Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Marshall M. Sumida Interview
Narrator: Marshall M. Sumida
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: April 8, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-smarshall-01

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

<Begin Segment 1>

MN: Okay, today is April 8, 2011. We are at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco. We will be interviewing Marshall Sumida. On video camera is Dana Hoshide, and interviewing will be Martha Nakagawa. Marshall, let's start with your father's name.

MS: Shimata.

MN: And your mother's name?

MS: Masako Murakami Sumida.

MN: Which prefecture did they come from?

MS: Okayama.

MN: Can you share a little bit about your father's background?

MS: My family background?

MN: Father's.

MS: My father, he's from Okayama. He was a third son of a farm family, so because of he's a third son, by Japanese custom, the first two sons are, inherit the family business, and so he was told early to, that he would be on his own. I think on his own prerogative, since he had to be on his own, he wanted to come to America. But I never really got to know my father because I didn't speak Japanese and we were learning, going to Japanese to learn how to speak a family conversation, but I never really got to talk to him about his life.

MN: Now, when he came to United States, what kind of business did he get into?

MS: Well, when he came to United States he came from a farming family, so he first landed in Vancouver and then he walked down across and ended up in Florin, near Sacramento, and was helping in the farm association, farmers. Then after he got married to my mother they slowly migrated down to Los Angeles. I don't know how he got into this business, but an Issei family named Mogi was, had a sewing machine business. I think they had a Singer franchise, but the Japanese income was so low that they can't afford to buy new, new sewing machines, so my father started to sell used Singer sewing machines. Since they were in the sewing machine business nobody, Japanese didn't know how to use a sewing machine, so my mother became a seamstress and learned how to use the, sew with a Singer sewing machine a little. I had three older sisters, so she became a dressmaker, dressing my three older sisters, and she got to be a pretty good seamstress, so when, when the boys came she, we were, she also sewed the clothes for us. And some of the clothes that she made looked feminine. It was, and she, the shirts that we were in were sewn like a woman's blouse, but she used good material, linen and things like that 'cause it was, when, whenever I dressed in one of my mother's clothes that she made, the teachers would use me as a model and show my mother's skill on it. It worked out that my father's business, she was a, became an important part of it, that teaching the farmers' wives how to sew with a sewing machine. So the former owner, that was fairly successful, so he retired and went back to Japan and lived comfortably. My father was, eventually had six children, so had to work, but by the time I graduated high school in, that was in '39, but before, I guess business depression, so because of the, my mother's help and my sisters working for a Japanese trading company, food, we were able to survive, but if, the business depression, business was so bad that, luckily, luckily, because of the war, we didn't have to declare bankruptcy because of the high risk of bankrupt businesses, so we were able to salvage whatever we could and sell. Because we learned about the evacuation early, my father, my mother liquidated the business by help of my brother in law. My father was picked up shortly after the war by the FBI and taken to Fort Missoula, Montana, so my brother was shouldered with the responsibility of closing the family business. But fortunately, we didn't have to go bankruptcy, because of the war.

MN: Where was your father's business located?

MS: In Little Tokyo, in Los Angeles. 325, I think, 327 East First Street, right across the street from the Fuji Theater.

MN: Now, there's two addresses. Your father had the Singer sewing machine company, and then he had another business. What was the other business?

MS: Well, he liked sports, so he had a sporting goods store, and he was interested in the Japanese sports. They had a baseball league, Los Angeles Nippon and stuff like that. And later on, when the Niseis grew up, then we had the various Japanese clubs in different parts of L.A., which started the league in basketball and baseball and things like that.

MN: What was your father's business called?

MS: C. Sumida & Company. Yeah, later it was Sumida & Son, but not for long. I was, I'm the son, but I was never in business.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

MN: Now, your parents had six children. Where are you in the sibling hierarchy?

MS: Number four. I'm the first son.

MN: Fourth child, first son.

MS: Fourth, yeah.

MN: But first son.

MS: Yeah.

MN: And there's a joke between your older sister and you when you came along. What's, what's the running joke?

MS: What?

MN: You and your older sister, you joke around. She used to be the favorite child before you came around.

MS: Yeah, the third child, third sister. So having three girls, my father wanted a boy, so when I came I guess the love shifted from my third sister to me, 'cause she kind of resented the fact that I came, but I say I had nothing to do with it. [Laughs] But anyway, I was, in fact, I wasn't even aware that that kind of a relationship existed, but anyway...

MN: What is your birth name?

MS: My first name?

MN: Birth, when you were born, what was, what's on your birth certificate?

MS: Marshall Sumida (...).

MN: Did you have a Japanese name?

MS: Masaru.

MN: How did you get the name Marshall?

MS: My father, waiting for the first son, I bet on him having picked out the name earlier, and he also picked out the name Masaru because the kanji for that was taisho no sho. So I bet on he put a lot of thought of having a son and making sure the name fitted.

MN: So he put the taisho no sho, Masaru, so if you kind of freely translated it was kind of like the General Marshall, is that how you got Marshall?

MS: I think Marshall, the French. I think, I'm not too sure, but evidently he put a lot of thought in selecting the name. My brother's name is Theodore, and his source is Theodore Roosevelt, who was the president at the time he was born, I guess.

MN: Now, what year were you born?

MS: 1921.

MN: And where were you born?

MS: Los Angeles.

MN: Boyle Heights?

MS: Yeah.

MN: At your home?

MS: Yeah, at the home.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

MN: Now what area of Boyle Heights did your family live in?

MS: You know where the Japanese hospital is? That's on First Street, and they lived about a mile away, south of Whittier Boulevard, around the same area, so we lived in Boyle Heights, but we didn't live near the Japanese community. Yeah.

MN: Now, in comparison to the other homes at that time, would you consider your home small, medium, or large?

MS: What?

MN: Your home that you lived in, you grew up in.

MS: What, it was what kind of home?

MN: Was it, was it a small home, was it a large home?

MS: Middle size, I guess. We had two houses on the property, so we had eight, eight people in the family, so my brother and I lived in the back house, the second house. And we had a couple of other roomers there, Ben Oshima and Mr. Nakayama, but, but we had a lot of room, lived a comfortable life.

MN: Now your father was doing fairly well with his business. In 1932, when the Los Angeles Olympic --

MS: Well, depression at '32.

MN: '32, but when the Japanese Olympic team came over, they came to your house.

MS: Yeah, they visited. My father, having a sporting goods store, tried to befriend the members of the Japanese Olympic team, and I remember some of them visiting the house 'cause the fifty yard dash, Yoshioka, who was the fifty yard dash champ, came over. I remember him. But I was still young, only eleven years old.

MN: Did they stay at your home?

MS: What?

MN: Did they stay at your home?

MS: No. No, they lived in the Olympic Village. They visited.

MN: Now, your family, your father liked to invite a lot of people. Did a lot of the Japanese naval officers stay at your house?

MS: Not, well, since he was in business we had a lot of visitors, and when the renshu kantai, the Japanese training ships came in, some of them were invited to, to visit our home. Most of them wanted to visit an American home, so they welcomed the chance. Then my mother was a pretty good cook, so she fed them.

MN: So when they came to your house, what sort of activities did they do at your home?

MS: I don't know. I don't remember what activities they would, but my father used to try to orient them to the Japanese style of living at that particular time. If you remember, in 1910 the Japanese immigrants were denied American citizenship, so it wasn't, it wasn't a good period, time to, to really show them much of America, because at that time they weren't as welcome as they are now.

MN: But your father was very active socially and it sounds like he was very, he was a community leader in the Japanese --

MS: What?

MN: Your father was a Japanese American community leader.

MS: Yeah, well, in Little Tokyo, since he had a business there and his business was oriented towards Japanese, businesses in Japan. It sounds like it was a good period, but it was in the Depression, so business wasn't that good.

MN: So if your father's customers couldn't pay, how did he deal with that?

MS: The what?

MN: If your father's customers could not pay, how did your father deal with these customers?

MS: Well, usually they, my father packed the sewing machine so the legs wouldn't break and things like that, and they took 'em on their own training ship back to Japan, so most of these guys training were officer candidates, so the officers of the ships themselves were ones that could afford to buy, not the, not the trainees. So they, in order to take care of their own parts, but when he accommodated, so my father didn't have to ship, pay for the shipping.

MN: So these Japanese officers who come on the ships, they bought a lot of your father's sewing machines?

MS: Yeah, for their family.

MN: And they took it back to Japan?

MS: Yeah. Well, that's why the, Japan didn't have anything anyway, and they were buying for the home or they probably were buying all kinds of weapons, too, but my father wasn't in the weapon business.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

MN: Now, you grew up in Boyle Heights, which Japanese school did you go to?

MS: First one we went to was Chuo Gakuen. It still exists. And then Cedric Shimo's mother started Japanese, so we went to her school. And later on, while we're in junior high school, we didn't go to school every day, so we went to Saturday school in Compton.

MN: Compton Gakuen?

MS: Yeah.

MN: Why did you switch to --

MS: Once a week. Huh?

MN: Why did you switch to Compton Gakuen?

MS: Well, my father knew the principal of the school. They're tennis partners, playing tennis together. So, but one day the principal told my father that he doesn't think he wants to teach sons of a, of his personal friends because it'll bring the reputation of the school down, scholastically. [Laughs] But anyway, so I wasn't considered a very good student academically.

MN: Now, when you were at Chuo Gakuen, did you take kendo?

MS: Yeah.

MN: Who was your teacher?

MS: Cedric Shimo's father was the teacher, and he was a personal friend of my father, so, so again, they made an exception by accepting the problem child, problem student.

MN: So your family was very close with the Shimo family.

MS: What?

MN: Your family was close with the Shimo family.

MS: Yeah.

MN: Cedric remembers going to your house when the Olympic team was there, and he says your house was very, a very big house by the standards of the day.

MS: Well, could be, yeah. I don't know that it... that's the house I was born and lived in, but the other guys were living in smaller houses, yeah.

MN: Now, when you took kendo practice, where was the practices held?

MS: In Evergreen Playground gym.

MN: You talked about winning a kendo tournament.

MS: What?

MN: You won a kendo tournament.

MS: Well, when I was a beginner I was, I had to stay on the weekends with Cedric and we learned, I learned how to, lot of kendo tactics, not from his father, but from Cedric. And some of, some of the exercises I used to learn was forbidden, but since Cedric and I were just fooling around we just tried 'em, and then in the beginners' tournament I ended, I happened to use one of the illegal tactics and, but, but they let me score. I did so well that, by accident -- anyway, I wasn't, I wasn't a good kendo, but that tournament I happened to win. My reputation was established, but Cedric was a better kendo, since his father was a teacher.

MN: Now were you in the Chuo Gakuen Boy Scouts?

MS: What?

MN: Were you in the Chuo Gakuen Boy Scouts?

MS: No, not the Chuo Gakuen, but at the Evergreen Baptist Church. Yeah. I don't think the Chuo Gakuen had Boy Scouts there. The famous troop was 379.

MN: Koyasan?

MS: Downtown, yeah. But I wasn't a good Boy Scout either. Cedric was, became a Life Scout. He didn't quite make Eagle, but maybe I got to be second class or something, but everything I did was mediocre. [Laughs]

MN: Now, you went to Euclid Grammar School.

MS: What?

MN: Euclid Grammar School?

MS: Yeah.

MN: What was the student population demographics?

MS: Well, I don't know what it was then, but there was only one Japanese boy and one Japanese girl. There were three of us in the grammar school when I was there, but my sisters were going, went to the same school, but they, they had graduated way ahead of me.

MN: What about the rest of the student population?

MS: I don't remember. Most of 'em were Mexican.

MN: Did you pick up Spanish?

MS: Huh?

MN: Did you speak Spanish?

MS: No, but I learned all the Japanese words, I mean swear words in Spanish, Mexican, before I knew what they meant.

MN: Now, your home in Boyle Heights --

MS: What?

MN: Did your family own the home in Boyle Heights?

MS: Yes.

MN: Through who's name?

MS: My oldest sister's name. They had a, a Hawaiian Nisei became the trustee, but, until my sisters were old enough.

MN: Were your parents active in the Okayama Kenjinkai?

MS: Apparently so. He was, I guess he was the president a number of times.

MN: Did they have meetings at your home?

MS: No, they had it downtown. I don't remember them. I remember having visitors from... Cedric's father is Okayama, too.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

MN: What memories do you have of the Okayama Kenjinkai picnics?

MS: They, we had an annual picnic in the summer, and we looked forward to them because they had races and things like that, games and were giving out prizes to the winners, so we enjoyed them and we kept going. But, but it was only a short time span.


MN: We were talking about the Okayama Kenjinkai picnics.

MS: Yeah.

MN: Where were they held at?

MS: Azusa Canyon. Most of the time, the one I remember.

MN: How many people used to come out?

MS: Oh, several hundred, I guess. Yeah, we had a lot of races with all the kids. I'm just imagining it. I don't really know.

MN: It was a lot of people.

MS: Yeah.

MN: How about Brighton Beach? Did your family take trips to Brighton Beach?

MS: Yeah, on hot summer days we... Brighton Beach was a sort of an attraction point for the Japanese community, so, it was on Terminal Island, so we looked forward to the automobile trip ride down there, and the beaches there. And the, my sisters and their friends used to have beach parties, weenie bakes and things like that, but I was too young to...

MN: Did you interact with the Japanese American Terminal Islanders there?

MS: Did we mingle?

MN: Yeah.

MS: No, not at that time, but because of my father's business, I guess he did, with the fishermen. But the children, never, until the war started and the Terminal Island people had to move out, then we met quite a few. They, they moved into Boyle Heights.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

MN: Now, you attended Hollenbeck Junior High School.

MS: Yeah.

MN: And then Roosevelt High School.

MS: Right.

MN: At, in high school, what sports did you get involved in?

MS: I played golf.

MN: Was golf popular with the Nisei?

MS: No. There was only a couple of us whose father played that, but every time we had a chance to go play golf we'd cut class and go to Montebello Golf Course. And this three of us and a fourth guy who had graduated high school but he used to, he was a gardener, and he used to come and play with us. Ajioka, the other guy.

MN: How did you get interested in golf?

MS: I was, my father played so I caddied for him.

MN: Who did your father play with?

MS: Other Issei, Kaz Hori's father. And there was a, in those days they had a Japanese, several Japanese golf clubs, Yojioki, and a few, my father belonged to all of them. I like golf.

MN: Did you experience discrimination on the golf course?

MS: I guess they did, but we managed to play as long as we can pay the fee, so it was business for them.

MN: Now, most Nisei boys were playing football or baseball, not --

MS: Basketball, yeah.

MN: So did you get teased at all for playing golf?

MS: What?

MN: Did you get teased? Did you get picked on for playing golf?

MS: No, not teased, but, I wouldn't say I was teased, but we, they made fun of us and we, but after we all grew up every one of the guys that made fun of us, they thought we're lucky we learned how to play golf early. In fact, some of our friends from school days in L.A. still play golf yet. Yas Tanaka is.

MN: Now, sports like golf and kendo are very expensive because you have to buy equipment.

MS: But my father had a store, so he sold it. But I didn't get the best, we got the ones that he couldn't sell. [Laughs] But the Japanese, they always wanted to buy the best equipment, so with all, we got the worst my father, the goods that he couldn't sell. We'd get 'em. But that's alright to me. At that time I didn't know good or bad or anything else, so we were thankful for whatever we, they were willing to give us.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

MN: Now, as a teenager, were you in a Japanese gang?

MS: No, but I, if you're referring to... I was visiting my father's store all the time, so I would be, so the local groups, Olivers and the Exclusive 20s, were in Japanese town a little, so we'd get, they'd look for guys like loners or something, so we got in all kinds of fights. But my father didn't encourage us fighting, but he says you got to be able to care of yourself, so we got into quite a few number of fights with the local, but I never really got beat up or anything. But we used to, we learned how to defend ourselves, so after a while, when I started going to college they didn't, they never bothered us, but I remember going to the self defense class, boxing, at college and we got to be pretty good boxers. Then they left us alone. But I used to like to box with the guys bigger than me, but I got knocked out once by a bigger guy, but other than that it didn't, it didn't bother us that bad.

MN: So you mentioned the Olivers and the Exclusive 20s.

MS: Yeah.

MN: They're downtown boys. You're a Boyle Heights boy.

MS: Yeah.

MN: Is that why they went after you when you went --

MS: Yeah, Cedric was a Cougar, and Paul Bannai, Paul Nagano were Golden Bears. I was a Golden Bear, but the Cougars was a tough group, too, so they're the ones that fought with us, the Exclusive 20s and the San Pedro, Terminal Island.

MN: The Cougars made it into the Rafu Shimpo, I think, one time.

MS: What?

MN: The Cougars made it into the Rafu Shimpo one time, because they had a huge fight.

MS: I don't know if it was Cedric, there was, on Fresno Street in between First and Fourth, where the, most of the guys were living, Cedric was living near there too, but they were good athletes also. In fact, the Roosevelt High School lightweight football team, mostly Niseis, class B, but most of those guys were from the Cougars. And so about the fights that they had then, not really that bad, but not like they are now where they have firearms and things like that, but no, nothing like that. We'd get a black eye or something, but that's about it. [Laughs]

MN: Did you get picked on because your family seemed like they were more well to do also?

MS: What?

MN: Did you get picked on because some people might think your family was more well to do?

MS: I don't know whether they were well to do, but because my father had a business in Little Tokyo and we were able to live a little differently than, I guess, it caught our eye, little jealousies when we're that young, but to me it wasn't that bad. From, if we got into fights, there's [inaudible] all of that game, but nobody really got hurt.

MN: Now, you went into Little Tokyo quite a lot, and before the war Little Tokyo had lots of Chinese restaurants.

MS: Yeah, Sanko Low, Niko Low, Lem, yeah.

MN: Lentolo.

MS: And so whenever we had a celebration for dinner my father used to take us to either Niko Low or Sanko Low, and later on Lem, but I enjoyed the Chinese food, yeah. Learned how to eat chow mein and water chestnuts.

MN: What were some of the favorite China meshi?

MS: What?

MN: What were some of the favorite China meshi dishes? Favorite?

MS: Dishes?

MN: Uh-huh.

MS: Yeah, chow mein, for instance. There was a Chinese restaurant across the street from our high school, Roosevelt High School on Fourth Street, and when we forgot to take our lunch then we'd go to the Chinese restaurant and order the chow mein for thirty cents. That was a good meal.

MN: When you graduated from Roosevelt High School, was it understood that you would go to college? Did your parents expect you to go to college?

MS: Yeah. Well, we were supposed to go to L.A., Los Angeles City College, but then they said, "With your grades in high school," says, "you're qualified to go to UCLA," but, that's a little bit more expensive, but so I told my parents that I was qualified and he says, well, go, enroll. So out of the Japanese I graduated, my class, only, I was the only boy that went to UCLA, but several girls went. But most of the, my classmates, Niseis, went to L.A. City College. But I was not a scholar, by any means, only A I got was in golf. [Laughs]

MN: And you took boxing also at UCLA?

MS: What?

MN: You took at boxing at UCLA, right? Boxing?

MS: Yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

MN: Now, while you were at UCLA, Pearl Harbor got bombed.

MS: Yeah.

MN: What do you remember of that Sunday?

MS: I remember listening to the radio, and couldn't believe that a small country like Japan would attack United States, and I thought, "Well, there goes the whole future." But it wasn't long after my father got picked up, and the rumors of evacuation started out, so we didn't know what to expect.

MN: Where you home when your father got picked up?

MS: No, I don't think so.

MN: Did you know where they took your father?

MS: Not at the time, but we, later we found out he was taken to the county jail, then when he was put in Fort Missoula, Montana several weeks later.

MN: Was your father and Cedric's father picked up at the same time?

MS: I don't think so, but I think Cedric's father got picked up because of the kendo teaching, early. My father was just a businessman, but I guess they considered him one of the Issei leaders in Japanese town.

MN: Now, I know you talked about this a little earlier, but I'm gonna ask you again, after your father got picked up, what did your mother do with the store?

MS: The store, we couldn't, people couldn't, weren't buying sewing machines, and so they, they decided early to close it, so she decided to prepare to close it by return inventory that was, that could, was returnable. But fortunately, most of the things were sold before the evacuation came, so that way we lucked out, but they lost everything.

MN: Now, in February 1942, when the government kicked off the Terminal Islanders, did you see a lot of them come to Boyle Heights?

MS: Yeah, quite a few came.

MN: Did the Golden Bears have any interaction with them?

MS: Well, we had parties and socials and invited them, and so we tried to make them feel welcome. The first girlfriend I had was a Terminal Island girl. But anyways, she married Isao Kikuchi, Dr. Kikuchi's son.

MN: Where were a lot of the Terminal Islanders staying?

MS: I don't know, but they'd find friends, relatives, and so forth, and if they could find a home to rent, I guess they rented that. I don't know.

MN: Now, you were having, the Golden Bears were having dances for the Terminal Islanders?

MS: Yeah, well, we would invite them.

MN: Before the war, did you go to a lot of the dances?

MS: Yeah. I was going to UCLA, so...

MN: What kind, were you really good with the jitterbug?

MS: What?

MN: Were you good jitterbugging?

MS: [Laughs] I don't know whether I was good, but we were able to jitterbug in halftime, but we had a lot of fun. I don't, I don't know whether I would consider myself good at it.

MN: You're from Boyle Heights, where a lot of the zoot suits and the duck tail haircut was popular. Did you dress up in a zoot suit?

MS: No. No, we couldn't afford to have that.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

MN: Now, when did you have to quit UCLA?

MS: What'd I do?

MN: No, when did you have to quit UCLA?

MS: Well, war broke out and, as a joke, we said, well, to work in fruit stand you don't need a college education, so when my father lost his business, the accounting, I said, I didn't like school anyway, so it was a good excuse to quit. At that time I didn't like school. [Laughs]

MN: You were, what were you majoring in? Business admin?

MS: Business administration, accounting.

MN: And why did you have to quit?

MS: What?

MN: Why did you have to quit?

MS: I didn't have to quit; I wanted to quit. I was not a good student, anyway, so we just met, go to school and eat lunch, I guess.

MN: But wasn't there restriction on how far you can travel?

MS: Yeah, we gathered from Boyle Heights, had to drive to UCLA Westwood, so that was illegal after the evacuation orders came out, to travel that far. Anyway, whatever excuse we could find to quit, we...

MN: How did you feel when the U.S. government that you had to go into camp?

MS: Well, we had just finished a political science class, so it's unconstitutional, but there was nothing we could do. We weren't charged with any crime and we weren't, didn't have a trial, and yet we were, found ourselves in... but there was nothing we could do.

MN: Now, can you share with us who Francis Uematsu was and what he did for your family?

MS: Who?

MN: Francis Uyematsu.

MS: Oh, Francis Uyematsu, father had the Star Nursery, so he was the camellia king, so Francis was a Montebello High School graduate and he was, played tennis with Jack Raymer, was a national champ after school, but Francis was, was his playing partner at the high school level. So since he was working and he's oldest boy, he, one day, the day we were supposed to evacuate, he drives up, comes to the house and picks up all of our baggage and our neighbors, Japanese neighbors, and drove us into the Santa Anita racetrack where we were being incarcerated in, without, I couldn't even ask him to do it, but he was there that morning and took us in. I didn't think he should do that, but he nevertheless did it, and we were wondering how he was gonna get out, but he was a good talker, so he says, "Well, he says, I have to go get" -- Montebello was the next load, so next week -- "so I'll take you and then," he says, "I'll talk my way out." And I was surprised that even came, offered to take us into camp. I appreciated it. his daughter couldn't, wouldn't believe that her father was like that, but he was that kind of a person. And so in that one incident alone, I appreciate the friendship that we've had all these years. But he was a good sportsman, a good tennis player.

MN: So without you asking, he came and took all your baggage to Santa Anita.

MS: Yeah.

MN: And then Montebello did not have to go in for another week, is that --

MS: Yeah.

MN: So he was able to talk his way of Santa Anita?

MS: What?

MN: He was able to talk his way out of Santa Anita?

MS: Yeah, apparently so. So anyway, I didn't think he could do it, but he did. He did. But he 's that kind of person.

MN: Now, what happened to your family cars?

MS: We returned 'em to the, one was too old, but we had just bought one in 1938, which was still paid for, paying for, so we were able to return it to the dealer and they were happy to get it. But my sisters owned the car, not my father, so it was a big loss for her.

MN: What about your house? What did you do with the house?

MS: We rented it out. My sisters' high school teachers found tenants for the house, so they arranged to have the bank accept the payment, rent payments to pay for the mortgage, so we were able to salvage the house because before the war ended, Los Angeles was gonna build the Santa Ana Freeway and it happened to go right through our property, so we sold the property to, to the city, or state, I don't know.

MN: That was after the war?

MS: Huh?

MN: That was after the war, that you sold the --

MS: No, during the war.

MN: During the war you sold the house.

MS: December of 1944.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

MN: Now, when you got to Santa Anita, where did your family live, in the horse stalls or parking lot?

MS: Parking lot.

MN: What was your first impression of Santa Anita?

MS: Well, I didn't know. I didn't have any impressions, but when we got there, the bunk, I mean, the bunkhouses where we're gonna, were just being built, and looked at it and, oh. But it wasn't that bad on us in the parking lot.

MN: Who did you live with? Your father was not with you yet.

MS: No. Just my mother, my two sisters, and brother, five of us. Two sisters were already married, so they lived with their family.

MN: Santa Anita had a riot. What do you remember of the riot?

MS: I remember the riots, but I don't remember the details of why. Must've been about food or something, I don't know, but the younger kids would, used to taunt the guards. I never, I was there, but never did anything to taunt them, but the younger kids did it, yeah. But anyway, riots are, you can't, it's uncontrollable. I mean, later on when we're in Japan and so forth, there was, was the army, but you can't tell what they'll do, so in Japan, on May 1st was like a Communist, red flags flying all over and all these labor union guys putting on a demonstration to try to scare us guys that were... but riots are uncontrollable if they get out of hand. A lot of people can get hurt, so I'm leery about riot control.

MN: At Santa Anita, during the riots, were you afraid for your life?

MS: No, not myself. We weren't taunting, but we were curious to see what the guards would do when they're, but they were pretty well controlled. I mean, from what I understand how riot controls were there, so they just...

MN: Now, while you were at Santa Anita, what kind of job did you have?

MS: Working in a hobby shop, model building, teaching kids how to build model airplanes. It's, Henry Oiye was a pilot, so he started the hobby shop and got us interested. That's how Archie met me, Archie Miyatake. He used to chase the model airplanes that we flew.

MN: Before the war your family knew the Miyatakes. How close were they?

MS: I think, I'm not too sure, but I think my mother and father were their baishakunin.

MN: For Toyo Miyatake?

MS: Huh?

MN: For Toyo Miyatake?

MS: Yeah. They had that photo shop in Little Tokyo, so my father, mother knew them well.

MN: But Archie was a lot younger than you at the time.

MS: Yeah, must be ten, twenty, or ten years, at least ten years.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

MN: Now, other than this working at the hobby shop, what did you do in your free time at Santa Anita?

MS: What?

MN: What did you do on your free time at Santa Anita?

MS: We went to the dances, Saturday dances.

MN: Where were the dances held?

MS: In front of the grandstands, so a little slant.

MN: There's a slant on the floor?

MS: Yeah. But managed to enjoy ourselves. [Laughs]

MN: Did you ever get into a fight over a girl?

MS: Huh?

MN: Did you ever get into a fight over a girl?

MS: When I was in Rohwer?

MN: At Santa Anita.

MS: No. I don't remember. I remember a fight in terms of boxing, but not to fight with any of the other Japanese.

MN: What about the food at Santa Anita?

MS: Huh?

MN: The food.

MS: I don't remember the common food, but I remember one vegetable called rutabagas, and we had that. You know it is?

MN: That was at Rohwer, though, right?

MS: What?

MN: That was at Rohwer, not at Santa Anita.

MS: No, that was in Santa Anita.

MN: Santa Anita?

MS: Rutabagas, but I don't know, the food wasn't that good in Santa Anita.

MN: Did you ever eat a rutabaga before?

MS: I'd never heard of it. You know what it is? What is it?

MN: Is it, it's like a radish, huh?

MS: Huh?

MN: Like a radish. Like a radish.

MS: No, a turnip.

MN: Turnip. Did you have visitors at Santa Anita?

MS: Only one, my high school teacher, but I was already in college then. I was, it's the Japanese advisor, Japanese club advisor in high school.

MN: What did you two talk about?

MS: Huh?

MN: What did you two talk about?

MS: I don't remember what we talked about, but he was, encouraged us not to lose hope and to, he wanted us to continue our education. But I was, it was not a good decision anyway, but why he would remember what we were, there were not too many boys that were in the Japanese club, so I guess a couple of us, one friend of mine in college, well, were one of the few boys that were in the Japanese club.

MN: Now, before the war, the Japanese club at Roosevelt High created the Japanese garden.

MS: Yeah.

MN: Were you involved in that?

MS: No, my older sisters were involved. We used to go there as part of the project of the Japanese club, but we ourselves did, not involved in construction or raising the money.

MN: Now, why did you join the Japanese club in high school?

MS: Well, my sisters were helping and I just followed in my sisters' footsteps. Japanese club was not that popular among the boys, mostly women.

MN: But because your sister was involved, you became involved?

MS: Well, that what it amounts to now, 'cause I had no special reason to be.

MN: Did you hear that the Japanese garden was destroyed after Pearl Harbor?

MS: No. That was too big. They spent a lot of money bringing in a big, large stones. Have you visited it?

MN: No, but it was destroyed. Did you know that?

MS: No.

MN: Right after Pearl Harbor, some of the students destroyed the garden.

MS: They did?

MN: Yes.

MS: I didn't know that.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

MN: Now, from Santa Anita, how did you get to Rohwer?

MS: By railroad.

MN: What do you remember of the train ride?

MS: Dirty. [Laughs]

MN: Did people sleep on the floor?

MS: No, they slept on the chairs, seats.

MN: What about the soldiers on the train? How did they treat you?

MS: Indifferently. They were, I think they were just as mad as we were that we were treated so harshly. I mean, that's my imagination. I'm not too sure.

MN: Did you eat your meals in a separate car?

MS: What?

MN: Did you eat your meals in a separate car?

MS: I don't remember. I think so, yeah.

MN: Do you remember who served you?

MS: No, I don't. I don't, no, I don't remember.

MN: Do you remember how long it took to get to Rohwer?

MS: Yeah, about, about a week or so.

MN: How did your mother take the train ride?

MS: She was worried about the kids, I guess.

MN: When you got to Arkansas, did you get off the train and onto a bus?

MS: No, the train parked right side of the, right side of the camp.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

MN: What was your first impression of Rohwer?

MS: I don't know. I don't remember. It wasn't that bad. Rohwer wasn't that bad. Where our, our block was inside the woods, so it wasn't like the desert in other camps.

MN: What were some of the first things you did to settle down at Rohwer?

MS: What were the first what?

MN: First, first things that you did.

MS: Oh, we had to make our block livable, so I guess my mother, my mother had to work hard to clean up the mess. I don't think we were much help. Too young.

MN: What kind of job did you have at Rohwer?

MS: I worked in the, as an accountant in the engineering department.

MN: What were your responsibilities?

MS: Actually none, but the engineer department was supposed to build a gymnasium in the high school and the town hall and use the scrap lumber left over from building the camp to save the cost of building the gymnasium, so we became custodians of the inventory, the lumber. But they were encouraging the camp inmates to take the scrap lumber and make furniture for the, for the living quarters. But the architect, camp inmate, architects and engineers designed the gymnasium, and they built it. I never saw it finally built because I left camp shortly after that, but they were, apparently they did a good job.

MN: So you had to keep inventory of the scrap lumber.

MS: Yeah. Well, make sure that everything wasn't stolen.

MN: But they were being stolen, weren't they?

MS: Well, they were encouraged to be used, but we, it was our job to see that they didn't take the lumber that was, could be used for the gymnasium.

MN: When did your father return to camp, to the family?

MS: Shortly, several months after we got to Rohwer. Yeah. They released him from Fort Missoula and came back to Rohwer.

MN: What was the reunion like?

MS: Huh?

MN: What was the reunion like?

MS: The what?

MN: Reunion with your father.

MS: I don't know. We were surprised that he came back, but my father could read and write English, so we figured that, of all the Japanese, he was more Americanized than most of the Isseis were, so we didn't think he would be kept, but he managed to talk them out of releasing him.

MN: Now, when your father came to Rohwer, what did he do?

MS: Huh?

MN: What did he do at Rohwer?

MS: Well, the assistant commander, Dr. Hunter, and him became friends. Dr. Hunter subscribed to the Chicago Tribune and sponsored my father to read the paper and let the Isseis know what the progress, day to day happening of the war and so forth, so he was able to read the Chicago Tribune and let the, let the Japanese Isseis know the progress of the war. Because most of the Isseis didn't read English, so he translated and interpreted, with the, with the sanction of the authorities. So he got to be like [inaudible] of the camp. My father was pretty good English, but I think he knew more about the war than we did since he read the paper every day. We didn't even, wouldn't bother to read the paper, although he had, he had 'em.

MN: So he read the Chicago Tribune in English and translated it to the Issei?

MS: Yeah. Yeah, he was that good.

MN: Did he ever have any problems with the Issei, maybe accusing him of lying?

MS: No. They wouldn't know, anyway. But the Chicago Tribune was a more liberal paper anyway, not like the New York Times. [Laughs]

MN: Was the "loyalty questionnaire" an issue in your family?

MS: No.

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

MS: No.

MN: What did your mother do in camp?

MS: I don't know, took care of the family, but she must've helped in the kitchen whenever they needed it. But I'm not too sure.

MN: Were there dances at Rohwer?

MS: Yeah.

MN: Did you go to a lot of them?

MS: Yeah.

MN: What kind of memories do you have of the dances?

MS: What kind of what?

MN: Memories.

MS: Oh, something to do Saturday night, but anyway, learn, learned to jitterbug and half time and stuff like that. Didn't cost anything, cheap date. [Laughs] It was, we managed to have a good time.

MN: Were you able to go outside of camp?

MS: Yeah, we had picnics in, outside of the barbed wire fence. But one time we were walking and we saw a black sharecropper, I guess, complete with a... outside and so forth. We looked over and wondered what the, what they did to deserve that, but we never went to town or anything. I don't remember myself going, but my sisters could've gone shopping. We didn't have any money to shop with anyways. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 14>

MN: What year did you leave Rohwer?

MS: I stayed there about a year, I guess. Nineteen forty, we went in '42, right? I guess 1943.

MN: Where did you go after you left Rohwer?

MS: I went to Mount Clemens, Michigan, which is north of Detroit, and I worked in a rose garden, rose nursery.

MN: What did you do at the rose nursery?

MS: We were learning to grow roses, but then later they transferred me into the greening room where we were preparing the roses that were cut to be sold in the Detroit flower market.

MN: Now why did you have to leave this Michigan rose growing business?

MS: Why did I have to? Well, the bosses were worried that the, they're getting too friendly with the girls that were working, and they're afraid that some of us would get married to them, but I don't know why me, but I had no intentions of getting married. I had to graduate college then still serve in the army, so, but they invited me to leave. [Laughs]

MN: Now, when you say local girls, these are hakujin girls, right?

MS: Yeah.

MN: And, and one girl in particular took a --

MS: What?

MN: One girl took an interest in you, didn't she?

MS: I don't know whether she got, but she got, she's the sister-in-law of the foreman of the greening room, so the foreman would invite me to his home and the sister-in-law would be there. So she was getting friendly, so I don't know why I got involved in those things, but this foreman of mine encouraged it. Anyway, the bosses, his boss was getting concerned that they, he didn't want to have the nursery be, get involved with the local girls. But anyway, some of the girls were getting awful friendly with the fellows, so I guess they had something to be concerned about, but to me, it wasn't apparent to me at that time.

MN: How long were you working at Michigan?

MS: Little over a year I think.

MN: And then where did you go?

MS: Chicago.

MN: What did you do in Chicago?

MS: Worked in a printing company, Reuben H. Donnelly.

MN: Now, you met your future wife in Chicago. Share with us this story.

MS: [Laughs] Well, she's from Gila and was working in a home north of Chicago, called Golf, Illinois, and she had a girlfriend from Rohwer that I knew in Rohwer and was working at the YMCA, Wabash YMCA, as a hairdresser, so one day when I was, went to Chicago, this Ruby, girl, the hairdresser, I told her I was looking for a place to stay, so we were staying at various YMCAs in Chicago. She says, well, there was a one bedroom apartment in the building that she was living in, so she found a place for me to live in. Then my wife was going to the Bukkyokai in Chicago, so she used to visit, so one day I met her and I found out she used to visit Chicago, so I said, "Well, next time you have a day, off let me know. I'll take you out to dinner." So from there, I guess she was lonely and I was lonely, so, but...

MN: But before you go on with that story, though, how long were you in Chicago before you got drafted?

MS: I forgot. I would guess I worked about a year, I guess. I don't remember.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

MN: But you got drafted December 1944, is that correct?

MS: Yes.

MN: But you were drafted in December 1944, but you didn't go into the army until '43. Why did you have this extension?

MS: I was drafted in '44, yeah. What, '45?

MN: You didn't go into the army until '43 because you had an extension.

MS: No, that's not right. I was, I got an extension in '44.

MN: Yes.

MS: A one-month extension to come back to California to, because we had sold the house and my sister was able to get me an extension so I could help pack up the, send the furniture to the, the Washington D.C. where my father bought another house.

MN: Now, why did you have to sell your Los Angeles house?

MS: Huh?

MN: Why did you have to sell your Los Angeles house?

MS: They were gonna build the Santa Ana Freeway right through the property, the state was. So that's how she, I got the extension, thirty days, from the draft.

MN: And then, from the money that you got from selling your Boyle Heights home, what did you do with that money?

MS: My father looked around the different things and decided to move to Washington, D.C. because he met a Hawaiian Nisei who was, had permanent residence of Washington, D.C., and he was encouraged by the Nisei that, that Washington, D.C. was a good place to live because he could buy this grocery store that -- they didn't have supermarkets and stuff like that in those days. My father divided the money into buying a house plus buying three grocery stores to get my three older sisters' family business running. My father, my sisters that worked for the Japanese consul were told they weren't eligible to get a civil service job, so my father bought these grocery stores that the family could run.

MN: So your father did not, did not want to return to California?

MS: It wasn't a question not wanting to. Had nothing to go back to California for since the house was sold, business was gone, so all he did was play golf in Washington, D.C. And later on he started to study democracy at the Library of Congress, so I guess at that idea, the idea of going into Japanese politics started to intrigue him. Anyway, but I was surprised when he said he wanted to go to Japan. He said, "I can't afford to take you," but he said, well, go as a dependent. I was staff sergeant at that time.

MN: Okay, before we go there I'm gonna, let's go back to your, your, you just got your draft notice, and you're in Los Angeles. After you finish helping your sister get rid of all the furniture in the home, where were you inducted?

MS: Camp Croft, South Carolina. Spartanburg in South Carolina, but the induction center was Fort Douglas, Utah, and I went there by myself and got assigned to this Camp Croft in South Carolina, and I was traveling by myself.

MN: Now, when you were going from Utah, Fort Douglas, to South Carolina, you had a one-day delay because the train went through Chicago.

MS: Yeah.

MN: What did you do in Chicago?

MS: Well, since I was going to Chicago I called my future wife then, so I took the day off and visited her. I got late by a day, into Camp Croft, but the, because of the, so many train stations in Chicago that I usually got lost. But anyway, but I was able to meet my wife.

MN: So that's the excuse you told at South Carolina, that you got lost and that's why you were late?

MS: I didn't use it as an excuse. It was a fact. There are, do you know Chicago?

MN: Only the airport.

MS: Huh?

MN: Only the airport.

MS: Well, there must've been about four or five different railroad stations, so for me to get confused, not an excuse, it's a normal... [laughs]

MN: Were you the only Japanese American in your unit when you were training at South Carolina?

MS: Yeah. Well, one of the funny thing is the, the commanding officer was a Southern officer, and he says, one day he says, "I wanted to see you." And I said, "Why?" He says, "Of all the men I have you're the only one qualified to go to OCS."

MN: Officer training.

MS: Two and a half years of college. He says, "We want you to apply for OCS." I said I didn't want to. I said -- some of the guys in the unit I was training with couldn't even read and write, so the, I told him I appreciated the opportunity, but I was -- at UCLA I had taken two years of ROTC and so forth, but they wouldn't, not very many Nisei were offered a chance to go to... so as a compliment that you would wish to send me, but I couldn't accept. But he submitted my name anyway, and I told the board that I really didn't want to become an officer, that was not militarily, to make military a career. But anyway, so they didn't pass me, which I was glad, because I didn't want some stupid guy say, "I don't want a Jap officer," and shoot, get shot. Anyway, but at the time, taking basic training, they're also recruiting the Niseis to go to the language, Military Language School, so I applied to go to the Military Language School and they took me that time. So again, I traveled by myself from Spartanburg to Minneapolis, Minnesota, went through Chicago and, and called my wife, future wife. But when I got there the classes weren't gonna start for three days, so I asked for a three day pass and went into Chicago, and then without getting permission from our family, I said, well, we might as well get married. [Laughs] She was all for getting married. She was only nineteen or, I was only twenty-three. We had no business getting married on our own, but we did, but so been married sixty-five years, so it wasn't a bad choice.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

MN: Where did you go to get married?

MS: We got married by the court judge in Chicago. So anyway, the joke is she says I still owe her three dollars for the marriage license. But anyway, my wife has a good sense of humor anyway.

MN: When did you tell your parents you got married?

MS: Huh?

MN: When did you tell your parents you got married?

MS: They knew I was... but after we got married we told 'em. [Laughs]

MN: What year did you get married?

MS: Nineteen forty, '45, yeah, January.

MN: Once you got married, did your wife move to Minnesota with you?

MS: What?

MN: Once you got married, did your wife move to Minnesota with you?

MS: Yeah. Yeah. It so happened that the Nisei graduating class, we knew a couple that were moving out, and we moved into their apartment. Then my wife started to work in St. Paul Hospital, so we were able to pay the rent and things like that by her working, 'cause my family was getting the fifty dollar allowance for, so that's the only income they had.

MN: You were sending your army money to your family?

MS: Yeah, so my wife didn't get, she had to pay her own way. [Laughs]

MN: Now you were at Fort Snelling when the war ended in August '45. How did you hear the news and how did you feel?

MS: Well, I was glad the war ended because I, getting, Japanese was getting very difficult, but at the same time they closed the language school down, they opened up the, in Baltimore area, Baltimore, Oregon, I mean Baltimore, Maryland, the Counterintelligence school for occupation duty. So since Baltimore was only an hour from Washington, D.C., where my father bought a house, that, I volunteered to go to Baltimore and asked my wife to join, live with my family in Washington, D.C. That worked out pretty good.

MN: Now, how long were you in the Counterintelligence Corps school?

MS: Little over a year. Then we were ready to get out of the army, but my father wanted me to volunteer to go to Japan because he wanted to go to Japan, so I did. But my father, I never got to know my father because three months after I volunteered he died. But he never did get to go to Japan. So the rest of the story about my father I had to learn from my cousin and so forth in Japan.

MN: How did your father die?

MS: Cerebral hemorrhage.

MN: How old was he?

MS: Fifty-nine. He died young.

MN: So you had volunteered to go to Japan in the military because your father wanted to go to Japan, but he died. So did you still end up going to Japan?

MS: After I went to Japan, three months later he died. So I thought at the time I would get to know my father, but unfortunately it never happened, so the rest of the, what I learned about him, I learned in Japan from my cousins.

MN: Now, when you were in Japan, you also met up with Cedric Shimo's parents, who had returned to Japan after the war.

MS: Cedric Shimo? Yeah. His mother and father got repatriated to Japan, and Cedric wanted to join them, but he was put into this 1800 Battalion and as a result, when Cedric's mother and father got to Japan, I got there and whatever I could do to get them, help them or they helped me. In fact, when my wife came to Japan Cedric's mother had cleaned up the apartment, our apartment. So things that happened, you couldn't, you couldn't even ask them to do and they did, so I guess we were fortunate that we had family friends like that.

MN: How long were you in Japan?

MS: Seven years. My wife was there six years.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

MN: Now how did you end up in San Francisco?

MS: Well, I wanted to finish, go to law school, so I had applied to Georgetown in Washington, D.C. and Hastings here, so I told my wife, "Where would you want to live?" And without asking it twice, says back here, so we moved to San Francisco, where I attended Hastings. But I didn't finish. I got sick and I couldn't.

MN: You had some interesting discussions with your constitutional law professor.

MS: Yeah.

MN: What did you talk about?

MS: Well, the writing examination paper, you had to write like you were trying the case before a court, and every time they talked about the evacuation case I acted like, as a Japanese individual rather than a potential lawyer, so they didn't think I was following the decorum of writing. So I didn't realize that I had harbored such feelings, but one day when I failed the constitutional law I was really disgusted with myself, but too late. Anyway, we didn't have proper counseling of how to... but that's too late. But anyway, nevertheless, we got to be very knowledgeable in the, what happened to Japanese.

MN: Did you argue that detention was illegal?

MS: What?

MN: Did you argue in your paper that the detention was illegal?

MS: Oh yeah. Well, to me, it's still illegal. We were never charged, never had a trial, yet we found ourselves interned without charges, without a trial. But I can see why they would flunk me out of the class 'cause I never argued the, writing like we were arguing before a court, but that's hindsight. I don't think I'm that dumb, but you get emotionally involved and you don't know what you, you forget your role. Yeah.

MN: So your constitutional law professor, did they feel that it was legal to detain Japanese Americans?

MS: No. They knew it was illegal. I mean, they're not stupid, but the way I argued the case was stupid, I think. But, now, but at the time, I was so incensed with the stupidity of the whole thing that, so even today I don't... how could they make a mistake where you're not charged, where you don't have a trial, no convictions, and yet imprisoned. Illegal. I still get mad. But anyway, but that's not arguing it like you would in a courthouse. You can't help it if you feel personally that strongly about the situation, but I still don't want to do a project, you've got the, only half of the billion, two hundred million, about half of the people that never got paid for the... like for example, the boys that were killed in action with the 442nd, that kind of, the Isseis that died before that. If we're, if by law training at that time -- I was in the middle of law school -- included legislative changes, my attitude probably would be a lot different today. But I'd like to see the law passed where all the guys that, 442nd at least, that spent time in the camp be paid, but then the parents and these brothers that died before, I think are entitled to be compensated. But I'm ninety years old. What are you gonna do? [Laughs] So I don't like to see something started that I can't finish, but at first, if young people are interested, I have a lot of research papers on that, of people that can help 'em. But it's, what's done is done.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

MN: Is there anything else you want to add? You've answered all my questions. Is there anything else you want to add?

MS: About the school?

MN: About your life, your experience?

MS: Well, this Peter Irons that got the twenty thousand dollars for us, wrote in this story that I have that he went to this Antioch College and went into... says, he went in the, by Horace Mann, he says, how can anybody think about dying without doing something major? That's why I'd like to see that law passed, but I don't know who will finish the job, but I think it's a possibility of getting another billion dollars for sixty thousand people that never got paid. You have a law passed saying they, the 442nd vets that deserve the money and vets like me never got paid. They should get paid. They were in camp and also were willing to fight for them, but they never were repaid, nor the parents that were, gave birth to these boys that were willing to do it.

MN: So you're talking about the ancestors, the people, because these vets who died or the Isseis who die, you're talking about, if they're already dead, you're talking about their, people who came after them, paying those people, their children? That's what you were talking about?

MS: The children, yeah, talking about should be able to recover the, when they lost their money the family certainly never used it to rehabilitate their life. So I think it's possible to pass those laws, but even if they don't get the money, at least we felt that we did what, tried to finish the job that we started. But this way, not even trying, you can't, didn't finish the job, whether we get the money or not, but the fact that we felt the loss deep enough to do something about it. That's a legacy our parents taught us. The fact that the 442nd boys did what they did do to, I don't know if Niseis think the way I do, but if they thought that way, I think they'd really accomplish something.

MN: What do you think about the --

MS: What?

MN: What do you think about the guys who protested in camp?

MS: What?

MN: What do you think about the guys who protested in camp?

MS: Well, just like me, arguing a law case like it was an emotional experience, that how could they be that stupid, like I was. There are certain procedures you have to follow, to do, to get a reasonable chance of success. You should follow the basic, well, even if they told us the basic, we're so emotionally involved that we couldn't see it. That's not, so to me, that's not education, so I said, well, how can you be so dumb? That you didn't know why you were failing, but that's part of the things you learn from life. Well, you don't even remember evacuation because you weren't even born at that, but that's, but what about guys like us? We were born and went through the experience and we're still dumb, and we don't know what the value of education is. But to have that law passed, it's easier than going through the courts to get the injustice corrected. I can look at myself and say, well, if I were to do it over again, I would change my whole attitude. Instead of being a belligerent, how can you be a wise man to get things done that you want to get done? That's all, what an education is for, not how smart you are. I don't think I'm a dummy, but I'm not very wise. But anyway, that's the way I look at myself, is that if you were to do it all over again, what would you do and change? And I come to some conclusions that my wife is not happy with what I'm doing. She says wasted a lot of time, but, but I'm happy that what we did do in Japan and the army and so forth, that I wasn't a coward. [Laughs] When we think about the fights, that silly fights that we were in, I said, so it's alright for high school, but nobody really got hurt. But when you realize that, what kind of mistake you made and your actual performing, I can't help but be disappointed with it.

But that's why the 442nd boys and what, the one story with, when I was in combat with Hitoshi Yonemura's younger brother, was in the 24th Division, in the 8th Army, but he was telling me that because of his brother, Hitoshi -- you know Hitoshi? He was the Japanese yell leader at the time of camp, World War II at UCLA, and the rumor was that some of the pilots of the Japanese airplanes were wearing high school rings of American high schools, so his mother used to be accused, because of guys of like Hitoshi, he became a, had the yell leader at UCLA and so forth, because of people like him the Nisei boys got a bad name, but they were pro-American, and gave his mother a bad time. Then when I got back in the States I heard about him and I wanted to find out, two guys, actually three, that were at UCLA when, became officers out of the ROTC, and they're, two of 'em were killed in action, Hit Yonemura and Kei Takahashi. He's 379 boy. And when I came out and found out he was buried up here, Hitoshi Yonemura, I was, and he's L.A. boy, I was wondering why they buried him up here, 'cause I remember a story, his younger brother telling me about how his mother was blamed for having a pro-American... well, that's fair, but the brother asked me, he says, isn't there anything we can do? Well no. I didn't know why they were buried, but that's always been a question mark in my mind, that here's a guy was pro-American, did everything he could to advance the Nisei, that we have the Japanese inmates blame his mother for raising a boy like that. Couldn't understand.

But anyway, that's how narrow some Japanese thinking was at that particular time, but to me there's no excuse for that, but how deep feeling, human feelings are is hard to determine. But I think that's one of the sad stories, that to me, he's a hero, but for him to be blamed, mother to be blamed, and for me to tell his brother that there's nothing we can do. I think there is certain thing we can do, telling the story. Whether it does any good or not, I don't know, but I think it's a good story. Kei Takahashi is another ROTC, but he was the scoutmaster of Troop 379, so he was another one that contributed to the Nisei future. You ever hear of him? No. When you go back to L.A., if you ask the Troop 379 about Kei Takahashi, to me, those guys are heroes many times over than guys like me. I was decorated, but I don't know the reason why. Just being a good boy, I guess. But anyway, it's, some of the stories that I would like to recall about these guys I knew are good stories, but nobody to really tell 'em to, or to know. But to think of them, that, in 1910, to have Japanese immigrants denied American citizenship and forty years later have the law changed, it's easier to do that than to go through the court cases, but why we didn't do that, or we don't do that, is one of the question marks, but, well, you're over, you were born after the war, but one of these days you'll understand what, what... but the record is good, but why we don't do anything about is... like Cedric Shimo's story is, is so good that, I have all of his papers, but what his parents, what he went through and what his parents through really... you know his story, yeah? It's unbelievable what, how inhuman, inhumane we, man can be. But there's the stories like Francis Uyematsu coming after that you couldn't even ask that they would go out of their way to do, so how do you balance these stories out? Your interview, I will say, is telling these stories, but I hope you think, learn something that, that man's inhumanity to man is unbelievable, but man's humanity to man is believable. But spoiled brats like myself can even think that way, I wonder what the hell is wrong with all of us. Well, even doing, you're doing what you're doing, I don't know the reasons why you're doing it, but if I interviewed you, that's why I would... what, what motivates you to continue this thing?

MN: Well, we'll talk about that later, Marshall.

MS: Huh?

MN: We'll talk about that later. Let me thank you, and we'll talk some more.

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