you say officially married, that's to register in the koseki, the family register?

LW: Yes.

MN: And so you said they came to the United States and also had a marriage ceremony?

LW: Yes.

MN: What kind of marriage ceremony was this?

LW: It was in the Christian church, in the Methodist church here in San Francisco. The Methodist church began ministry rather early to particular, specifically for Japanese immigrants. At that time they were primarily men, so along with the church, they ran an English language school along with the church services.

MN: Do you know if your parents were Christians at that time?

LW: They must've been. Even though I did not check it out, I assume that they were influenced in some way by Christian missionaries in Japan, had some kind of contact so that when they came here to the U.S. they continued that relationship.

MN: Do you know if they, either your father or mother went through Angel Island?

LW: As far as I know they did not go through Angel Island.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

MN: Now you were also talking about your father, after he got married he was no longer in Fresno. Where did he go after that?

LW: He went to the town of Reedley, which is about twenty-four miles from Fresno. It was still in the Central Valley, a farming area.

MN: And what did he do in Reedley?

LW: He was able to get a piece of land, even, I believe his, his decision to purchase that land began while he was still in Fresno so that when his wife came they were able to go to Reedley directly and began farming that piece of, that forty acre piece.

MN: Now this was very unusual, what you were sharing about there were other Nikkei neighbors, and who were they and how many acres of property was it together?

LW: Yes, it, Reedley seemed to be very attractive to immigrant families from Japan, and my father had a piece of land that was forty acres of a, I don't know what they called it, but it was a hundred and sixty acres and they were all contiguous to each other. Every one of his neighbors in that had a forty piece of land contiguous to each other, so they were all neighbors. They were all Japanese immigrant farming laborers.

MN: And were they all from Okayama prefecture?

LW: No, they came from various places. I don't know which province, but I don't know, I know that they were immigrant, they came about the same time from Japan.

MN: Now, what did everybody farm?

LW: They, my father farmed grapes and figs. The Nakamura family had grapes. Actually, the other three families, Kitahara, Nakamura, and Okamura, all started out farming grapes.

MN: But your father was the only one who also had figs in addition to grapes.

LW: Yes, he seemed to be pretty innovative when it came to farming. He tried different things, and along with the grapes he grew figs.

MN: Now, your parents, how many children did they have?

LW: My parents had eight children.

MN: And where are you in that hierarchy?

LW: I was number five.

MN: And what year were you born?

LW: 1922.

MN: And where were all the children born?

LW: They were all born in a little farmhouse in Reedley that my mother and father built as soon as they were able to start building, so they were all born there in that little farmhouse.

MN: And who delivered the children?

LW: This is a very interesting, I'm very proud of my father and I'm proud of my birth certificate because my birth certificate says, the question, where the question is placed "delivered by" it's my father's signature. And I found out that he delivered every one of us, all eight of us children. Recently I checked with my youngest sister and asked her, "What appears on your birth certificate where it says 'delivered by'?" She said, well, it's my dad's name, Yempei Wake.

MN: Now what is your birth name?

LW: Keigo, K-E-I-G-O if you spell it in English.

MN: And were you named after somebody?

LW: I understand that since my dad liked both American and English history he knew about a statesman, I believe, by the name of Lloyd George of England, and he was proud of Lloyd George, so I understand that he, I think he named me after his first name, Lloyd, so that's how I acquired the name of Lloyd.

MN: So on your birth certificate you also have an Anglo, Anglican name on there?

LW: Yes, Lloyd.

MN: Did all the children have Anglican names?

LW: Yeah, every one of us had both English and Japanese names.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

MN: Now you were born in Reedley and you grew up in Reedley. Can you tell us what is so unique about this community?

LW: Unique about Reedley, it was good, must've been very good farming area. There, I think there were about two or three hundred families that came to that area, that is Japanese immigrant families, so we had quite a, a vibrant Japanese American community made up of immigrants. So while we're going through school, even from the first grade, we always had classmates who were Japanese Americans.

MN: Now, Reedley, I guess what I was thinking about, in terms of the Mennonites there, that there was, in talking to you there wasn't a lot of hostility in if you can share that community and how it interacted with the Japanese Americans.

LW: Yes, the Mennonite Brethren community was very strong in Reedley and Dinuba, those two areas, but the Mennonites seemed, I believe when they moved from Kansas out west they settled in Reedley in the Central Valley. They were very devout Christians and so they, they were very cordial, friendly to anybody, but especially the, we felt that they were especially cordial and kind to the Japanese Americans.

MN: Now, yourself, when did you start helping out on the farm?

LW: As soon as I was able to. Even carrying things as much as able to, taking care of some of the livestock, chickens, and caring for the livestock, but from the very beginning it was expected that any farm, any young man who grew up on the farm was expected to share in the farm work.

MN: So what was the busiest season for yourself?

LW: The biggest...

MN: The busiest. Is it summertime?

LW: Yes, the busiest, busiest season was harvest. That's when the figs and grapes ripened and were ready for harvest. The rest of the time it was all cultivating and getting, taking care of the dormant grapevines and figs, but harvest, soon as spring began we were getting ready for the harvest.

MN: Now your father had forty acres. That's, that's a large piece of property. Did he have to hire extra farmhands?

LW: As I remember, in my early days we hired very little extra help, and in the, during the harvest season we may have fired, hired a few helpers, but by and large us eight children were expected to share in the harvest, so we had a, we had a very important role as children in, on the farm.

MN: Now if your family had hired extra help, did your mother have to cook for them?

LW: No. We didn't have that many extra, as I remember, my mother never cooked for any hired help. She had enough on her hands cooking for us children as we, as we were growing up.

MN: Your father is growing grapes. Did he ever make his own wine?

LW: No, he never grew wine grapes. All the grapes were for table or for raisins, and so being a Christian and alcohol was taboo for Christian families, he was never into growing, growing grapes for wine.

MN: Did he make it for his own personal drinking?

LW: Beg your pardon?

MN: Did he make a few for his own personal drinking?

LW: [Laughs] Oh yes. In the growing, in the vines that were growing for raisins and for table, I call them maverick vines that a few of them produced other than the Muscats and Thompsons. My dad would go out and when they were ready for harvesting, when they were ripe, he would pick the grapes from these few vines, the maverick vines, and bring them into the barn and make his own wine.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

MN: Now, I know on the farm it was very common to have a outside ofuro. Did your farm have one of those?

LW: Oh yes, that was, I know that that was one of the first things that my, my dad and mom built so that they could have the, enjoy the ofuro.

MN: Who was responsible for cutting the wood and getting it going?

LW: Well, we had enough wood from the fig trees, and the fig trees would have to be pruned and bundled up and the branches and, fig branches were cut up to produce the fire for the ofuro.

MN: Now can you describe what your ofuro was made out of?

LW: It was large enough for two people to enjoy and it was made of stainless steel with, deep enough when you sat it would come up to your shoulders, above your shoulders right up to your chin. So it was made of stainless steel and the stainless steel was important because we built a fire right underneath the bathtub and in order to heat the water, so the steel was good for building the fire underneath and then for, when the water got hot we sat on a thin platform of wood to avoid the hot bottom of the tub.

MN: Was this an outside, was this an enclosed area, the ofuro?

LW: Yes, we had a bathhouse, ofuro. One area was for dressing and undressing, and the other area contained the tub where we could rinse off, wash ourselves before climbing into the tub, so that was really nice.

MN: And was it a very traditional way that your family practiced, with the father going first and then the males?

LW: Yes, it was, because I remember when I was a little kid the first ones into the tub were my dad, and then he would bring me in so the two of us could enjoy together, but then after we finished, then the rest of the family was able to get into the tub.

MN: Now, what about your outhouse?

LW: Oh yes, that was an important part of the, the farm family. Plumbing wasn't in, in use at that time, and so they... both the ofuro and the next thing was the outhouse, a separate building in the same area away from the house.

MN: Did you have toilet paper as we know it today?

LW: No. Like most families, we had both newspaper and a Sears-Roebuck catalog.

MN: Did you folks use a Japanese newspaper by any chance?

LW: I don't remember Japanese newspaper. I'm not sure that I ever saw a Japanese newspaper. We always, my dad was good at English, so he always had an English newspaper. But later on when the Japanese language papers started to be published, I'm sure he subscribed to, to the language papers.

MN: Well, the reason why I ask is some, I know some farmers who had Japanese newspapers, and sometimes they used it for toilet paper and the Emperor's picture might be on there, so they would have problems sometimes. Let's see now, your farm had a, very unique, it had a cow.

LW: Oh yeah. That, my dad, that's why I say my dad was a kind of, he broke the pattern of immigrant Japanese farmers because he had his cow because it was important to have milk for the family and milk produced not only milk, but it produced butter, cream and butter, so that was an early part of our lives, to have milk and butter that came from our own cow.

MN: How do you make butter?

LW: Well, my mom and, was very good at taking the, getting the fresh milk that was just milked and then letting it settle for a while, and then the cream would come to the top of the milk, and she would scrape off the cream, accumulate enough cream to put into a butter churn, and that was one of our, my early experience to churn butter. And by churning the butter, then the skim milk and the butter would separate, and then my mother would have, mold the buttercream into butter.

MN: Does this butter taste like the butter we buy in the grocery stores?

LW: Well no, I think it was, it had its own flavor, very distinct flavor. Course, I couldn't compare, since I didn't, we didn't have butter, if we ran short of butter it was oleo, margarine, so margarine and butter were very different. So I don't ever remember tasting regular grocery butter. It was always butter that my, my mother and the rest of us made.

MN: Now, what about mules, did you have mules on your farm to cultivate?

LW: Oh yeah. That was a necessity for farmers, to have draft animals that could do the heavy work, plowing and hauling, so we had two mules that were regular, they were part of the farm family equipment that was necessary.

MN: When did the tractor come in, and did you get rid of the mules once you got a tractor?

LW: We had both. My dad had both, the mules, and the tractors came in quite a bit later. One of the early pictures that I, we have is of my dad sitting on the old Fordson tractor. That was one of his first purchases, mechanized equipment that he purchased, and I think at that time I must've been around five or six years old when he, I remember seeing that tractor.

MN: How old were you when you learned to drive the tractor?

LW: Well, by the time I learned to drive the tractor was about the same time I learned to drive a, the farm car. I must've been about fourteen, fifteen years of age when I began to drive the, drive the tractor. That was a job I looked forward to, which was, you could do the farm work while you were sitting and driving rather than out shoveling with a, the hard work, shoveling with a shovel and doing heavy back work, so it was always a joy when I had the job of running the tractor.

MN: Now, did any of you or your siblings visit Japan before the war?

LW: No. My siblings did. I think my mother, I mean, my brother and my sister were, when they, soon after they were born they made a trip to Japan. I guess my, my brother must've been about five years old and my sister, the next sister, was probably under two or three when they visited Japan. And I'm sure my mom and dad were proud of their children and wanted to show their families in Japan that, of their, of their newly born children. But the rest of us, I think they were the only two that went to Japan as children.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

MN: And you attended Lincoln Grammar School, Grant Junior High School, and Reedley High School.

LW: Yes.

MN: Now, your Lincoln, is it grammar school, elementary school? Grammar school, that, is that correct?

LW: Yes.

MN: What was the ethnic makeup of that school?

LW: There were primarily, I think we, I had in most of my classes about four, four or five classmates, so that was about all the way from grammar school right on through high school. In high school I think I had quite a few more, maybe six or seven classmates in my classes.

MN: Who were Japanese Americans?

LW: Yes, they were Japanese Americans.

MN: And were the others all Caucasians?

LW: Most of the others were Caucasian. So we were, then there was also quite an influx in Reedley area of Armenians, so our neighbors, we had quite a good number of people whose ethnic heritage is of Armenia. So they were a smaller, small group of, a small community along with the Japanese.

MN: And which Japanese language school did you attend?

LW: We had what we called a Japanese Saturday school, 'cause all day Saturday almost all the Japanese American children went to Japanese school.

MN: Was there an official name for this school?

LW: I think they only, they called it Reedley Japanese School. Us kids called it Saturday school, and that meant that rather than enjoying a free Saturday like our classmates were, our Caucasian classmates were, we had to go to language school, so we didn't have a very good attitude about Japanese language, going to school on Saturday.

MN: Now where did the teachers come from for the Saturday school?

LW: As I remember, all the teachers came from Fresno, California. That, that was the city which most of us farm families related to. Going to the city for us farm families was going to Fresno, and the population of Japanese was much larger in proportion.

MN: Now, compared to your everyday at the five day regular school, how strict was the Japanese school?

LW: As I remember, they weren't particularly strict. They wanted to make sure that we, we did our homework and did our work in school, but as I remember they, they weren't that strict. They made sure that we behaved ourselves in class, but most of us Japanese immigrant kids were pretty well behaved according to our Caucasian friends.

MN: When you went to Japanese school what kind of lunch did you bring?

LW: Yeah, I think my mother always fixed us Japanese food. We had musubi and okazu to go with our, our lunch, and which was, which was nice because our, the public school was always sandwiches and the usual thing that Caucasian families had for lunch.

MN: So when you went to your regular school you brought sandwiches, but on Saturdays you got to bring rice?

LW: Yes.

MN: Now, some of the Japanese schools, during the summer break they asked students to write diaries. Did you have to do that?

LW: No, I don't remember writing, ever writing a diary.

MN: And at home which language was spoken?

LW: My dad was bilingual, so we, we spoke English to him, but my mother spoke only Japanese, so we always talked, well, my mother would talk to us in Japanese and for the most part we would respond in English. So English was our language. My mom's language was Japanese and my dad's language was bilingual, so we spoke both, we heard both the Japanese and English.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

MN: Now, the Japanese school was held at the Reedley Community Center, is that correct?

LW: Yes.

MN: Is this a community center that the Japanese American community built?

LW: Yes. It started out, well, the Japanese American community, that was one of the first things they did was to find a place where they could build a center. So they built it piece by piece as the Japanese immigrant family grew in age and also in number.

MN: What other activities were held at this community center?

LW: The community, we also had our, the Buddhist families had their Buddhist worship service. The Christian families had their Sunday school and the Sunday services there. It was also a center for community activities, so it started out as, with one building, one building where all these various community events could be held.

MN: How about like judo or kendo classes?

LW: Well that came later. That was a larger building, a larger community center adjacent to the original community center, and in the larger, newly built community center all their activities were held, including judo, kendo, and other larger community events, programs for, on festive occasions the larger community center was used.

MN: Did you take any judo or kendo classes?

LW: Yes, my dad enrolled me, in judo when I was, I think I began judo classes when I was probably first year, or last year of junior high or as a freshman in high school. I think that's when I began judo lessons.

MN: How did you like that?

LW: I didn't like it as much as other sports, like basketball and softball, baseball, but it was, it was nice because I could practice and also do judo with, along with my friends, high school Japanese friends.

MN: Now, so you grew up, your schedule was you went to school every day, you had Japanese school on Saturdays and church on Sundays, judo practice once a week in the evenings. Did you have any free time, and if you did what did you do?

LW: Yeah, well, we managed to have free time. I guess I used to, I learned to ride a bicycle, and I had a Japanese American friend who had, who taught me how to ride a bicycle, so we would occasionally ride together, but we liked also to hike and also swim. We had the irrigation canal running right adjacent to our property. Irrigation canals that farmers needed to bring enough water to, to do the farming, so the irrigation ditch was large enough for us to swim in so we enjoyed swimming along with the other activities.

MN: Now did Reedley have a Okayama Kenjinkai?

LW: No, it did not. I don't remember -- course, I was too young to learn about the various kens from which immigrants came, but I don't remember ever having a specific ken groups get together. I think the community was small enough so that the one big community center was the thing that drew, brought people together.

MN: Were there, like picnics that, like, a kenjinkai would normally have? Did the Reedley community have those kind of events?

LW: Yes, the Reedley community every spring had a, what we called the Reedley picnic. There were, so there were no kenjinkai picnics. It was the entire Reedley Japanese community that had the spring picnic.

MN: Now, what about the Obon and New Year's, did the Japanese American Reedley community celebrate Obon? I know you're not Buddhist, but...

LW: Yeah, I don't remember ever celebrating Obon, but I do remember celebrating in Reedley what we, what we called the undoukai, which means children and youth participating in athletic events, racing events, but I guess that was the main thing, various kinds of races with prizes. So that was always the big community event that the entire community got together, and that was done right at the community center. We had enough open space where these events could take place.

MN: What about, like Oshogatsu, did you do mochitsuki at the community?

LW: Oshogatsu, the community itself, yes, I think we had one day in which we, one morning, I remember going to a New Year's event in which we all gathered together in the original community center and paid tribute to the Emperor, as I remember. And I think those, I think they all sang the national anthem, Kimigayo, and, but that's, that was a memory I had probably as a elementary school child. That was the most vivid I have of a New Year event.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

MN: Now, let's see, I'm gonna skip into your high school, your Reedley High School days. You were selected to join the Boys Club. What is the Boys Club?

LW: Well, the advisor, there was an advisor chosen to work with the high school advisor, along with the class there was also -- well, we had both the Girls Club and a Boys Club, and I was asked to join the Boys Club. It was supposed, I suppose it was because they chose certain, who they determined to be leaders of, in the class, so I was, I became a member of the Boys Club. And that, that was an unexpected honor that I received, and it made me feel, feel good to be asked to be join the Boys Club.

MN: You were also selected to a student body position, but you couldn't fill that.

LW: [Laughs] Yeah, I couldn't, the only subject I flunked in high school was typing, and when my, in a student body meeting when my, one of my friends nominated to be an officer, the dean got up and reported, "Lloyd Wake is ineligible to serve as an officer because he flunked typing." So that was, that was nice to be nominated, but I wasn't too disappointed that I didn't become a student body officer.

MN: But early on you were, sounds, seems to be you're very popular with your peers and you showed a lot of leadership.

LW: Oh, I don't know if I showed much leadership, but it was always nice to be with, with friends, and I got along well with them. I think part of that was because I played on the high school basketball team and the baseball team. In high school, the high school at that time had three classes of basketball, or was it two? I think it had two classes of basketball players. I played with the smaller kids, younger, shorter kids, and then we had a varsity. I never did, could play with the varsity. I was too small. But we had a, a league among the high schools there, basketball league for Class B players, so I was able to make friends, classmates, my class, basketball mates. I always had good friends with basketball mates. But in baseball we had only one team. It was the varsity, and I was able to play with the varsity team, so through that kind of relationship, not specifically academically, but through sports I had good relationships and probably became more visible in the student body through that, through that kind of extracurricular activities.

MN: Now, were you involved with the Boy Scouts before the war?

LW: Yeah, I was. I was, my parents encouraged me to join the Boy Scout troop, but I didn't get too far with the Boy Scouts. I enjoyed summer camp. I think I went to one summer camp, and the other activities with the Boy Scouts, enjoyed, but I didn't go very far. I gradually dropped out of Boy Scouts. But if you're asking about Boy Scout activity before the war, after high school, graduated high school, the chairperson of the JACL asked if I would be a scoutmaster of a Scout troop that the JACL wanted to begin, to organize with the Japanese American kids, so I decided to be a scoutmaster. So those were my two involvements with, with the Boy Scouts.

MN: So the JACL group, were they from the Fresno area?

LW: No, it was a Reedley JACL. We had, I guess that was one community that had enough older folks that were interested in performing activities for the youth.

MN: So at, at that point before the war JACL was basically more of a youth oriented, sports oriented group in Reedley?

LW: Well, we had a JACL made up of the older Nisei, but they also wanted to do a project of service, and I think taking up the Boy Scout program, organizing the Boy Scout program, was their way of providing community service for the younger people. But the JACL was made up of the older, older Nisei.

MN: So your involvement with them was basically as the scoutmaster, before the war?

LW: That's right, just before the war.

MN: Now, after you graduated from Reedley High in 1939, did you or your friends get any draft notices?

LW: No, I don't remember getting a draft notice.

MN: You did not go immediately into college after high school. Why not?

LW: Well, I had made up my mind, I had said to my mom and dad that I would, when they became concerned about who would take over the farm because my dad and mom were preparing for, for their aging, the aging process, they were concerned about who would take over the farm. And I knew that my brother Bill wanted, wasn't particularly interested in the farm. He wanted to go on to college, so I told, when I heard them talking about their concerns about the farm, I told them, well, when I graduated high school I would, I'm willing to take over the farm and start farming, so immediately after high school I began working with my dad to take care of the farm.

MN: Now your father seems to have done very well, and this is during the Great Depression era, the 1930s.

LW: Yeah.

MN: Did your family ever feel the impact of the Great Depression?

LW: Yes, we did. That was in the early '30s. Of course, by that time I was ten or twelve, so my mom and dad would always, the conversation at that time was, "I hope we can make it," or, "I wonder if we can," and so they were really pinching pennies and feeling the impact of the Depression.

MN: But somehow your father was able to purchase three pieces of property for the family.

LW: One at a time. Just, I think while I was in high school, my dad saw a, was able to purchase a twenty acre piece about a mile and a half from our original farm, our birth, birthplace, and by that time he was able to be successful enough to expand and purchase a twenty acre piece close by, so we, that was, that was two pieces of property that he was farming. But I do remember that there were a couple of other farmers, my neighbor, Nakamura family, also was able to expand, and the Kitahara family, both of them, I remember, purchased extra, another piece in addition to their home piece, purchased another piece of property three or four miles from their home. So that seemed to be the pattern, the desire to support their families, support their children in the, to really make, try to make a go of it to support their children, of making a go of it in, in the, in America. So my dad was very forthright in that desire. I think that's one reason why he was able to save up enough to expand the, the farm.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

MN: Now I'm gonna start asking you about the war. On December 7, (1941), which was a Sunday, what were you doing that day and how did you hear about the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

LW: It was a Sunday afternoon and I had arranged with my Japanese American classmate and buddy in Reedley to pick me up and we would ride together in his car -- he had just purchased a car -- so we would go to a neighboring town of Sanger to watch the, the Japanese American girls' basketball team play basketball. They were in a league of Japanese American teams. And so he came to pick me up right after lunch, and as we were driving towards Sanger we heard the announcement on his car radio about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. We felt, oh, that's, that's really a terrible thing, but it was still something that we could not emotionally relate to because our childhood was one of being hundred percent Americans, this is our land, so we heard, we knew very little about Japan. So we were not really emotionally involved, mentally involved with Japan, so we said, well, it's a bad thing. We'll go on and do Sanger to see, see the basketball game.

MN: No, on this trip to Sanger, or on the way back, did you experience any hostility at all?

LW: Well, we dropped in the Sanger coffee shop just before the game and we heard on the radio the announcements that were coming in about the bombing, but we went right ahead and ordered our coffee and pie. But we began to wonder about these strange looks that the customers were, we seemed to think that they were throwing toward us. They must've known we were Japanese Americans. So that was the one thing we noticed, but we went on there, from there, to the basketball game and after the game we came back home.

MN: How were your family when you came back home? What was their reaction?

LW: Well, we had all gathered, by that time we had all gathered and my dad and mom, the rest of us were very, well, especially my dad and mom were very concerned about the event of that day, and they were shaking their head, they were, I know that they were very anxious about what was going on.

MN: Now, did the FBI pick up any Japanese Americans in the Reedley community?

LW: I don't, I don't believe so. I don't think any of us were, any of the Japanese Americans were picked up.

MN: Now by this time one of your older sisters was married and living in San Francisco. What were you hearing from her?

LW: Well, she, San Francisco, they began to experience some of the fears of, that was being propagated in the, in the media about possible invasion or hostility from Japanese military, so the, they had a, what do you call it, a brownout here in San Francisco, at night. My sister told about having to draw down all the blinds so that no lights would be showing, shown, the city would be browned out. And so she was expressing this kind of fear to our family in Reedley.

MN: Was she writing or did you have a telephone that you were able to communicate with?

LW: My dad was good at writing, so it was mainly by correspondence. Edna, my sister married in San Francisco, would, was good about corresponding. There may have been some phone calls, but I don't remember them. It was primarily letters.

MN: Did your farm have a phone?

LW: Oh yes. We had a phone, one of these farm phones that there several people on the same system, and the old time farm phones we had to crank up the power in order to listen. It was battery operated, so in order to get the electricity to operate the phone we had to power it up by cranking it up with a, with a hand phone, and then we got enough power and we could usually make the connection. But there were others on the line and we had to avoid being on the same line.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

MN: Now, in the spring of '42 the government issued a military exclusion zone for Japanese Americans, and Reedley was not included in the exclusion zone, but how did that order impact the Reedley community?

LW: Oh yes, that, soon as the Reedley area was still a free zone, farm families that lived in the military zone began to -- those that were able to -- were making plans to move into the Reedley area, so a good number of families were able to move in. They had, some had families, some had friends, others simply moved on their own, and the Japanese American population increased by, I don't, I don't know what the percentage was, but we had a lot of new families moving in.

MN: Where were they finding places to live?

LW: Almost anywhere. Barns, sheds, shacks, a few fortunate ones were able to find vacant homes, but most of them were makeshift, lived in makeshift housing, wherever they could find a roof over their heads.

MN: And these newer Japanese Americans, what area of California were they coming from?

LW: They were coming, a few from the Bay Area. As I remember, most of the families were coming from the Salinas, Monterey, mid coast areas.

MN: Now your community saw this huge increase of Japanese Americans. Was there hostility from the non Nikkei community in Reedley?

LW: No, I don't remember that. Hearing about it or, of course, experiencing that, I think it was just accepting the fact that we were getting new Japanese families here. And they, Reedley seemed, was in a very fortunate situation as far as hostility from the larger, major population was concerned. They seemed to just accept the fact that we were part of the community.

MN: And what happened to your sister Edna in San Francisco?

LW: Well, it started out with the, with my getting word from my father, who came out to the ranch while I was working, and he said, "Keigo, you'll have to go to San Francisco," because my sister and her family and all of San Francisco has received the order to evacuate. They only had four days to evacuate, "So you need to go up and help Edna's family pack up their art goods store." See, the Shiota family had an art goods store on Grant Avenue and, of Japanese art goods, so I immediately drove up to San Francisco and the next day we started to pack up all their art goods in the store and loaded it onto a big truck that was parked right there on Grant Street. We loaded all the goods. I think it took us about two days to pack up everything and put it into the truck that was going to haul all the, all the art goods.

MN: And what happened to the truck, or what happened to your sister?

LW: Well fortunately, by that time we had moved to Dinuba, where we had a large home and a large basement, and the truck brought all the goods down to Dinuba, California -- that's where we were living at that time -- and they loaded, they unloaded all the art goods in the large basement area that we had in our home. The home itself began to be populated by our families that had to evacuate their particular area, so the San Francisco family moved into our home.

MN: Do you remember when this was, when this occurred in 1942, what month?

LW: Well, it occurred, let's see, the area that, where people began to move into the Central Valley since it was, it was a free zone, began in, let's see, it must've been about February, around March, in the spring. And by the time we got, I believe around July we began to hear word that that area, the Central Valley area too, would be a military zone, so that's when we began to get very anxious. Maybe it's, we too will be ordered to evacuate. So that, that was, even though many families had moved in, we all became very anxious about what the government would, would declare.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

MN: Now, so you're saying that in July you were starting to hear word that it might become a military zone. When did you actually hear that it was, now you had to move?

LW: It must've been in, around that time when the WRA had established an office in Reedley, so when they set up that office and began processing us, then we, of course, then we knew that this, the decision had been made, that we too would have to move. So as soon as they began that process we knew that the government had decided, you too, all the folks would have to evacuate.

MN: When this was going on, what was going through your mind?

LW: A lot of fear, anxiety that... so the government has declared, "Well, you're also under orders to evacuate," so we were very upset, but we had to make plans to vacate.

MN: Did you question your American citizenship?

LW: I never questioned my American citizenship. I just felt like, what a terrible thing to do to, to those of us who were citizens, and beyond that I guess it was part of the attitude that we had been, we had grown up with, shikata ga nai. There's nothing we can do about it. If that's the order, there's nothing we can do except to obey orders.

MN: Now what did your father do with the three pieces of property?

LW: Well, fortunately we had made good friends in Reedley, through the Mennonite Brethren community and through the church, and since they were very friendly to us Japanese families, my dad asked a young Mennonite Brethren couple if they would be willing to live in our homes and take care of our property, our farms, and they were, they said yes. So that was a major anxiety on the part of my, my parents, and there was a, he really trusted them. There was a real good element of trust that was going on between the Japanese American community, the Christian community, and the Mennonite Brethren.

MN: As you prepare to leave your home, how long did you think you were gonna be away?

LW: We had no idea. We kept talking about we would be there, we would be in the camp for the duration, whatever that meant. We meant the duration of the war. As soon as the war was over we were, we had the hopes of returning.

MN: On the day of your departure, where did you gather and how did you get there?

LW: We had our Mennonite Brethren families, friends drive us from Dinuba to the Reedley train depot. That's where we were to be picked up. It was an August afternoon. And so we were all prepared. The Reedley folks, mainly the Mennonite Brethren, were kind enough to have some cold drinks there, and they were there ready to bid us goodbye, to send us off on the trains.


MN: Okay. Now you had already graduated from Reedley High School, but years later you found this document from the Reedley High School principal that he had put out when the Japanese Americans were being put into camp. What did he say in that document?

LW: It was something about, "In Reedley we want to remain as friends with the Japanese American community." I think that was the essence of it. I don't know the full text, but it was a reaching out in friendship to the Japanese Americans.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

MN: Now, from your gathering train depot place, did you go straight to Poston or did you go to assembly center?

LW: We, we went straight through to Poston, from Reedley straight out to Arizona.

MN: How long was the train ride?

LW: We left there about four o'clock in the afternoon and arrived at Parker, Arizona, about -- that was fifteen miles from the camp -- about twenty-four hours later. It must've been, well, maybe it was mid-afternoon of the next day.

MN: Now what do you remember of the train ride?

LW: Well, we were supposed to keep all the shades down because, to keep us from looking out or from others looking in to see who was riding the train, but the... let's see, your question was what was the train ride like?

MN: Your memories, yes.

LW: Memories, yeah. Well, we had to keep the windows open. We certainly, we didn't have air conditioned cars at that time. It was hot, August, so we had to keep the windows open, but on the way, after we left Bakersfield we went through some tunnels, and the smoke from the steam engine, from the, yeah, from the engines blew right into the coaches, and so we had to slam down the window to shut down the smoke. As soon as we went through the tunnels we were able to open up the windows again, but that was one memory I had, of smoke coming into the cars.

MN: Now, when the train stopped at Parker, Arizona, how did you get from Parker to Poston?

LW: By that time Camp I was already settled, so the, the residents of Camp I were already organized enough to drive their trucks and provide transportation by the camp trucks, to pick us up from the train to bring us down to Poston III.

MN: So you ended up in Poston Camp III?

LW: Yes.

MN: And you said you arrived at Poston about mid-afternoon?

LW: Late afternoon. I think it was, must've been about four or five o'clock in the afternoon.

MN: How, how would you compare the heat compared to how you grew up in Reedley?

LW: Well, the heat, we were used to the heat, but the thing that really was eye-catching was the windstorm. There was a lot of wind blowing and it was like a mini sandstorm as we got close to Camp III, so it was the wind and the sand.

MN: Would that be your first impression of Poston?

LW: Yeah, that, that was the first impression, not a very, not a friendly welcome to Poston Three.

MN: What about your first meal at Poston?

LW: Well, the wind was blowing up through the, the knotholes in the floor. They used very poor lumber. There were knotholes on the walls, but also in the, holes in the floor, and the wind was blowing sand up through the knotholes and it settled onto our dish of rice and two pieces of baloney. Made the, it was practically inedible, so fortunately we had a few snacks leftover from our train trip and able to have some snacks instead of the meal.

MN: Now, were you able to live with your parents and your siblings?

LW: No, they, my parents and my three siblings had a one part of a barrack. I think their barrack was twenty-four feet by twenty-four feet, so the five of them were able to live in that barrack. The, that was the limit that could live in that space, so my friend from Reedley, my buddy from Reedley and I were able to room together in the barrack that had eight spaces. These spaces were for couples, these little rooms. They were half the size of the regular barracks, so my buddy and I were able to room together in a barrack, a space, a room of eight by twelve.

MN: Now what were some of the first things you did when you got there to settle down?

LW: The, Camp III was organizing itself to carry on its, the necessary work, and the, so they had all kinds of, of departments that people could work in. You had the kitchen crew, maintenance, the recreation, and the maintenance was the job that I latched onto. I decided to, since I, gathering trash was done by tractors and trailers and I had that experience of driving tractors and trailers in, at home on our farm, another friend and I signed up to carry trash. So we went around picking up all the trash and bringing, bringing it to the dumping place, so I did that for about three or four weeks.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

MN: And then after that what kind of jobs did you get?

LW: Another job was the person heading up the recreation department. One of our camp residents asked if I would be a scoutmaster for the Scouts that they were organizing, and since I had that brief experience in Reedley I said, "Okay, I'll work for the, yeah, I'll take care of the Scouts," so I had that job for, oh, maybe two or three months.

MN: And then what job did you take on?

LW: The job was working in the, what they called at that time the social service department. These were, they were monitoring, providing services for families that have specific needs other than just being mobile and being able to take care of themselves. There were some families that had special needs, so the social service department had, was taking care of that department. So I said, when the head of the social service department asked if I'd be interested in working there, I said, "Sure, I'll do that, I'll be glad to work there."

MN: Now, you were also very active in athletics and you played on the Poston all-star baseball team.

LW: Yeah, that came a little later, after, when we got into softball and baseball. The Poston III decided to put together an all-star team because there was a team coming from another camp, so we organized, they asked me to play on that team, and the game we had was with a baseball team from Amache, Colorado. I was surprised to, well, I was, I enjoyed being on the all-star team, but I was also surprised that another baseball team from another camp was able to travel all the way from Colorado to Arizona, so it was a nice event for us. At the same time, I wondered why Poston couldn't get a, have the privilege of traveling, the Poston baseball team wasn't able to travel like the Amache team was.

MN: So were you folks able to go outside of camp and visit another camp?

LW: No. We stayed put and made the best of living in the camp.

MN: So you folks called yourselves the all-star team, so did you play with the other, like against Camp I and Camp II?

LW: That was one baseball game I remember that we played. All of our other games were softball and we, the softball teams in Camp III were organized pretty much around blocks. You had blocks of barracks, and we had about, maybe six or seven different blocks of barracks, so the softball team, we had, like an intramural softball league made up of teams from various camps, I mean, various blocks. I don't think we ever played another team from the other camp. It was pretty much confined to Camp III.

MN: Now what position did you play on the softball and the baseball team?

LW: I played shortstop. That's always been my, my position. We also, way back, just before we evacuated from Reedley, we also had, I think the JACL formed a baseball team, so we had a baseball, Reedley JACL baseball team that had a baseball league among other Japanese American communities in Central Valley, so that was my experience before camp and then during camp of both baseball and softball.

MN: And so, since most of those people ended up in the same camp, did you folks, basically was it the same league from before the war that you were playing with, the same people?

LW: No, we were quite mixed. There were different people. Reedley was pretty much Reedley people, but by the time we got to the camp, since it was organized around the block system, we were all mixed, mixed from various communities. We didn't, we didn't pay too much attention to, "What community did you live in?" or community. We were all Camp III residents.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

MN: Now your father, what did he do in camp?

LW: My father was a skilled carpenter, so in addition to farming he built his own house, so he was a good carpenter. So his job was being in the carpentry department, so he did jobs on, on the barracks and other camp facilities that needed carpentry work.

MN: Camp I had this huge theater that was built. Did he work on any of those theater projects, putting on plays?

LW: No. I think all his work was pretty much confined to Camp III.

MN: What did he do on his free time?

LW: He was, oh yeah, he kept up his poetry. Before camp, he and, there was a poetry club of California people, and so he was always composing poetry while he was farming. When he got into camp he was, continued composing poetry, and even in camp they shared, they had a poetry club. But he was also a, he liked to create things with his hands out of wood, so he did some beautiful things with ironwood. The interesting thing was that in his free time he would go out of the fence, Camp III -- I guess that was one camp that was quite lenient -- so he would walk out into the desert and look for ironwood, which was petrified wood. It was almost like stone. And he, he came back with, on his trips he came back with some ironwood, and out of the ironwood he created a couple of beautiful vases, which, they're still in our family. I think one of the members of our family has one of his vases, and on that vase he carved the, a haiku using, and done very beautifully in the calligraphy form, and to be able to do that, carve that in that ironwood was amazing to me, so it's really a real treasure that we have. So that was his work. He enjoyed poetry, working with his hands, creating some beautiful pieces.

MN: Has his poetry ever been compiled into a book or an anthology?

LW: I think, I think yes. I think my sister, who is, made a special effort to preserve some of the history, has a book of poetry, and I know that the club that he belonged to, even in camp, had poetry, haiku poetry books, so I think my sister has, has those in her possession. Since my sister's husband is bilingual, knows Japanese, he's good at being able to translate and understands the meaning of that poetry.

MN: Now, what about your mother, what did she do in camp?

LW: My mother, in addition to trying to grow flowers in the piece of, space in front of the barrack, she loved to knit and she knitted a couple of sweaters for me, and I know she knitted other things, clothing for her children and maybe even her grandchildren.

MN: In November of 1942 Saburo Kido, a JACL leader, was beaten up at Poston II and Poston underwent a general strike, I think mostly Camp I. Did this affect life in Camp III?

LW: All the, in terms of anxiety and some, quite a bit of conversation among the older folks. As a youth, I guess we had heard about it, but we didn't really ask questions and really get into the dynamics of dealing with that situation, so we were pretty naive teenagers dealing, probably trying to make the best of our own situation.

MN: Now how about when the "loyalty questionnaire" came out in '43? Did you discuss this with others before answering?

LW: We didn't have a chance to discuss it. We may have -- well, our pastors were, in the camp, were our peers. They were only a year or two older than we were, so they were going through the, their own experience, and even though we discussed it there was never any attempt to, for us to get together and just talk about it. I think we all dealt with it as individuals, and I think our, our pastors may have thought about it, but they never really got the group together to discuss the issues, the issue around the questions. Personally, having a background in Christian faith, being, trying to live peacefully with others, my idea of the question was I would, if I had the chance, I would say, "If necessary, if needed, I will serve in the military, but only as a non-combatant participant, like in medical corps or something along that line where I would not have to carry a gun." But when it came time to, that kind of answering of the question was not permitted. We had to answer yes or no. I believe I answered "yes" to both.

MN: And what about your parents? Did they ever talk about wanting to return to Japan?

LW: No, they never did. They, with eight children I think they were really committed to staying here and doing their best to help our children to grow up and develop as American citizens.

MN: And how long were you in camp when your father started to feel sick?

LW: I think, well, even before he came to camp he was having some physical problems, and the camp certainly didn't help. I think his physical problems continued, but we didn't really know what, what the problems were. But he continued to work right on through, until the time I left camp. I left camp in end of June. We went in -- I think it was end of June, maybe first of July, but we went in there August, so it was about eleven months that I was there -- he was still active. He was still working in the carpentry department.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

MN: Now you said you left Poston in about eleven months. Why did you leave?

LW: By that time I decided that since I had never had the opportunity to go on to college and we didn't know how long we were going to be in the camps, I thought, well, this is a kind of an opening. This is an opportunity to go and start college, so I checked in with my mother and father, and they were reluctant, but I decided, well, this is my chance. I want to take advantage of it. The other thing that drew me was that my friend who was my peer and a pastor was still in college preparing for the ministry. He knew that he was going to prepare for the ministry. That was his, his vocation, his calling, so he preceded me to camp, I mean, to college, by a semester. I think he left camp around January of 1943, and while he was in college he kept writing to me, "Lloyd, come on out. This is a good place. I think you will really appreciate going to college here in Kentucky." So that was another drawing, so after I made preparations, filled out the necessary papers to leave camp, I left camp to go to college.

MN: And where did you go to college?

LW: In a little town of Wilmore, Kentucky, near Lexington, Kentucky.

MN: Now Kentucky is in the deep South and your train ride, you're going into the deep South, was this the first time you had the "whites only," "colored only" sections you had to deal with?

LW: Yes. Yeah, when we boarded the train -- course I had to ride in several trains -- I think we changed trains in Kansas City, and that was the train that took me into, from Kansas into Arkansas and into the, into the South, what I'd call the, south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

MN: Now what was your first exposure to dealing with "whites only" and "colored only"?

LW: Well, this must've been about the fourth day of train rides and I was pretty tired, and the coach that I was riding in was very crowded, so I decided I'm going to try to find a coach, coach that, where I can lie down. So I walked a couple of cars and finally found this car that was half empty, and there were empty seats, so I decided to just lie down and rest, and it wasn't long before the conductor came along and tapped me in my stomach. "Hey," and said, "Hey, you're in the wrong place. Get out of here. Get back to where you belong." And I wondered what that was. With a puzzled look on my face, and he said, "Get back. You don't belong here," so I went back to the car that I was riding. Then I realized that, what this was all about, and so that was my first experience with a Jim Crow law.

MN: What did you make of the separation?

LW: That was, it was really, my first exposure was just, it just doesn't make sense that when, if people wanted to lie down and sleep they had the privilege of sleeping anywhere on that train, but then realized that, yes, they're, so this is the, the deep South, so this is segregation.

MN: Now, when you arrived at your college, how did the students and the staff people treat you?

LW: Well, of course I had a couple friends there already from the camp. John Miyabe was my friend from the camp who preceded me, had already broken the ice in terms of a Japanese American, and also being a school where some of the Christian ideas, Christian principles were being carried out both in the faculty and the, and the students, there was that atmosphere of openness and accepting all. Even though we were probably the first Japanese Americans there, there was that cordial acceptance, and so we were treated as interesting students, but we were treated as students who were different.

MN: So other than yourself and John Miyabe, were there other Niseis enrolled?

LW: Yes, that, after a semester or two, others from the camp began to, were also acquainted, knew about Asbury College. There were a couple of people from the camps there, so they were friends that came out to Asbury College, and there were about five or six women, women students who came to join us, so eventually we had, after about three, two or three semesters there, we had a Japanese American student community.

MN: Now where, which camp were these people mostly coming from?

LW: Most of the, yes, I think all of them came from Camp III. They were the first to be settled, and the people from Los Angeles moved in there and there was quite a strong Christian segment of the Los Angeles community that moved into Camp III, so they all seemed to know each other. And these were the students that were able to make, fill out the application form, make the decision, and were accepted. They were the students that left camp, Camp I, to come to Asbury.

MN: So it sounds like basically it was the Poston people coming from Camp One, Camp III?

LW: Yes, they were Poston people.

MN: Did you ever get a chance to meet with these other students who came after you?

LW: Oh yes. We got together. Every one of us was a work study student. We had to provide the hours of work to get a little stipend from the school, so they, at least we worked together in various, in various positions at the college. And so during our free time, during, occasionally we got together, maybe once every two or three weeks we got together to have fellowship but also cook some rice and enjoy some, whatever okazu we could put together.

MN: So was rice readily available in that area?

LW: Oh yeah, we went out to purchase our own rice. The rice that they served in the cafeteria was a different kind of a rice. It was like, almost like instant rice, which didn't go well with us.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

MN: When you entered college what was, what did you major in?

LW: My major was history and also English, English literature.

MN: Now, at this point in your life, were you already thinking about going into the ministry?

LW: No, I wasn't. I was only in college to get a new experience but also eventually, when, to return to our homes when we were able to, after the war, so at that time I was just in college to, as a new experience for me.

MN: So after the war you were gonna go back to your farm life?

LW: Yes.

MN: Now, I think you arrived at Asbury College in the summer, and most of the time school is out. What did you do?

LW: We were, they had summer school, and in order to retain my draft status I had, we had to be in college the year round. That's why I could, could start in summer and then finish the quarters and then go on to the next summer school, so we were in college the year round.

MN: Now you mentioned you had, because of your draft status, what was your draft status?

LW: I was 4-C, at that time ineligible to serve in the armed forces because, I forgot what the name of the status was, but, I used to have that in mind, but anyway, it was one that declared us to be unfit for U.S. military service.

MN: During your second year at Asbury College you were elected as chaplain of your class. Now, can you share with us how you got elected?

LW: Well, by that time I was, well, I was well acquainted. I think most of the students knew who I was. I participated in extracurricular activities. I had some close friends who were part of my extracurricular activities, so they, that particular, every class in college had officers, and I was, and almost all of them had a chaplain, so they asked, they elected me to be chaplain of the, of that particular, I guess it was the sophomore class.

MN: So as a chaplain, what did you do?

LW: I was to schedule speakers and programs once a week when the whole class got together in the chapel service. That chapel service was, was not mandatory. It was, whatever you call it, if they wanted to attend they could attend. So I was responsible for setting up the programs for the, for the chaplain's service.

MN: Now, during this time, did you ever get a chance to share about camp or have someone from camp share about their experience?

LW: Not, not publically. Not to the campus. It was only when I was asked to, by the father who was a minister of one of my classmates. The father was a pastor in Indiana and he wanted, he was responsible for one aspect of a youth camp for the Methodist Church. They had a Methodist youth camp, and he was responsible for one aspect of the program, so he asked, through his son he asked if I would attend the camp, the summer camp for one week and be a resource on that camp, at that camp. So I said okay, I'll go to the camp, so they made arrangement, they picked me up, they made arrangements for me to be a participant in that one week summer youth camp. So at that time he, I was to share the experience as a Japanese American in one of the ten relocation centers.

MN: And how did the youth take your story, experience?

LW: They were, it was a new story to them. They were very interested, and I did my best to share that experience. The interesting thing about that particular camp was that the keynote speaker to the youth was an African American pastor, so it's, I think that was good in that he was there so that that created a certain atmosphere for the camp that helped them to be open to something new and something different. And so I felt like, alright, so we're able to share and be accepted by the youth.

MN: Do you think it made a difference that, well, your college was below the Mason-Dixon Line and this camp was above the Mason-Dixon, north of Mason-Dixon Line. Was that a reason why this father was more open to having that kind of speaker?

LW: Yes, I think definitely. He was a pastor in Indiana and the pastors north of the Mason-Dixon Line had a, had a more open attitude. I think some of the pastors south of the Mason-Dixon Line, even though I think they, if they had some more progressive attitudes they couldn't be too vocal about it because that, the sentiment was still very, very strong.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

MN: I want to ask a little bit about your father. I know you said before you left for camp he was still, not feeling good, but still working.

LW: Yes.

MN: When did your father pass away?

LW: When?

MN: When, what year did he pass away?

LW: Oh, yeah, he died in 1944.

MN: And where were you when he passed away -- or before, right before he passed away?

LW: I was in Cleveland during the short break between summer quarter and the fall quarter. I was, I went up there because my sister had relocated into Cleveland, so she had a small apartment there in Cleveland, so it was my chance to leave Kentucky, go up for, to find a short term job where I could earn a little bit of money. And while I was, and so I was working in a short term job in Cleveland, and then at that time we got a call from my mother in camp, saying to us, "Papa doesn't have too much longer. He's going down. We want all of you to return to Poston." So we made arrangements. I quit my job, we made arrangements to get on the train and start back to Poston.

MN: Did you get back to Poston in time to have a last time with your dad?

LW: Yes, we got there, I think it was about ten days to a week before he died, so we were able to be with him in the, he was in, let's see, Camp I? I forgot. I guess the camp, it was, the hospital was in Camp I, so we were able to stay with him or have a watch over him twenty-four hours with all of us siblings there until he died.

MN: That must've been nice for him to have the entire family there.

LW: Oh yes, that was very, very reassuring, very comforting to him, and of course to my mother because I think at that time my mother, all the others had pretty much left, but my mother and my youngest sister were still in camp, so they had the responsibility of caring for him in the early days of his illness, but with the siblings coming in and helping him it was a real support to the entire family.

MN: Did your father have any parting words?

LW: No, he didn't. I don't remember him saying anything. Oh, I remember once, my brother-in-law and several others, my sisters were pretty good singers, so we stood outside his window in the hospital and sang him some hymns, some songs that... and when he, when we got back in he would nod his head and, I don't, he wasn't able to say very much. He just, it was mainly nodding his head in a way of saying thank you, and also nodding his head in terms of some of the family always being there with him.

MN: And what was the physical ailment that took his life?

LW: It was cancer of the liver, so that's, he was feeling that even before we evacuated, while he was still feeling some, some pain.

MN: And what did the family do with your father's body?

LW: He was cremated there and the ashes were kept in an urn, and my mother kept them in the barrack apartment so that when we returned she would be able to bring the urn with her.

MN: Now you said he was cremated there. In Parker or in, on the camp site itself?

LW: It must've been in a facility somewhere. I don't think the camp facility did not have that, but it must've been in some nearby city where that took place.

MN: During the 1980s you testified before the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians about your father.

LW: Yes.

MN: Can you share about what you said before them?

LW: Yes, I shared the fact that my father had... oh yes, I shared that experience two weeks before we were to evacuate from Reedley, he and I went out to the farm, it was the end of July, the crops were ready for harvest, and we went out there to do something and he said, "It's not right. It's not right." And that's the first time I ever saw him in tears, so I shared that experience as part of my testimony, and then the other thing I said was, was that he was never able to return to the farm, the one that had provided the sustenance for him and his entire family. And the official, the medical reason for his dying was cancer of the liver, but I feel like he died of a broken heart since he was never able to return. That was the simple testimony I submitted.

MN: So summer of 1944 your father passed away, and I assume you had to go back to school. Is that what you did?

LW: Yes, as soon as the, I think the day after the funeral service, I needed to get back because it was already about second or third week of the beginning of the fall semester back in college, so I knew I had to get back as soon as possible.

MN: So you missed three weeks of college. Were you able to enroll?

LW: The dean was not going to, had said, "I can't let you take a full load because you're late," but the first time, the first time -- well, not the first time, but I felt like I needed to be very adamant about it, I didn't want to spend the extra time in college. I said, "You've got to let me enroll. Can I enroll? Even if I'm late, I will make up my lost time." And he kept saying, "I can't let you. The rules say I can't let you do that," but I kept arguing with him, but finally he relented and let me enroll and take a full load for that fall semester, so I was grateful for that.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

MN: Now, the following year in '45, the war was over. And when you heard that the war with Japan was over, what was your reaction?

LW: Well, of course we were, we were glad, and I didn't know what was going to happen immediately since the war had ended, but then we got word that the folks that were in the camps and had relocated to other cities, Midwestern and Eastern cities, were gradually being processed where they could return. And so my, I was glad to hear that, and my brother, oldest brother by that time had, was in Washington, D.C. employed in, as part of the WRA. He was a draftsman, he was an architect, and he worked in a department that dealt with architecture under the WRA, so since we were now permitted to go back, he took his family and started back to Dinuba.

MN: Do you know what changed your brother's mind about returning to the farm?

LW: Returning to Dinuba?

MN: Yes.

LW: Well, the WRA employment was not anything that he could count on in the future, and he had spent a couple of years as an architect for a while before he evacuated, but he felt, "Well, here was an opportunity and somebody's got to take care of the farm since Lloyd, my brother, is not going to return." By that time Lloyd had made up his mind to prepare for the ministry, so he, his mother was still alive and was returning to Dinuba. Other siblings that were able to were going to return, and he felt the responsibility, I'm sure, which he gladly accepted, to go back to Dinuba and take over the home and the farm. So there was, think he had mixed, I don't know how, what his real thoughts were about that, but here I think for one thing he wanted to take the responsibility and the future in his particular field was kind of in doubt, kind of doubtful about whether there would be an opportunity for him in the architectural field.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

MN: Now when you entered college, you had no feelings of going into the ministry. Now in 1945 you had already made up your mind. How did, what did, how did this change of heart come about and when did you commit to going into the ministry?

LW: I think it was the influence of, really from childhood on through. One of the, while I was a Sunday school child one of my teachers, a Mennonite Brethren Sunday school teacher said to me as a child, I must've been about four or five years old, she said to me, "Lloyd, I'm hoping that one of these days you will be a minister." I didn't even know what that meant, but I remember that. She must've thought that I was somebody special, a child that was special, so that kind of experience as I grew through childhood and youth stayed with me. And I felt like I always wanted to be loyal to my Christian faith. I wanted to be a good Christian, and so in the camps, with the two ministers, my peers, I felt like these two guys are real. They're fun to be with, they're human and they're very positive about life, so that gave me a good impression about ministers. They could be human and they could be, have a good time at it. But that was a strong influence on me, and my, all through those years, the church meant a lot to me. It played a great influence on my life, so while I was at college for many of my, my fellow students, some of them were preparing for the ministry and that whole atmosphere of affirmation of those in the, preparing for the ministry, really moved me, influenced me. And I remember one experience before I left camp, knowing that I was going on to, into a new thing, I went out at night meditating and thinking to myself, "Oh God, I'm going to enter a new journey in my life, and I know that you will be with me, but I want to be, to do the right thing, and I feel like I'm doing the right thing by going on to college." So that kind of, making those kinds of decisions in life, I felt like I was ready to go into this, into the ministry.

MN: But in the meantime, when the camps closed, did you return to Poston to help your family return to California?

LW: No. They were able to return on their own, but I did return to help my brother on the farm. It was, again, during the... oh, that's right, yeah, after the, yeah, it was a summer break, I was able to return from Asbury to my brother's farm, because by that time he had moved into the Dinuba home, so I decided, well, I'm gonna go home since he's there. I have a few, a month or two. I want to go home and do what I can to help my brother.

MN: And then by then had you already told your mother that you were not going to be taking over the farm?

LW: Yes, 'cause she was, yeah, she had returned. I think it was my brother and my youngest sibling that helped my brother return to Dinuba, so she, when I returned she was there and knew that I had made up, made my decision.

MN: So with all this change going on, did it cause any problems in the family?

LW: No. You mean in terms of tension and negative feelings about my going into, my doing what I decided to do? No, I don't, I didn't experience any of that tension. I felt like since the whole family had been in this, had the church experience, or had the influence of the church, this, the decision of Lloyd to become a minister is okay with them.

MN: Now, when you return to the family, or I guess your brother had returned first, do you know if the house was kept up and if the farm was kept up?

LW: Yes. It was kept up well. The responsible couple there took good care of the, of the house. The farm I'm not sure 'cause that was about three years of farming and how experienced he was and how committed he was to caring for the farm I'm not sure. But at least he kept, kept the farm going, but I guess my brother would be the judge of what the, what shape the three pieces of property were in.

MN: Now some people, I know when they returned to their house the people living in it during the war refused to move out. Did you, did your family experience anything like that?

LW: No, this, this couple knew that when, if and when the family returned they would need to vacate, so there was no problem at all of my, my brother and his family and the rest of the family moving in.

MN: Now, after you helped your brother with the farm for the summer, you, did you return to Asbury College?

LW: Yes, I returned to Asbury College for my final year. So I finished, I decided that, I've finished two and a half, or three years of it since I went to summer school, I need to finish up the, the last year at Asbury.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

MN: So you finished three years of college in four years because you went through the summer school system?

LW: Right.

MN: And so you graduated in '46, is that correct?

LW: Yes.

MN: Now, after this, what did you decide to do?

LW: Asbury Seminary was right across the street from the college, and some of my classmates who were deciding for, who had committed themselves for the ministry, were going to Asbury College. And at that time it sounded like an interesting place for me to go, so I entered Asbury, let's see, yeah, after college, that's when I decided to go to seminary. So I did spend another summer, full summer at, in helping my brother, and then the following fall I entered Asbury Seminary for my first year.

MN: How were you able to fund all this education?

LW: Well, by that time we were able to get, my brother was now farming and he was able to have enough to take care of my expenses. So in addition to doing my work study I needed a little bit of cash to carry on the, my expenses, so my brother was able to help me take care of those, those expenses.

MN: Now, you entered the Asbury Theological Seminary School, but you did not finish that school. What happened?

LW: Right. At the end of the spring semester at the seminary I was asked by three men, three singers who were a part of a quartet if I would like to be with them and sing with, in a quartet with them, which I said, "Oh sure, I'd like to sing." I guess they knew that I liked to sing and I guess I had a decent voice, so I practiced with them for a little while and sang one of the parts of the quartet. And they said, "Great. When we come back this fall we want you to sing with us," so that was a final word I got just before I left to go back to Dinuba. They all went their way for the summer. So I worked that summer from, with my brother, helped him as much as I could, and the day before I was to jump on a friend's car and drive back with him to Kentucky I received this letter from the, the head of the quartet saying, "Because we will be singing in various communities in various churches, if they learn that there's a Japanese American member of the quartet we may face hostility and they may not invite us to sing in their church or sing in their community, so we decided that you will not be a part of this." By that time it was too late to make any changes. I had everything prepared, ready to enter my second year in seminary. Quartets were important at that time in the seminary because if they were good quartets, if they were people that could not only speak well, preach sermons and sing, quartets like that could be invited into churches and receive an honorarium, and some of the good quartets were able to pay for their seminary expenses with the honorariums that they received. So that's, that was the importance of being a part of a quartet, so that was cut out from under me.

MN: How did you feel about that whole incident?

LW: Well, I was really upset that I had to, had made all these plans and at the very last minute received this. But I guess at that time I was still, had the attitude of shikata ga nai, the same kind of attitude of acceptance of whatever comes just as we accepted the relocation order. So I said, well, if that's the way they are, that's, that's not, that's their responsibility. And I was able to, I shared that whole experience of being, of rejection with another person who was very sympathetic with me. She was really upset, but she, there was nothing she could do because I refused to really confront these three guys, so in my own mind I said, well, this is, so this is how some people are. Is this what goes on in theological seminary and even those who are committed to the ministry? So I began to have my doubts about that whole, that particular seminary and I decided that this is, that year was going to be my last seminary and I would finish up my work in Berkeley at the theological school right in Berkeley.

MN: So at the Kentucky, at the Asbury theological seminary, you were there for one, is it two years or one year?

LW: Two years.

MN: Two years. And then you went to the theological seminary at Berkeley Baptist Divinity School?

LW: Yes, it was called the Berkeley Baptist Divinity School at that time. The name changed and now it's known as American Baptist Seminary of the West.

MN: And you also went to the Pacific School of Religion?

LW: I took classes there. We were permitted to take classes at any of the seminaries in that area, so I took classes at both (Pacific School of Religion) and Berkeley Baptist Divinity School and I graduated in 1948. I received my degree, I think it was in '48. Yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

MN: When did you start getting involved, ministering to the San Francisco city and county jail inmates?

LW: Oh, that was quite a bit after the seminary experience. When I was enrolled as a student at the Baptist seminary for my last year I was also asked to be a pastor of the Berkeley Methodist Church, Japanese American, historically a Japanese American church, so I was like a student pastor while I was going to school. And I served that church for two years, from 1948 through 1950. Then in 1950, since I was ready for ordination in the Methodist denomination, I received my ordination in June of 1950 and was appointed to serve the Pine United Methodist Church in San Francisco, at that time was Pine Methodist Church. So that was my first assignment as an ordained pastor.

MN: And you ended up staying there for seventeen years, is that correct?

LW: Seventeen years, yes.

MN: And is that, is that where you started to... the jail inmates, that came in the '70s or '60s?

LW: That, that came in the '50s.

MN: Oh, '50s.

LW: Since I started Pine Church in 1950, I was a member of the San Francisco Council of Churches, a clergy, all of us clergy were invited to be (part of) a church organization, the Council of Churches, which had its own organization, but it coordinated, not coordinate, but it brought together all the pastors, Christian pastors in San Francisco. So under the Council of Churches there was a prison, jail, jail ministry, and the pastors volunteered to go out to the San Francisco city and county jail. I think once a week we held services at the city and county jail, so I volunteered to be on that list of pastors.

MN: Was it scary? Did any of the inmates ever threaten you?

LW: No. They were very well-behaved since we ran the chapel service. It was... I guess it was one particular day of the week that they had chapel service, so inmates could volunteer to go to the chapel service, so during, at the end of the chapel service we had a chance to talk with any of the inmates and many of them in that situation had requests, would you check with certain people in the city, and it was trying to be a communication link with the inmates and the, their friends or families in San Francisco. So that was a position that I volunteered in, volunteered for a number of years, then eventually they asked me to chair that committee and I had the assignment of recruiting pastors to fill out the schedule at the city and county jail, so I kept that for a number of years.

MN: Now, most of these inmates, what were the ethnic makeup of these people you'd minister to?

LW: Predominantly African American, a few others, Mexicans, Hispanics. I don't ever remember running into an Asian inmate. There may have been, but I don't remember.

MN: Now since they were predominantly African Americans, were they able to relate to you since you're an Asian American?

LW: Oh yes. Well, there was, I think they welcomed anybody from the outside and so, and this also a kind of break in their, their routine schedule, so they welcomed the chapel service and welcomed anybody that would talk with them and relate to them in a different way than what they experienced in the jail. So it was hopefully a kind of a humanizing experience for them to see somebody come in and visit with them.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

MN: During the 1960s you became more involved with the African American ministers and you were talking about the Sunday, September 15, 1963, when those four girls in, at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, were killed by a bomb.

LW: Yeah.

MN: Now how did, how did you get involved in that issue?

LW: Well, that was the part of the whole civil rights struggle that began in the late '50s, in the '50s, continued, and to me that was the ultimate atrocity against the, ultimate atrocity at that time for the death of these four children. And course, in the African American community there was a lot of support for the civil rights struggle and that incident triggered a -- if I remember correctly -- the coming together of the African American community in a rally, a march down Market Street from the Ferry Building to the city hall, and they invited any supporters to come and join them in that march and the rally. Course, by that time I had become acquainted with a number of African American pastors. The pastor of the big church in San Francisco, Jones Memorial, and he was a leader in the African American movement, I think he was heading up a NAACP, but he was the head of that calling for a rally, a march down Market Street, so I wanted to join them. That's the only, the least I could do in support of that struggle, and so I decided that, when that call came, that I would participate in that.

MN: Now, did you invite your congregation at Pine to join?

LW: Yes. By that time they knew of some of my involvement with the, with the civil rights struggle, and I felt like after this, at the conclusion of the service I needed to make, make a statement for myself and also invite people, so I announced to the congregation that Marion, my wife, and I will join that march down Market Street and invited any of the members of the congregation to join me. There were two others that did join, join me, join us, and we did, I think we were able to march most of the way down Market Street to the big rally at city hall. So that was my first, well, kind of public statement about where I was.

MN: What are your thoughts that only two people joined from Pine?

LW: I really wasn't disappointed. I was glad that two of them joined. I think this was so new to the congregation that they may have been caught off base on that, unaware that our, kind of unexpected. I could understand this because our efforts in the, through the church were focused on maybe a priority of helping us to get resettled, reestablish our lives in, in the city and on the West Coast, reestablish our lives after that experience in the United States. So I think the priority effort was there, and I could understand that. I could relate, that's what I'd been doing, but I felt like this is a time now that we can't say, close our eyes to what's happening in our country. We need to hear and to open our eyes to what's, what's going on. And this was a first public attempt, invitation for them to join us if they wished to.

MN: So in this public arena, you're very visible, did anybody from your congregation complain of your involvement?

LW: No, I never, I never got a negative feedback on that. I think most, if something like that happens in the Japanese American community there's no vocal expression. There may be some silence, silent questioning, but I think that's typical of our, the generation of that time, no vocal expression, but maybe questions and wondering.

MN: Now on this march and at this rally, did you see other Asian Americans involved?

LW: I don't remember. I guess I wasn't really looking for others. The other, in connection with that, well, connected to that, there was a support or service at the Grace Cathedral in memory of these four children, but also in support of the struggle, so there was a large group of people, congregation. We filled up Grace Cathedral, so those were the two experiences I had in connection. I may have, there may have been other Asians at the Grace Cathedral.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

MN: Now, during the 1960s, did you ever have an opportunity to return to the deep South?

LW: No, I didn't. I wanted to go, so committed to it because a friend of mine who was already a pastor of Glide Church, African American guy, I knew that he was, he had gone down there. And after he came back... and there were others across the country that were joining in, non-African Americans joining, I felt like I wanted to go, so I checked in with Cecil (Williams) and, the executive director of Glide Foundation at that time, about my participation, and they said, "The thing we need most, because there's so many people there, we don't need any more bodies. We need some funds to support." So I think I did something to raise funds and gave it to Glide to support. But the other thing that I did was to, I knew that the Presbyterian church pastor, Nicholas Iyoya -- the Presbyterian church is a historically Japanese American congregation -- so I said, after Nick returned I called him to say, asked him, "Nicholas, would you be willing to change pulpits with me? You come to my congregation on Sunday and give your statement about participating in that and I'll take over for you in your church?" So we were able to work an exchange in that way, and that was, it was good for the congregation to hear and to see another Asian American, a Japanese American person who had experienced the march, the civil rights struggle in the South.

MN: You know, but some people might say, well, this is not a subject that affects Japanese Americans, why are you involved?

LW: Yeah. Oh, right from the beginning I could connect the experience of injustice of the camps to, to the injustice that was going on anywhere, specifically at that time with the, in the civil rights struggle. And the more I experienced that, the more I began to see the connection, the stronger I felt about that and tried to help people make that connection. It didn't always happen, but I think some of the progressive folks, especially the younger folks, began to make that kind of connection.

MN: But some people also say that Sunday mornings is when the United States is the most segregated, African Americans go to the African American church, Japanese Americans go to the Japanese American church, and the Caucasians go to the white churches. And what are your thoughts about that when someone says something like that?

LW: When it came specifically to the African and the white, well, I said yeah, that is the most separate, and I think early in that, in my ministry, that was not, I felt like that was not right that that was the most separated, the most segregated hour. But when, as I experienced the, what the impact of the civil rights struggle was, is and was at that time, the impact of the Asian American experience is and was at that time, I began to see, yeah, it may be, there may be some reason why it is the most segregated hour, because we who have experienced what we've experienced in terms of injustice, being second class citizens, being at home among people who have experienced the same thing, feeling a sense of ownership and community of our own experience, it's reasonable that we be, that we, it is the most segregated hour. And if we are to ever overcome that, then there are other things that need to happen. It has to be a two way kind of thing, the majority community willing to come and make concessions or be transformed to the extent that they understand what we went through, as well as our transformation, relating our experience to making, helping our community, both the community out there and the church community, be whole, then it has to come together. And it takes a lot of transformation on the part of the majority and the minority communities.

MN: Now after seventeen years with Pine you left and you went out to Glide Memorial Church.

LW: Yes.

MN: And Glide is a very, very progressive church. I think it's one of the most progressive in the nation, is that correct?

LW: Could be. It was at that time, I think, something really out front, and some would call it avant-garde, but I think we were really in the forefront of what we, what I would call urban ministry.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

MN: Okay. Now, when you joined Glide were they already involved with the Third World Student Strike, the Third World Strike?

LW: The Glide journey really begins before I went to Glide. I was asked to serve as a member of the board of trustees of Glide Foundation, so I think they asked, invited me to be a board member because of my, I guess it was a reputation of being, of trying to be relevant to the, to the many changes that were going on within the church and the community. They knew about that, so that's why they invited me, even while I was a pastor of Pine Church, to be a member of the board of trustees, so in the, in the board meetings, of course, we knew, we learned about the ministry of Glide Church. So I was very supportive of that, and being a member of the board of trustees, they knew where my heart and head was, very supportive of that progressive ministry. So by 1967 I knew pretty much about what Glide was, how the ministry of Glide.

MN: So how were you involved with the Third World Strike at San Francisco State?

LW: I think it was in the second, let's see, I went there in '67, the Third World Strike, I think, was '68, when the things began to happen on the campus. So when some of the, couple of the Glide staffpeople went out to SF State, I decided I needed to, I'd like to go with them, so I went with them. I think at that time there was, Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani were supportive of the students, and I wanted to go, so on one of the trips out to SF State while they were, the Third World students were on strike and were on, marching on the campus, I joined them and so that was my, and I felt very much at home because I felt like this was part of my ministry. At that time my title was Minister of Community Life, so that meant that the community was not only in Glide, those who came to Glide, but the community was out there where people were in the struggle for justice, for equality, for recognition. So the Third World student strike felt like this is where I need to belong, this was part of my community.

MN: Did you ever have any conversations with S.I. Hayakawa?

LW: Yes. We went to, when the San Francisco JACL decided to honor him at a dinner down at one of the wharf restaurants or, yeah, one of the restaurants here, those of us who were, supported the students joined the students in picketing the dinner at which he was honored. So we were able to march. That was one of the meetings that we had with, not with Dr. Hayakawa, but in opposition to his presence and tactics during the strike.

MN: Now, you had an incident where a Japanese American called you a "nigger lover." Can you share with us that experience?

LW: Yeah, I think some of the Japanese American community thought that my involvement at Glide, also involvement with the student strike, Third World student strike was really an African American issue, and they, they identified me as one who was with them, supporting that, this struggle that is unrelated to us as Japanese Americans. So I went into a store, a shop that was run by Japanese Americans and wanted to buy some, buy some equipment, and while I was talking and making a, trying to decide what to purchase, one of the persons in the store came up to me, a Japanese American, and called me a "nigger lover." I was shocked and didn't respond. I just shook my head and then went on, but he, he didn't, at least he didn't stay there and confront me, put his face in my face. He walked away. And I thought about that for quite a while, and then thought I, well, I felt like I needed to let him know what was going on with me and so I wrote him a letter saying that, "Being called what you called me is in a way an honor because I remember when I was a kid, Dr. Frank Herron Smith, who was a Methodist, who was a supervisor of the Japanese American Methodist churches, was called a 'Jap lover' before, just before the evacuation because he went, he stuck his neck out, talked to as many people as he could, made public, wrote letters to editors, went on the radio saying that we should not be evacuating the Japanese as some of the people are now talking about, it would be a terrible mistake. And because of that he earned the title of 'Jap lover,' so I'm, in a way, that's a real credit to me that you likened me to, or linked me, that I linked myself with him."

MN: You turned it around.

LW: Yeah.

MN: Did you ever get any response to that?

LW: Actually, no, I don't think, I don't remember anybody ever mentioning that to me.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

MN: Now I know Glide was very involved with the Third World Strike, did they get involved with the Native Americans when they occupied Alcatraz in '69?

LW: Oh, Third World Strike, not that I remember, but I do remember the Golden Gate JACL, that was a, kind of like a, the more radical, or you might call the progressive JACLers had a Golden Gate chapter. And one of the things they decided to do was to get on a boat and go to Alcatraz, and they may have brought some goodies with them in support when they, when they were on Alcatraz. I wanted to go on that. I was down there ready to get on the boat, but a friend of mine who's a photographer had never... 'course, I knew he wanted to go out and I said to him, "You take my place. You go ahead," because I'd been there already. I'd gone by myself to Alcatraz. Actually, my wife and I went by ourselves to Alcatraz during that, when they were there because a Methodist publication -- it's a monthly publication that specializes in doing stories and articles about Methodist outreach mission -- knew that I was in San Francisco and asked me to do a story for their publication about the occupation of Alcatraz. So I arranged with the council, that was a Native American council that clears these trips, I cleared with them, they gave me permission to go out and do this story. So since I had been there and did this story I said, "You go ahead and take my place," 'cause I'd been there, so that, I don't know if he took any pictures, but at least he, I think the Golden Gate chapter of the JACL has some historic pictures of the journey to Alcatraz. I think there was, it was a boatload of people. There must've been about eighteen or nineteen JAers there.

MN: When you and your wife went on your own earlier, what was the reception from the Native Americans?

LW: Oh, they were very cordial. They were proud of what they were doing, what they were trying to do, and they took us around and showed us the various things that were happening in terms of cooking meals, craftwork, auto, they were taking care of vehicles, auto mechanics, they were, they showed us all the activities that were going on in Alcatraz.

MN: Now you also mentioned the Golden Gate JACL, are you one of the cofounders?

LW: I don't think I was a cofounder. When I learned about them, they were in college and friends, I said, oh yeah, I'll be a part of this, so there were others, like Ray Okamura and Paul and Mary Ann Takagi that were the initiators of it, and Edison Uno, I think, was a part of the Golden Gate chapter.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

MN: Now, in 1975, Wendy Yoshimura, who was connected with the Revolutionary Army and the Symbionese Liberation Army, was arrested in San Francisco with Patty Hearst. How did you get involved in that case?

LW: There was a, we had heard smatterings of Wendy's as the FBI was trying to track her down, and then there was a story, photo story on page one -- I think it was the, it must've been the Chronicle -- of her father in, a gardener in Fresno in the midst of his gardening, and said this is Wendy Yoshimura's father. So that caught our attention, and so it was either that day or maybe the next day that I called Roy Sano, who was teaching at Mills College at that time, he later became a bishop of the United Methodist Church, and I mentioned to him, we had been in conversation on a number of things and I said, "Roy, we really need to check out the Yoshimura family. Let's try to find out more about the family. And can you, let's get a group of us together." So it was either that evening or the next evening that we gathered a group of six or seven of us at Glide Church, and we met and decided what can we do to learn more about this situation? And so Edison Uno said, "Well, the next day, tomorrow I'm going down to Fresno. I'll go down and check out as much as possible." So he did report back a couple days later. We gathered again and found out more about (her mother and father). I forgot his first name. Anyway, the Yoshimuras, they were both gardeners that, the Fresno, he was a member of the Fresno Buddhist Church. There was a, his insurance agent was close to the situation and seemed to be the communications link between the Yoshimuras and the rest of the community, so this was the report that Edison brought back, and we said, "We really need to get the whole Japanese American community here in San Francisco together," so I think it was the following, we decided to get a, have a meeting the following Sunday and they decided to meet at Glide Church. And about seventy, eighty people showed up. We got the word out as best we could. It may, we may have had time to get out a notice in the papers. At that time we had two dailies, so we could get the word out very quickly. So a good number of mostly young people showed up at the meeting and decided how to do, first they decided to become a committee in support of Wendy. They asked me to be the chair, so I said, "Okay, I'll do it," knowing that we have a great group of young people to be a part of the committee.

MN: And how did the Yoshimura family react to this involvement from the Japanese American community?

LW: We didn't get any public notices. Anything they did they spoke to, I think they related it to whoever they could, probably the real estate agent, not the real estate, the insurance agent in Fresno, and then he would communicate with us. But there was no official word: "Yeah, we really appreciate that." I think it was really Wendy herself and then her supporters that, that said we're doing a very important thing to form this committee and in support.

MN: Now were, was the committee able to keep her out of jail?

LW: Yes, because we raised enough bail money to keep her out. Edison did a lot of work around that. He went to a number of Japanese-owned businesses. He himself plunked in some money, and enough, I think we had to raise fifty thousand bail in order to keep her out, and we were able to meet that. I think a lot of the community, several of community pitched in to be able to put together fifty thousand.

MN: Ultimately, though, during trial she was convicted and she served some time, I think that, that was the result.

LW: Yes, she did serve time.

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

<Begin Segment 26>

MN: Now during the redress movement in the 1980s you were involved in a number of organizations. Can you share with us how you got involved with the National Council for Japanese American Redress?

LW: I think there were some of us, and I had support among others, and I heard about Bill Hohri, and we felt like this was a good way to go. And Bill Hohri, going directly with a class action suit rather than going through all the other organizational efforts to bring together the community, we felt that that was the direct route, and so through that effort some of us became supportive of the NCJAR.

MN: Now William Hohri was really active with the United Methodist churches in Chicago. Did you know him through that at all?

LW: Only, yeah, only through publicity in the media, Japanese American media, and then because of that, at that time he was able to go from place to place. We asked him to come to San Francisco and spend time with some of us who were supportive of the NCJAR, so he spoke. We had an evening meeting, and he shared his story and the progress that was being made with NCJAR. So at that we were able to support him while he was still with, in Chicago.

MN: You know, when redress, the movement started, did you ever think that the government would issue an apology and reparations?

LW: Well, I was very doubtful about that. I felt it was important, but whether or not we, the Japanese community could really come together enough to exert enough influence and power to do that, I had my doubts. I guess it picked up, began to pick up some momentum when we saw NCCR, National Coalition for Redress and Reparations, I guess that's NCRR, NCJAR, and the JACL began to at least seem to be working together, building up some momentum. I guess optimism began to flower.

MN: Now, in either 1999 or the year 2000, you were involved in the interfaith group that passed a resolution in support of the World War II Nisei draft resisters. How did you get involved in that issue?

LW: We had an organization called Council for Pacific Asian Theology, which was supportive of dialogue with the, among various Christian groups, dialogue, interaction, interrelationship with Buddhists, so out of that we had a meeting here and we, and at that meeting we were able to support a resolution in support of the JACL issuing an apology to the resisters. So that was an effort that included Buddhists, Christians, and some community people, so we felt like it was important to support the JACL's effort to issue an apology.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

MN: Now, you also have an arrest record. Can you share with us what happened?

LW: [Laughs] Yeah, an arrest record, well, it really happened out of the, in San Francisco we had a, a strong group of anti martial law in the Philippines. It was an anti Marcos, during the anti-Marcos regime, and so I was related to that movement. It was my son who became involved with the anti-martial law group very intentionally, and he put a lot of effort and commitment to that, here in the San Francisco area and then later it broadened out to, across the, like a national organization. But what got him going in the anti-martial law group was he spent two, I think two months as an intern in a youth program of the World Council of Churches that supported youth to go to different countries to spend time, and so I asked him if he would be willing, interested in going to the Philippines on a two months' internship, as a student. He said, "Yes, I would be," so he and another person, colleague, Norman Fong of San Francisco, a Presbyterian minister, Presbyterian minister who was doing community work. The two of them spent time in the Philippines meeting with the people, specifically up in the mountains that were experiencing some of the repression and the problems with Ferdinand Marcos and his regime. So he came back really committed to the ending of the martial law, or getting rid of Marcos in the Philippines, so he and a group had decided to sit in at the Philippine consulate on a given day, on a certain morning. They had this all planned out. They had the committee of about six people, and they walked into my office, two of them walked into my office at Glide on that morning, and they said, "Well, would you be willing to go with us to a sit-in at the Philippine consulate? We had asked a Catholic minister to join us, but we don't know where he is. We can't find him. We need a clergyman to be with us." So I said, well, and I thought, well, all those times we talked about supporting each other, supportive of each other, during the Third World Strike I supported Steve, Steve and my family supported me, I need to be, put my feet where my, my mouth has been, so I said, "Okay, I'll go."

And so we went into the office and he got, they got in, we all got in because they were, two of them that led the way, they were asked, they had asked for visas to go to the Philippines. "We've come in to see if we can get visas to the Philippines." And that's how the entrance was made. As soon as we moved in we said, the leaders of that were Steve and Weldon Bello, said, "We're not going to leave until you call Ferdinand Marcos to lift martial law." Well, a ridiculous request. [Laughs] But they were, that was the thing that would, the reason why we would not leave, because that was the reason for our sit-in, so we did not move and eventually after half hour or so of stand off the consulate called in the, at that time they called it the TAC Squad, people who, police who were trained to take care of situations like this. So they carried us all out one by one and booked us at the county, city jail here. We were booked there, and after several hours there they released us on own recognizance. Because before they asked me, when I, they asked me about joining them they said, "If you join us you'll need to call some friend or relative who would vouch for you so you can, if they give it to us, get out on 'own recognizance,'" so I, when I said okay I called Marion, my wife, and told her what was going on and that, "You may get a call from the police department about OR, own recognizance." So after a couple of hours there we were able to go out, I mean, we were released.

But we were brought to trial about ten days later, maybe two weeks later in preparation for the trial, so we went through the one week trail and the charges were disrupting lawful, yeah, disrupting lawful business and resisting... no, what was it? I forget what, there were two charges, I already forgot. Anyway, so the sentencing took place several days later, which was prison terms for the, for all, and I said I will plead community service, and I told the rest of the group, the other six, "I can't go to jail with you guys." This is the busiest time at Glide Church. It was Christmas, just before the Christmas season, "and we've got so many community things going I've got to be there, so I'm gonna (plead 'community service.'") So they agreed to that, so they spent the time in jail. We got them, they were able to get out prior to the full sentence because of the community, Philippine community, anti-martial law community got together and put the pressure on the sheriff to let them out early. I think they served probably about four to five weeks. In addition to that they went on a hunger strike, the six of them. That got a lot of publicity.

MN: Did this experience make your bond with your son Steve stronger?

LW: Oh yes, I think so. I think he recognized that, that there were things that, well, and Steve has remained, actually, our whole family, I'm very proud of them, they are progressive. Steve went on to do some great things with the Philippine community nationally, and then he decided he's got to settle down and start a family. So he went to work in, as a, in the Post Office, started out from the bottom, gradually worked himself up, and then he decided to quit the Post Office. Because he was a UC graduate and working in the parts department, kind of a high level job in the Oakland Post Office, and they gave him a job of being the post, being in charge of the environmental, what do they call it, meeting all the environmental requirements, EPA requirements. But as a young man trying to tell these old guys that, "You got to shape up environmentally, do some of the things that are required in order for us to be environmentally, meet the requirements, you've got to shape up," but he found so much resistance he gave that up and became, got into public school teaching. [Laughs] So he's one of the, of our (four) children with whom I feel very close to because all of them have supported Marion, myself, and we've supported them in their very, what I would call progressive movements, progressive vocations or progressive, supportive of progressive movements.

MN: Now, when you met your wife, Marion, was she already progressive, or did she evolve as, after you got married?

LW: Well, I think all of us grew in our awareness and consciousness of issues. Yes, Marion, has really been very, very progressive, both in terms of her religious faith, her religious commitments, and also community and political commitments.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

MN: How much impact did the camp experience have on your involvement later in life with all these progressive movements?

LW: Well, it took some growing up, some development on my part because as, the more we got into civil rights issues, the more we got into what youth and young people were saying about the camps and calling attention to the issues that, or the experiences that we went through in camp, the more I began to realize this is, our camp experience is, has to be a part of our lives. It is a part of our lives, a very important part, and it ought to shape our spirits, our hearts, our minds about anything that puts people down or treats them as unequal, treats them unjustly. So the camp experience is really related to the, all the other issues that we need, we should, we ought to be facing when people are treated unfairly, unjustly. It's very much a part of my life and my commitment.

MN: Are you involved in any projects right now?

LW: Well, as much as possible, support as much as I can the movements that are taking place, like the issue against the Muslims and the kind of treatment that they are going through, being treated as the enemy and being jailed without charges. So those are the things I support as much as I physically can. They only other thing that is going on is that Marion and I, my wife and I, are involved in a documentary about our lives and our, hopefully this will be helpful to people. So when the documentarian asked us about doing this a year and a half ago, we both said, well, we're getting on in years and we don't know, our energy is low, and we're not, we don't think there'll be too many people interested in seeing a documentary about us. But she said, "Well, maybe this is the, the last thing you might, you can do as a legacy for your family and the community," and so we said, "Well, okay, we'll go with it." So we're just, we're about, close to the finish line in terms of that, so that's one thing that we're looking forward to and hopefully it will have some meaning and some help to the, both the church and the, a wider community.

MN: Well, I want to thank you for also doing this Densho interview for us, and...

LW: Well, again, I guess it's like, if it's going to mean something to people, have real meaning for people, sure, glad to share what we have to share.

MN: Well, thank you very much. I have asked all my questions. Do you have any other thing you want to add?

LW: No. Hopefully all that you're, Densho is doing and the interviews that you're doing will be as helpful to remember the internment experience so that things like that in any form will not happen to any community, any group of people.

MN: Thank you.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.