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_2-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Okay, so the weeks pass after December 7th and pretty soon families are starting to... well before we go there a couple weeks later they... what's the right word, they removed everyone or told everyone at Terminal Island they had to leave. And I know a lot of the Terminal Islanders had to find housing throughout Los Angeles. Did you know about the Terminal Islanders and did any of them come up into your area?

RY: No, I didn't find out about Terminal Island until we went to Manzanar and then when I met these people from Terminal Island so and they were telling me seventy-two hours to leave Terminal Island and they had to get rid of their purse seiners and they had a hard time. It's really difficult for them because they scavengers would come in there and they'd offer 'em peanuts for their boats and the people said, "I didn't have a choice." It's either that, give it to them or leave it. So it was just hard on them I'm sure.

TI: Well, how about now your parents when they had to leave? Did they have difficulties with the business or anything?

RY: No, because my dad was leasing this in a store and so it wasn't too bad for him but he had set up the business and everything, I think he got disillusioned.

TI: Now when he had to pack things up, did he bring his violin?

RY: Oh, yeah of course.

TI: Oh, you say of course, I was wondered if he had stored it someplace.

RY: Oh, no.

TI: But he brought that.

RY: Yeah, he brought his violin, yeah, for sure.

TI: Did you ever hear him play in camp, the violin?

RY: Oh, yeah, he would play in camp. Like I said, he was pretty good.

TI: And would he just play in the barracks?

RY: Yeah, in the barracks, 'cause he memorized all his songs and all that so he could play out of memory you know.

TI: Oh, what an interesting, it's almost like a movie. I could have this background music of someone playing a violin in a barrack. Because I'm sure people, other people could hear him play.

RY: Yeah.

TI: And did people say anything when your dad played?

RY: No.

TI: Just that was your dad playing the violin.

RY: Yeah, my dad just played for his own recreation purposes, I think.

TI: Interesting.

RY: 'Cause he never... they used to have stage plays and stuff, he never performed on the stage or anything for anybody so he just did it at home.

TI: How interesting. So for you, from Hollywood, tell me about the day that you had to leave Hollywood and go I think you guys went to Manzanar first?

RY: Yeah.

TI: So tell me how that went for you.

RY: Well, to me it was kind of sad because I had to leave all my friends and I remember when I was in school I had this Italian friend we used to always talk as kids would talk and he said, "I guess we're next." I said, "Well I don't know," 'cause he thought he was going to get evacuated too. I had to say all the goodbye to my friends and then we had to go the assembly point and get on these Greyhound buses. And the hardest thing was trying to carry whatever you could carry, you know. And I had... I know my mom must have got rid a lot of my stuff, like my baseball glove and stuff, you know. Not necessary stuff. And just had to leave it or throw it away. And we got on the buses and they made us pull all the curtains, so I don't know if they didn't want us to see out or they didn't want the people to see in, I'm not sure which one. But that's how it went.

TI: And going back, you mentioned saying goodbye to your friends.

RY: Yeah.

TI: Was there any conversation in particular that you remember that was... you mentioned you're Italian friend and saying he's next but anything else?

RY: Other than my Italian friends, no. My mom had a lot of friends and they were sad and she had a lot of good friends. As a matter of fact, one of her friends came up to Manzanar to visit us even. So I think she had a hard time.

TI: When you made... when your Italian friend made the comment that, "We'll be next," what did you think? Did you think that that was a possibility that they would do Italians?

RY: Yeah, I thought that was a possibility because Italy was in the war, too.

TI: Right.

RY: I didn't have any German friends so I couldn't talk to them.

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