Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Richard E. Yamashiro Interview
Narrator: Richard E. Yamashiro
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: San Jose, California
Date: May 24, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-yrichard_2-01-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: And how about for you, making friends, was it easy for you to find like boys your age starting to make friends?

RY: Oh, yeah, I had a lot of friends over there, especially you go to school and you meet all these guys at school and some of 'em were okay, some of 'em were kind of different from us, you know. Like I remember the people from Terminal Island, they were hard to get to know because they're more like Japanese-y. I don't know if that's the word to use but they spoke more Japanese, I guess that's what they did in San Pedro, the fishermen were a hard crowd but I got to meet a lot of them people, too. And then the block I lived in, most of the people were from San Fernando Valley and they were the farmers. And then we had a few people from downtown, Little Tokyo area, and they were the city guys, you know.

TI: So it's like three distinct cultures almost. So you had --

RY: Oh, there was more than that. We had people from other parts of California that were there.

TI: And every time where they're from a different part they were kind of like a little different in terms of --

RY: Yeah, because they were in different blocks, you know. So it was like I told Mac when I talked to him I said they all had their own gangs. Like it wasn't really a gang but it was like the group they stayed with and it's different for me.

TI: Well, because it's kind of interesting when you mentioned first kind of the Terminal Islanders or San Pedro, I mean, they were more like a more Japanese culture.

RY: Yeah.

TI: And then the downtown L.A. kind of Little Tokyo more city kids.

RY: Oh, yeah as a matter of fact one of my friends he's the first guy I ever saw wearing a zoot suit. [Laughs]

TI: Although you were probably kind of a mixture because Hollywood is not really the country and not really farming 'cause you're in the city.

RY: But see, I had a... I guess I had a knack of meeting people and associating with all of them.

TI: So you were able to kind of like be with Terminal Islanders and the San Fernando Valley guys, the downtown guys.

RY: Yeah.

TI: But was there a group that you felt most comfortable with?

RY: Well, mostly the people that were in our block and they were from San Fernando. But I got along with the people from Terminal Island too.

TI: Now you mentioned different communities in other parts of the state, I'm from Seattle and there's a community that went to Manzanar, Bainbridge Island?

RY: Yeah.

TI: Did you --

RY: We had Bainbridge people there.

TI: And how would you characterize the Bainbridge Island people?

RY: Well, they were the quiet ones. [Laughs] Subdued, you know.

TI: Okay. And so you mentioned so you kind of knew boys from all around then, from different parts.

RY: Yeah.

TI: Now, did the boys like from different parts form their own kind of groups or gangs? I would say gangs.

RY: Well, I wouldn't say gangs but they all... all the Bainbridge people usually stick around the Bainbridge people and of course San Pedro kids, they stuck around together. The farmers, farmers are pretty kick-back, too.

TI: Now when they formed their kind of groups, was it oftentimes sports related?

RY: Yeah, mostly sports related. sports was something else in camp. Sometimes they got to be pretty hectic, you know, seen a lot of fights. If somebody didn't like the way the call went, they'd get out there and they'd fight. I remember basketball too, I wasn't very athletic so I never got into any of those things but I remember, I think it was Terminal Island was playing some of the people from San Fernando, I think. And they were like doing judo, like somebody over guarded, they toss them down.

TI: This is playing basketball?

RY: Playing basketball, and I'd go oh, my gosh you know.

TI: And so what did that make you think? I mean, what'd you think when you saw that? Because you I mean you knew enough about sports that you weren't supposed to do those things.

RY: I thought good thing I'm not playing sports because I don't want to be fighting those guys, you know.

TI; And did that translate into other activities, too? I mean, I think of sort of gang violence today, it's pretty fierce with knives and things. Did that ever happen in Manzanar?

RY: Yeah, some of 'em, I don't know if the people I knew had it but lot of the older people had knives made out of files. I used to watch them making the knives in the boiler room, they'd use the boiler room to heat up the thing and they'd pound it and they had some pretty well made knives there. But when they're playing sports and stuff you have a baseball bat and all that other stuff too, but it was interesting for me 'cause I'm sort of a peace-loving guy and to see all this stuff going on, you know.

TI: And how did the adults deal with that? Because I'm guessing some of the Isseis were maybe concerned about that and maybe like for instance your parents, fearing maybe the negative bad influence of the, some of these others?

RY: My parents never said anything.

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