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

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay so Richard, the way I start this is just the date and where we are. So today's Tuesday, May 24, 2011, and we're at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose. On camera is Dana Hoshide, I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda, and we're here with Richard Yamashiro. So, Richard, I'm going to just start at the beginning. Can you just tell me where and when you were born?

RY: I was born in Seattle, Washington, February 13, 1929.

TI: And do you know where in Seattle you were born?

RY: I was born at Swedish Hospital is what my birth certificate says.

TI: Yeah, well, it's still there, it's just literally just maybe less than a mile from our offices in Seattle, the Densho office. So it's well-known, in fact, my parents still go to Swedish Hospital. Yeah, I kind of want to find out how you were born in Seattle and then maybe a good way to start is with your father. So can you first tell me your father's name and where he's from?

RY: My father's first name is Eiro, E-I-R-O, and he's born in Okinawa.

TI: And what kind of work did his family do in Okinawa?

RY: I'm not sure what my grandparents did in Okinawa but my father was like in the merchant marines. And he migrated to the United States so I don't know what... I have no idea what my grandparents did.

TI: So your father, so he was kind of like a sailor or merchant marine and so how did that work? I mean, one day he was just was on a ship and decided to stay in the United States or do you know how?

RY: I think that's how it went but he never talked to me about it.

TI: And so where did he get off the ship?

RY: Seattle, I think Seattle.

TI: Okay, so Seattle. And then what did he do when he got to Seattle?

RY: Well, my father was an accomplished violinist and he was teaching violin, he was a concert violinist.

TI: Wow, that's unusual.

RY: Yeah, so... and my mother was the accompanist on the piano.

TI: And so where did he learn how to play the violin?

RY: I have no idea.

TI: But concert, I mean, so this is like western kind of classical music?

RY: Yeah, he was pretty good from what I could remember.

TI: How interesting. And your mother accompanied him on the piano?

RY: On the piano.

TI: So tell me, what was your mother's name?

RY: My mother's name was Tomiko, maiden name Horita.

TI: Okay, and where was she from?

RY: She was from Yano in Hiroshima.

TI: So how did the two of them meet?

RY: That I don't know either but I assume it was a arranged marriage, but I never got the details.

TI: And yet she was a musician so she could play with your father.

RY: Yeah.

TI: Do you know if that came into play that they knew each other through music or anything like that?

RY: I'm not sure about that either.

TI: Were they married in Japan?

RY: No, they were married here in Seattle.

TI: And did she come from Japan to Seattle knowing that she was going to get married to your father?

RY: That I'm not sure either but she was there with my grandfather who was from Hiroshima too.

TI: Okay, so she was here already.

RY: Yeah, my grandfather was, he was growing hops in Washington.

TI: Wow, that's another interesting story.

RY: Yeah, he's an interesting man, my grandpa.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: So tell me a little bit about him. So this is the grandfather on your mother's side.

RY: Well, he was a restless soul because he came to Seattle and he was growing hops and he did that for a few years. And after I was born, I think a few years after I was born he got restless again so he picked up the family and they all moved down to Los Angeles and he grew strawberries. And then a few years after that he got restless again and he picked up the family and went back to Japan. And then while he was in Japan, Japan was fighting China, they took over Manchuria and they were looking for settlers to go to Manchuria because they didn't have enough military people. So they were looking for civilians to go and farm over in Manchuria, sort of kind of occupy Manchuria so he took his family over there to Manchuria.

TI: So is your mother going along with him?

RY: No, my mother stayed in the United States.

TI: Stayed in the United States, okay. So when you say the family --

RY: Well, I had three uncles and one aunt, and my aunt stayed here and one of my uncles stayed and two went back to Japan with him, but one got off at Hawaii.

TI: Oh, I see okay. So he was just traveling and leaving children in all these different places.

RY: Well, he took whoever wanted to go with him but my one uncle on the ship to Japan, he met this girl from Hawaii and he fell in love with her and he told my grandfather that he was going to get off and go stay in Hawaii which was a smart move for him.

TI: Oh, that's a good story.

RY: Yeah, so he stayed there for a long time until he passed away.

TI: Okay, that's interesting. And so your mother stayed in the United States and she married your father.

RY: Yeah, and then we moved to Los Angeles.

TI: And so did you move with your grandfather?

RY: Yeah.

TI: Okay, so your grandfather started a business down there and that's where you --

RY: Yeah, growing strawberries.

TI: Okay, what was your grandfather's name?

RY: Seiichiro.

TI: And again Horita?

RY: Yeah.

TI: Interesting story.

RY: He's definitely interesting character.

TI: And so you can barely probably remember him because you were --

RY: Well, I saw him when I went back to Japan.

TI: Oh, okay, so we'll get to that later.

RY: But I saw him again over there.

TI: But do you have any childhood memories when you're a kid, really young, of him?

RY: Not really 'cause we didn't go where he went 'cause he was growing berries and we lived in the city.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: Okay, so let's talk about I guess California, 'cause that would be kind of your earliest childhood memories.

RY: That's my earliest memories, yeah.

TI: So tell me, this is the Hollywood area?

RY: Yeah.

TI: And you're strawberry farmers kind of.

RY: No, my dad, there wasn't any job for a concert violinist so he had a fruit and vegetable stand that he had. And my mother was just helping him, she was a housewife naturally. But my mother was a different kind of an Issei, that's another story. She was a little ahead of her time because I remember the Virginia Slim advertisement, she used to, I remember her smoking cigarettes and having a shot of wine every now and then. And she went to night school at Hollywood High and she became pretty fluent in English, she took different classes there. She's the one that drove the car, usually it's the other way around for the Issei family. So I say my mom was way ahead of her time.

TI: Wow that really is I mean to hear some driving, smoking.

RY: Yeah.

TI: How about the way she dressed? Was it different also?

RY: It's just the way all the Issei women dressed and it wasn't anything fancy or anything.

TI: And because your mom was so ahead of her time, how did the other Isseis get along with her?

RY: They got along good. she did her own thing like she went to school by herself at night and as a matter of fact she took a few classes like tailoring, she became pretty proficient in making different clothing. And ceramic painting, what do you call that, designing dresses, I don't know what you call that, she used to draw dresses and stuff so she was pretty artistic too.

TI: And how did your father deal with that? Here his wife is being so ahead of her time, was that okay with your father?

RY: All I know is that he goes to work and he comes back, and that was his routine.

TI: So it seemed like it was okay with him. So you have this sort of fruit and vegetable stand and then for a while your grandfather was out someplace else doing strawberries. Going back to your father and the violin and your mother the piano, did they ever perform in California, do you remember?

RY: I don't think so. They might have performed in Washington but I never, I never asked my dad these things and so I just saw the pictures and I know he was teaching violin when we were in Hollywood. He had some students come over to the house and he was teaching them violin.

TI: And the students, were they Japanese?

RY: Japanese.

TI: And when said you saw pictures, was it pictures of the performing? Were they like on a stage?

RY: Well, it's just a picture of them posing, him with the violin and my mom at the piano. I think I was his worst violin student.

TI: Oh, so you got a free lesson.

RY: Oh, you're never supposed to teach your kids anything, I don't think, but I didn't want to learn violin in the first place but he tried to teach me violin and it never did work out. [Laughs]

TI: That's interesting. You were born in 1929, did you have any siblings, brothers or sisters?

RY: I had one sister.

TI: And older or younger?

RY: Older, she was born in 1927.

TI: Okay. And what was her name?

RY: Lilian.

TI: Is she still alive?

RY: No, she passed away.

TI: Okay. And going back to you I forgot to ask what was your given name when you were born what was the name given to you?

RY: It was, I think the birth certificate said Richard Eiichi Yamashiro.

TI: And you I think said earlier before we started that you actually went by your Japanese name.

RY: My mother used my Japanese name so... until I knew better.

TI: And so your friends all call you Eiichi when you're growing up?

RY: Yeah, well, they used to massacre it, Ichi or you know.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: So let's go back to now California and what are some just... so describe the house you grew up in.

RY: Well, we lived in a couple of houses, rental houses. And what I can think of, they were pretty old homes like one house was in the back by the garage from what I can remember. But we did have a regular Japanese furo and that's about all I can say for the houses there.

TI: But then like generally did you have your own room? Did you sleep with anyone else? How did that work?

RY: I don't really remember whether I shared it with my sister. I had my own room, I think I had my own room but I'm not sure.

TI: And you mentioned the bath, the furo, so do you remember is that kind of a nightly ritual?

RY: Oh, yeah.

TI: Every night you would do that. And how would the family do that was there a certain order in terms of who took the bath?

RY: Yeah, my father first, and then we'd go in and then my mom would always be the last. I think that's typical for the Japanese.

TI: And to heat up the bath was it... how did that... was it wood or was it oil?

RY: I think it was wood.

TI: And so who had to start the fire? Was it your father or did you do it?

RY: I think my mom did.

TI: Oh, your mom did.

RY: Yeah.

TI: So how about things like Japanese school? Did you have to go to Japanese school?

RY: Oh, yes that was one of my pet peeves.

TI: That and violin lessons. [Laughs]

RY: Yeah, well going to school all week and then going on a bus early in the morning and going to Japanese school all day Saturday, it got to be pretty much of a... I wouldn't say hassle but all my friends are all out there playing on Saturday, right, the weekends, I'm going to school on Saturday. And it was something that my parents insisted I do so I had to do it. Get a touch of the Japanese teaching methods, the ruler. [Laughs]

TI: Now when you said you had to take a bus so where did you bus to?

RY: It must have been about, well, probably about ten miles down.

TI: So where, was that like in little Tokyo?

RY: No, it was off of... if I remember right it was off of Vermont.

TI: Okay, Vermont and I'm trying to think, Vermont goes so long.

RY: Yeah, Vermont goes from the hills down to the beach just like Western Avenue.

TI: Okay, you mentioned your other friends in Hollywood didn't have to go to Japanese school.

RY: Oh, no they were Caucasians.

TI: Oh, okay. So that's why I was going to ask when you go to school how many other Japanese were there?

RY: Oh, there were a lot of other kids there because we picked up a lot of kids and the classroom was full. And I usually went with my sister.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: But going back to your regular school, so what was the kind of makeup with Japanese and Caucasian? I mean, was it pretty even?

RY: Oh, no there were more Caucasians than Japanese but there were a few Japanese because at that time they were quite a few Japanese living in Hollywood. One thing I remember is we had a lot of Jewish people, a lot of Jewish people lived in Hollywood and when they had Jewish holidays we got the day off because there wasn't anybody in school.

TI: Oh, interesting. So you got both the regular the Christian holidays and the Jewish holidays?

RY: Yeah and so I always used to ask my friends, "When's your next holiday?" [Laughs] And the synagogue was right next across the street from the school so we used to go and sit there and watch them going in to church.

TI: Now why was there such a large Jewish population there?

RY: I'm not sure. I think, well, Hollywood had a lot of Jewish people, I don't know why.

TI: So back then, were there families that worked in the film industry or entertainment industry?

RY: Well, of course the Japanese were all mostly gardeners. I don't remember what the Caucasian families did. There was quite a mixture of races living on my street is all I can think of. And we had Chinese, Caucasians.

TI: And so which high school would you have gone to?

RY: I would've... if I would have been there I would have gone to Hollywood High.

TI: Okay.

RY: Yeah.

TI: And so with your friends, what are some typical things you would do to play? I mean, what are some activities?

RY: Well, used to play football in the street and in the evenings we'd play kick the can. That was fun and then I met this one Caucasian kid and he was into model making and I got together with him and he was teaching me how to make model airplanes with gas model, gas powered model airplanes and we'd take it out and he'd fly them, you know. And I got pretty close to that family.

TI: Now in those days, were they attached with a string and they would go in a circle?

RY: No, it was free flight balsa wood planes.

TI: So you would just sort of... they would take off?

RY: Yeah, it would take off and then they had timers on it so the engine would go so far and then it would stop and then it would glide around.

TI: Oh, I see. So the engine would take it up high enough and then you would set it in a way that it would kind of go more in circles so that it wouldn't --

RY: Sometimes it would catch a thermal and we'd have to jump in the car and chase it. So that was quite a family.

TI: Interesting, so it sounds like you were pretty close to this family?

RY: Yeah, the family really took good care of me. As a matter of fact I was with them flying model airplanes the day of Pearl Harbor.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: So tell me about that. I was going to ask about Pearl Harbor, so this is December 7, 1941.

RY: Well, December 7th, yeah, we were out in Gardena. They had this big field where they had model airplane and about I forget what time it was but somebody said, "Japan attacked Pearl Harbor," and I go, where's Pearl Harbor? I didn't have any idea where it was and then they start using the J-word and I go --

TI: I'm sorry and who was using the J-word?

RY: Well, all these people listening to the radio.

TI: Oh, so just around --

RY: "The Japs are attacking Pearl Harbor," and at that time it was funny because I didn't feel the difference. I thought I was just one of the kids in the neighborhood. I knew I wasn't a Caucasian but nobody ever called me a "Jap" or they didn't say I was different or anything until that day. And it was sort of a weird feeling to have... 'cause then I realized that I was Japanese and they were referring to "Japs" and I knew I was a "Jap" because that's what they were talking about. But the worst thing was the next day when we went to school.

TI: But before we go there, you talk about this family you're really close to. Did they say anything to you?

RY: No.

TI: Or how about the car ride back home? Because Gardena's pretty far away?

RY: Yeah.

TI: Do you recall the car ride home and what people were talking about or anything like that?

RY: No, I don't recall that but I just... I know I felt kind of bad, you know, knowing that my ancestors attacked my country.

TI: Okay and then you were talking about the next day.

RY: Yeah, next day when we went to school.

TI: Before that, when you got home, did you talk to your parents or your sister about what happened?

RY: No, I don't remember. I think my dad said something but I don't remember what he said.

TI: And I'm trying... so you were, what, thirteen years old?

RY: No, twelve.

TI: Twelve, okay twelve years old.

RY: Actually I was eleven because we didn't go to camp 'til I was twelve.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: And you were going to talk about the next day, you said the next day was hard.

RY: Yeah, the next day was hard when I went to school because how kids are, they're running around saying, "Oh, the Japs this and Japs that," and I knew I was what they were talking about because I was Japanese. But I don't remember anybody giving me a bad time but it's just the way they were talking about Japan and all that I just felt kind of strange.

TI: And when they said this, was it more in general but was some of it targeted right at you?

RY: No, it was more in general, but as a kid you hear people talking and, well, the old saying, I are what I --

TI: I'm sorry what's the saying?

RY: They said I am one.

TI: Oh, yeah okay. Any adults like the teachers or principal, did they say anything that you can remember?

RY: Not that I remember, no.

TI: So any other memories from those weeks right after Pearl Harbor, any other incidents or anything that happened?

RY: Not really. It was just a lot of apprehension and uncertainty and we had a curfew and then we didn't know what was going to happen.

TI: And how about things like the FBI picking up people? Did you hear about that?

RY: Oh, yeah, a lot of people told us that they went into their house and they tore the house apart. And the thing that really sticks in my mind was they even went into people's houses and tore the Kotex box open and went through the Kotex and just shredded the Kotex to make sure there was nothing inside and they just left the mess and just left, you know. I mean, there was no search warrant or anything. They just came and did what they wanted to.

TI: And did you family ever get visited by officials like that?

RY: I don't remember, no. I think they mostly went to people that they had suspected of being sympathizers and teachers and principals.

TI: Yeah, I was just wondering if your family because your grandfather had been living with you and then went to Japan if that maybe put you under suspicion or anything like that but apparently not.

RY: Not really, no.

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

<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.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: Okay, so first impressions of Manzanar, so you take the bus with the shades drawn and it's hours and hours and you finally get there. What's your impression?

RY: A big nowhere, nothing, dusty, barracks all lined up, real stock barracks. There was a... it was nice because you could see the Sierra Nevadas and that's one thing about Manzanar, we had the Sierras in the background and that was kind of pretty but the overall camp was just dry and dusty.

TI: And about when did you go to Manzanar?

RY: I don't know the exact date but it was probably around April or May, somewhere around there.

TI: Okay, and when you got there, was the camp pretty full or were you kind of one of the early ones?

RY: No, the camp was pretty full because when we first got there they stuck us in a room with another family, with another couple as a matter of fact. And the divider was a blanket, they had a blanket strung up and happened to be... that couple happened to have the first baby in Manzanar, yeah, and we were living and it was pretty small.

TI: And so they had the baby when you were there, at the same time?

RY: Yeah.

TI: So that must have been sort of hard because the baby must --

RY: Two families living in that one room and then eventually we got moved out to our own room.

TI: And when you got there was it because they're still building barracks and then you got a new one? Or how did they --

RY: The barracks were already built but they were just assigning them... maybe they were still finishing some of 'em but it was pretty stark and bad in the barracks, too. Yeah, the barracks, they just threw them all together and they had like half inch holes in the floors, spacing and the worst thing was the first thing they gave us was a mattress cover, when you get there. And I said "What's this for?" Well, you go to this hay pile and you stuff it full of hay and that was your mattress. [Laughs] So you had to fill it up with hay, you had to stomp on it to kind of... and the room like I said was pretty stark and all it had was the potbelly stove in there and nothing else. And one thing about the barracks, they had, the ceilings were all open, all the way down the barracks. So you could hear everything going on all the way down to the other end of the barracks, it's pretty bad.

TI: Yeah, especially at the beginning when you're with a baby also.

RY: Yeah.

TI: It's probably crying. So you're twelve years old, about twelve, so what are some of the things that you do those first few days? Do you explore, do you walk around, do you check things out?

RY: Yeah, we explored and we had to see where everything was.

TI: And when you say "we," did you go around as a family or did you do it with your sister or friends? How did you explore?

RY: Well, I think me and my sister went around looking at different things and we had to... first we had to know where the bathroom and everything was because it was out in the center of the barracks there. And then we looked around and see where the mess hall was and where the school was and stuff like that.

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

<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.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So tell me about kind of your daily life, I mean, so you had both parents, your sister and you like for meals, did you eat with your family?

RY: No.

TI: So describe a day, when you wake up in the morning what happens?

RY: Well, go to the mess hall and get our wonderful breakfast.

TI: Now when you say go to the mess hall, was it as a family or who would go with you?

RY: Whoever wanted to go. Most of the time I went by myself, but I don't know if you ever heard about the food it was pretty terrible. I remember getting pancakes for breakfast without any syrup or no margarine even and trying to eat just a pancake is pretty bad. And I know that, I guess the people had a lot of supply of apple butter, so to this day I shun apple butter 'cause that was the only condiment they had on the table.

TI: Okay, so you would wake up, go to the mess hall, have breakfast, and after breakfast, what would you do?

RY: Well, I was going to school, and you had to walk to school so it's on the other side of camp. School was by the main entrance so it was a long ways there. So I remember my block was right by the... we had orphans in the school, too, in the camp too from L.A., it was called the Shonien and it was an orphanage and all the kids from the orphanage were there and I got to know them too. And so we'd go in there and get everybody together and we'd walk down to the school together.

TI: Oh, so you walked with the orphans to school?

RY: Yeah, had a lot of friends from the orphanage because they're in the next building over to us.

TI: So I'm curious about the orphanage. I mean, was their living situation much different than yours?

RY: No, they just had cots and stuff in like a barracks.

TI: And they ate in kind of the same mess halls everyone else did?

RY: Yeah.

TI: And how about their supervision? Was there... was it pretty strict or how would you...

RY: I never got involved in that so I don't know. All I know is I used to go in there and get the guys and we'd go to school.

TI: And the people taking care of them seemed nice?

RY: Yeah, the kids were pretty well-adjusted.

TI: And when you got to school, what was school like? Was school, compared to school in Hollywood, how would you...

RY: School was horrible to me it was horrible because it just... first of all we didn't have very talented teachers. What they did was they had a lot of Maryknoll nuns, Quakers from back east, retired people that used to teach, and some of our people from the camp that were teachers before. So that was like the teaching staff and it's kind of, you know, it wasn't like going to school in Hollywood and I think I just kind of gave up with school as my grades showed.

TI: So you felt like it was almost like a waste of time to go?

RY: Yeah, I kind of, I just... yeah any my grades really showed it too. 'Cause they had the... from the archives you could get all your records from your school and stuff. [Laughs] I got it and I go, oh, my goodness. But it's the old Japanese, your parents still say, "Don't bring shame on the family," "it can't be helped that we're in camp," and they always pound this into you, you know. And, "you got to persevere and," all that stuff and so we tried but I don't know, I just had no interesting in going to school and I suffered for it later.

TI: So then when school's over, what would happen next? What would you do after school?

RY: Well, we just kind of hung around.

TI: But backing up, so midday at lunch time did you go to a mess hall for lunch or did you have food at school or how did that work?

RY: I can't remember.

TI: You packed a lunch maybe from the mess hall for school? Trying to think how they would do that.

RY: I can't remember whether we had lunch or not but I know it was too far to walk back to the mess hall. I don't remember.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: But then after school what did you do?

RY: Well, we usually stayed in somebody's house and we'd listen to records and they taught me how to play pinochle and bridge and hearts and all that and we played a lot of cards. Some of the blocks had basketball courts and most of them had volleyball courts. And so all the people who were living in the block would come out and play volleyball and just stuff like that, but it got pretty boring. One of my recollections is one day we got bored and a couple of us guys decided that we were going to go hiking up to the Sierras which was against the law, right? So we found this one corner of the camp had a park and had a creek running through it and it eroded under the barbed wire. So about three or four of us went under the barbed wire and we spent the day hiking up to the Sierras.

TI: Now did you bring food or anything?

RY: No.

TI: Or like extra clothing or anything like that?

RY: No, just went out there hiking and we didn't even consider the possibility of getting shot if we got caught outside the barbed wire.

TI: And when you're out there, do you remember the feeling it was to be out there outside the barbed wire?

RY: It felt good, felt good and we wanted to go hike up to the snow line, which we did.

TI: And this was like the summertime.

RY: Summertime.

TI: So that's pretty high up, you'd have to hike pretty far.

RY: Yeah, it was pretty warm, too. Manzanar was hot and cold because it's on the edge of the Mohave Desert and then you had the Sierra Nevadas, and so in the wintertime we got snow and then in the summertime we got the heat from the desert.

TI: After you hike all day and you have to go back into camp, how did you get back into camp?

RY: Same way we came, under the barbed wire.

TI: And when you got back did people know that you guys were gone?

RY: No, nobody misses us in the camp, you know.

TI: And so you were talking after school you would sometimes go to someplace and listen to music or play cards or play basketball or volleyball, then I'm guessing you probably then at some point at dinner time would go back to a mess hall and have dinner.

RY: Yeah, they had the big ring that they clanged that each mess hall would... you'd hear the clang and you'd say it's time for dinner, that's our mess hall. But being kids, we would check out other mess halls which we weren't supposed to do to see if they had anything better. [Laughs]

TI: And were there better mess halls?

RY: Well, sometimes, yeah, they had better food but you had to sneak in to get it.

TI: And then after dinner what kind of things would you do? What would the next thing be?

RY: Well, they used to have movies. Of course, these movies were all Maryknoll approved and so they were all like Deanna Durbin and Bing Crosby movies and things like that. And they would send them to all the mess halls at night and so I think I saw Holiday Inn about fifteen times.

TI: So you've mentioned the Maryknoll several times or a couple times at least now, one in terms of teaching and then Maryknoll approved for the movies. Were they pretty prominent in camp, the Maryknoll?

RY: Yeah, they were because like I said, the movies, like we saw a lot of Deanna Durbin movies, you know, nothing exciting. And I know they were trying to help us 'cause nobody else would help us in the camp. But not being Catholic...

TI: And how about jobs? Did you ever have a job when you were in camp?

RY: Yeah, I wanted to get a job, I tried all kinds of jobs, but I was too young. And one summer I got a job at the hospital as a bus boy, I was a minor but they let me work. And I was a bus boy in the hospital and I would shuffle food from the mess hall into the wards. And yeah, that's the only job I ever had.

TI: And was that a volunteer or a paying job?

RY: Oh, sixteen dollars a month.

TI: Okay, so that was a nice paying job especially even though you're so young.

RY: Being a young kid.

TI: Because you're being paid as much as all the adults then.

RY: Yeah, if you worked you got sixteen dollars a month. If you were a professional you got eighteen dollars a month.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: Okay, during, about a year after the bombing of Pearl Harbor at Manzanar they had a disturbance and some people call it the Manzanar riot.

RY: Yes, I remember that very well.

TI: Describe what you remember.

RY: Okay, they had a meeting in the firebreak at night, the first day. Well, before that they had gone to this guy's house and they beat his guy up and he was, I think he was the president of the JACL. And the feeling about the JACL was very bad because they said they were associated with the FBI and the Japanese would call those people inus.

TI: Or dog.

RY: Yeah, and they had the meeting in the firebreak and the firebreaks there are huge and there's no lights or nothing. And so they said, "Okay, name all the people you think are inus," and so people would start saying this guy and that guy, he lives over here and here and there. And they were going to divide up and go to all these people they named and beat 'em up.

TI: And you're at this meeting.

RY: Yeah, well, kids being kids we heard they were going to have a meeting so we were there just listening. And in the meantime, they had the security people, the Caucasian security people, they were in there too and they took all the addresses and they went on their cars 'cause they had cars.

TI: And it was so dark people couldn't see who else was --

RY: You couldn't see who was who. That's why people were naming this guy and that guy. I don't know if they were all informants or not but that's what they did.

TI: And so people didn't realize that the police or the security guys were there.

RY: I guess they didn't 'cause they went around and picked up all the people they had named and took them to a safe area. And this guy that was the president of JACL, he was in the hospital and so after the meeting they found out that all these places were empty so they said, "Okay, we'll go to the hospital and pull that guy out and finish him off." And since we lived in the block next to the hospital we just went up there to watch. I swear I thought was going to see somebody get shot there. 'Cause a guard was there with his rifle and he told us, I think he was a Kibei guy and said, "Halt." And the Kibei guy kept walking and he just went up to the guard and pushed the rifle aside and walked in.

TI: And so the rifle was pointed right at him?

RY: Yeah, but he just sort of pushed it aside and I guess there was so many people there that the guard, he was by himself, and I guess he was more scared than anything. And they went into the hospital and they had removed that guy from the hospital, too. And so the next thing they did was they said, okay we'll go down to the jail, which was at the entrance to Manzanar, and take out the guy that was accused of beating up the JACL guy. I don't know whether he was the one or not but the crowd all went down there and they were mulling around the police station. But I remember they had the military about a foot apart all the way around the jail with Thompson submachine guns, you know. And being kids, we went down there to see what was going on and they were singing Japanese military songs and this that and raving and stuff. They did this for a while and we said, "Ah, this is boring, let's get out of here." And good thing we did because we went back to our barracks and what happened was some of the demonstrators threw rocks at the GIs. Well, they in turn, to protect themselves, I don't know if it was an instinct or not, they started shooting... throwing tear gas first and then came more rocks. And so as the people were running away from the tear gas, they open fire on 'em and that's when I worked at the hospital. So I know these people got shot and it was about fifteen people got shot and one kid got killed, he was only sixteen, he was down there like me watching, just curious, and he was killed. And these people that were in the hospital, they were all laying on their stomachs. I go why are they laying on their stomach because I was bringing in the food. And they were all shot in the back so they couldn't lay on their back. I remember that.

TI: So they were all running away and they got shot in the back.

RY: Yeah, and they got shot. Because they didn't have any weapons, so I thought that was pretty bad. And the worst thing was the girl that I worked with at the hospital, it was her brother that was shot so it was kind of sad. And that's what I remember of the riot.

TI: And so what was the mood of the people? I mean, were they angry?

RY: They were angry. Yeah, we had a lot of agitators in the camp and the Japanese are easily moved, I think, when people start talking. And they were all angry because of people getting shot.

TI: And so how was this all resolved? I mean, people are angry, people are shot, how did it calm down?

RY: I'm not sure. They had patrols going around the camp and I don't know how they resolved it but it got resolved.

TI: And do you recall any conversations with your father or mother about this?

RY: No.

TI: And what were their feelings about this? Were they also angry?

RY: Yeah, most of the people were angry because the people got shot in the back and they were running away and not attacking the guards so I don't know how they resolved it but they did resolve it.


TI: So, Richard, we're going to start the second part where in the first part you had just ended up talking about the Manzanar, the shootings at Manzanar. I think you mentioned fifteen people shot or something. I think when I went through the records, I think it's more like around six were actually shot, maybe not fifteen.

RY: Oh, there's more than that.

TI: Were there more than that? Okay.

RY: Yeah.

TI: I think I've seen six.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: But before we move on, during the break you mentioned a couple other stories that I want to go back and catch. One was going back to Hollywood, so before the war, you were going to talk about your uncle, and so tell me about your uncle.

RY: My uncle was a very studious kid and he was... well, the junior high school by the house where he went, he was the class president as a matter of fact, first Japanese American to be class president. It was Le Conte Junior High and he wanted to be a doctor. So he went to Hollywood High and he became the valedictorian of the class when he graduated and he was looking forward to getting the American Legion Scholarship Award that usually goes to the valedictorian. Well, I guess the racial prejudice was pretty high at that time and so they awarded it to a Caucasian kid who was not the valedictorian and so my uncle didn't get the scholarship. And so his dream about becoming a doctor just went down the tubes because he couldn't afford to... he wanted to go to UCLA and he couldn't afford it. So in the long run, to make a long story short, he became a dentist which he could do without going through all of the medical school and all that. So I thought I'd just mention that because my mom was really disappointed at that time because she said he didn't get it and the Caucasian boy got it and I thought that was very unfair to him, being the valedictorian of Hollywood High.

TI: Now was your uncle bitter about this? Did you ever get a sense that because of that he became bitter?

RY: I think he was a little bitter about that.

TI: Did the teachers or anything acknowledge him in a different way? I mean, they must have all seen that too. They know kind of that the valedictorian always got the scholarship and then he didn't get it.

RY: I don't really know about that because all I know is my mom was really angry and disappointed that he didn't get it. And I didn't go to the Hollywood High so I don't really know.

TI: And this was your mother's brother?

RY: Yeah, my mother's youngest brother.

TI: And what was his name? Do you remember?

RY: His name was Kenji Horita.

TI: Okay, and so Kenji, he was Issei?

RY: He was Nisei.

TI: He was Nisei?

RY: Yeah.

TI: Okay.

RY: He was the reason why we went to Manzanar because when the relocation came about, they had different sectors for different camps. And actually we were in the sector that was scheduled to go to Heart Mountain, Wyoming, and he lived in the sector that was scheduled to go to Manzanar. But in order to go to Heart Mountain, we would've had to have gone to Santa Anita Assembly Center first. And my parents, they were pretty smart, they said, "Well we don't want to do this twice," so instead of going to the assembly center and then going to Heart Mountain, we just go straight to Manzanar. We had a choice either go Heart Mountain or go with my uncle to Manzanar so we went to Manzanar.

TI: That's interesting so and the reason being they just didn't want to do it twice.

RY: Yeah, and I'm glad we didn't go to the Santa Anita 'cause I wouldn't want to live in the stables, you know.

TI: The other story you told off camera that I thought was interesting, you were just telling me about at Manzanar, the orchards between like the firebreaks and things were orchards?

RY: Some of the firebreaks had orchards because it was like apple orchards and pear orchards. And so a lot of times on the way to school when the pears got fairly ripe, they were hard green pears, good chewing, and we would climb the trees, stuff our pockets full of pears and be eating pears on the way to school.

TI: So was that kind of a mischievous thing to do? You weren't supposed to do that?

RY: No, the pears were there for the picking, nobody was... we just happened to live next to a pear orchard.

TI: Now did you ever try the pears when they were like tree ripened? Versus you said you ate them when they're kind of green.

RY: I never tried ripe pears but the green ones were pretty good.

TI: Were they? Okay, good.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Okay, so let's continue with your story. So after the shootings at Manzanar, this was at the end of 1942, at the beginning of '43 they started having people fill out what a lot of people call the "loyalty questionnaire," the leave clearance form. Do you remember that?

RY: I remember that but I was too young. I wasn't involved in filling any of that out. And my sister had to fill it out and my parents did, but they just ignored me, I was too young, and I'm glad I didn't have to do that because I thought it was kind of stupid myself. But as a kid, no, you know.

TI: And so what did your family do? I mean, how did they answer the form?

RY: I think, I'm not positive, but I think they answered "no-no," that's why that was the first step to going to Tule Lake, to the segregation camp. And that was the very first step to going to Japan. And like I said, my father said that he wanted to go back to his own country where this would never happen to him again. And so I'm pretty sure they must have been "no-nos" because otherwise we wouldn't have gone to Tule. And that's when they started segregating the camp from the people that said "no-no" which they figured were "disloyal" people and the other ones, they would get ready to go relocate outside.

TI: And so segregate within Manzanar too, they were doing that or just at Tule?

RY: No, they would segregate us into Tule Lake because Tule Lake was, at that time it was known as a segregation center and it was huge. Tule Lake was a huge camp, I think it was probably one of the hugest ones.

TI: Now when you found out that you were going to be moved from Manzanar to Tule Lake segregation camp, how did you feel about that?

RY: Well, like I said, being a kid, it just didn't really bother me that much. But I know that when I first went to... when we went to Tule Lake, it was a weird feeling because the people in Tule Lake knew all these people coming from other camps where the "no-nos" and all that. So that the people that were there prior to all these other people moving in, didn't like us. And I'll tell you a funny story, the first day I went to school is in algebra class and I sat next to this kid, and just out of conversation he says, "Where'd you come from?" I said, "Manzanar." Well, he didn't talk to me the rest of the time 'cause he didn't like people from Manzanar. And the funny thing of it was he was a Monterey boy and when I went to Monterey, I married a Monterey girl and I got to know all these people from Monterey and I happened to run into him and I said, "Fujio, do you remember the time when I went to the algebra class and you asked me what camp I was from and I told you I was from Manzanar and you never talked to me after that?" And he kind of laughed it off but I thought that was ironic.

TI: Now, so he was at Tule but his family "yes-yes"?

RY: Yeah, I'm pretty sure because they went back to Monterey, yeah. Like I said, the people in Tule didn't really like us coming over there and the camp got pretty hard then, too, you know. It was a lot of agitators.

TI: And so just sort of in general, what was the difference between Manzanar and Tule Lake? How would you compare the two?

RY: Tule Lake had double fencing. They had a barricade about twelve feet away from the barbed wire fence and that was like no man's land. You couldn't go into that restricted area.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So like Manzanar you talked about able to just go underneath the barbed wire and go to the Sierras.

RY: Well, you could go up to the barbed wire at Manzanar because there wasn't any barrier in between, but Tule Lake they had this barrier.

TI: So you wouldn't be able to go out?

RY: No, 'cause if they caught you in between the no man's land, they could shoot you. They tell you they could shoot you there.

TI: So security was much higher at Tule Lake?

RY: Yeah, and when we got to Tule Lake, they had just finished their riot. They had some kind of riot and so they had these armored cars patrolling the camp streets. I go, oh, my goodness.

TI: And so how did that make you feel when you saw the extra security?

RY: Made me feel really bad because I go boy, this must be a bad place you know. These armored cars with the machine gun mounted on there patrolling the streets, it's just kind of scary.

TI: And so tell me, what else about Tule Lake did you notice?

RY: Well, let me think. The school was just as bad. I guess I wasn't really interested in going to school but they had a bigger school and the people, I stuck around Manzanar people because we were from Manzanar. And it just sort of, I don't know how to describe it. It's just like you became part of people from Manzanar, the fishermen and all that, they just sort of came together as a group like we're the Manzanar people. Manzanar had a bad rap in Tule Lake. I said, "How come?" They said well, they had a basketball game in the gym and I don't know if Manzanar people were winning or Tule Lake people, but they had a big fight, a big brawl and they picked up the tables and they're throwing the tables and the typewriters and everything. And so that's probably why they didn't like people from Manzanar, but I had just got there. I didn't know anything about that, so it was really weird.

TI: How about things like, I heard when Tule Lake became a segregation camp, they had like a Japanese language school and things like that --

RY: That was in preparation to... once you decided that you were going to go back to Japan they had Japanese schools set up so that we could refresh our memory, I guess, and learn more Japanese. And there's a funny thing about that too 'cause one of my Japanese school teacher was a bonsan from Hawaii and I got to talking to him and I said, I have an uncle living there, the uncle that got off the boat, he was in Hawaii, and it turned out that this bonsan was the bonsan for my uncle's town so he knew my uncle and the family there. I thought that was a coincidence, too.

TI: Small world, huh.

RY: Yeah, but I used to go to school too, Japanese school. There's a lot of, in Tule Lake there was a lot of peer pressure I thought and my dad put a lot of pressure on me I know. And the parents wanted me to go to Japanese school. And I guess you heard about the groups that were pro-Japan, they would get out and put hachimakis on.

TI: Being a Hoshidan.

RY: Hoshidan and I didn't want to join that. My dad kept pushing me and pushing me so my friends all joined it so it became a peer pressure thing and I think I joined it, shaved my head and put the hachimaki on and I was running around the camp like the rest of the fools, you know. Five o'clock in the morning we'd get up and go out there and it was really a pro-Japan organization because we got up and we faced the east and bowed and all that. I still don't know what I was doing in there.

TI: And how about the other boys that were with you? I mean was there you say you didn't know what you were doing but how did it feel? Were you kind of proud of being Japanese by doing this?

RY: Yeah, I guess once you get in that group and you're running around, I think you feel like a lot comradeship with the other people there and I guess maybe you do feel a little proud. But then I think a lot of it was showing off to the other people, too, you know.

TI: Because you guys were pretty loud too, you would make noises.

RY: Yeah, we'd go, "Wasshoi, wasshoi," and oh, that was stupid when I think about it now.

TI: And this was five o'clock in the morning.

RY: Yeah, and then we used to do exercises and all that, but I know I was more or less pressured into doing that from my parents, my dad mostly.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

RY: And at that time I remember my dad, I guess he must have been in some organization because he got picked up and stuck in... they took him to another camp. I don't know if it was... oh, for --

TI: You mean like a Department of Justice Camp like Santa Fe or --

RY: I think it was Santa Fe but they stuck him in there.

TI: I think some were Bismarck also, Bismarck and Santa Fe.

RY: I think it was in Bismarck. But he got picked up and he was gone for about a year so it was just my mom and us.

TI: And how did that make you feel, that they picked up your father and took him to another camp?

RY: I was just wondering, I was thinking I don't know what he did wrong, you know. I never did find out 'cause he wouldn't tell me. But I just didn't understand why they did that. But then I guess if you join a certain organization that was disloyal, I guess then you went.

TI: Yeah, I think what they did was lot of the leaders of those organizations, it's not that they did anything wrong, but it was more by being part of these organizations.

RY: But I didn't think, I didn't really think he was a leader, but maybe he was.

TI: And how long did you participate in these activities, the exercises the running?

RY: Oh, 'til we went to Japan.

TI: So are you talking about weeks or months or what was that?

RY: It was probably months.

TI: And how about the boys who didn't participate, who didn't shave their head, the hair off their head and things like that? I mean how were they treated at Tule Lake?

RY: They were treated okay, I mean, you know.

TI: 'Cause you mentioned the peer pressure, I mean was there peer pressure to try to get them to join?

RY: Well, what at that time when I was in Tule Lake, I was hanging around the people from San Pedro. And they were more inclined to be pro-Japan so I think that's what happened to me.

TI: They also had a reputation for being pretty rough and tough, too.

RY: Oh, yeah, they were rough and tough and they were... but they treated me good. As a matter of fact, when I went to Japan I went to visit a couple of them because we all went back on the same boat, so we became good friends.

TI: So even though they were rough and tough, you weren't afraid of them?

RY: No, like I said, I guess I'm fairly easy to get along with. [Laughs]

TI: Now did they ever do anything that surprised you? Like rough and tough, I mean, sometimes when you are part of a group, was there anything that you observed like, wow, that's really... "I wouldn't do that." or something like that?

RY: Well, I never went with them but I heard they got in a few fights with other groups in the camp, with chains and baseball bats and stuff. I said, "I'm not going to go on that," you know. I'm a lover not a fighter. [Laughs]

TI: And who would they fight? I mean --

RY: The other people in Tule.

TI: And what would they fight about?

RY: God only knows. just because they're from Manzanar or they didn't like the way they talked or, you know.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: You mentioned earlier the, oh, the city boys, the zoot suits. Were there zoot suiters also at Tule Lake?

RY: No, not too many.

TI: 'Cause that was like another culture. So that would be...

RY: Yeah, as a matter of fact that friend of mine that had the zoot suit the day of the riot he was in jail, he was in the jail where they were... the rioters were down there. And he was in there because they caught him smoking pot.

TI: Now where would someone get pot?

RY: I have no idea.

TI: So somehow he found a way of smuggling that in?

RY: Yeah, and at that time, pot was the worst thing you could ever do as far as narcotics went. You never heard of the hard stuff, but marijuana was a bad word then. He was in there and yeah, I remember that.

TI: Now I'm curious, how did the fishermen from Terminal Island think about the zoot suiters? Again the culture --

RY: Oh, they didn't like 'em.

TI: Just the cultures are so different.

RY: Even before camp they used to always be at each others' throat, you know. 'Cause the guys from downtown L.A., they thought they were bad too you know.

TI: Yeah, because some of them were pretty tough too.

RY: Oh, yeah, but the fishermen, they grow up tough, you know.

TI: So you associated more with the fishermen than anyone else it seems like?

RY: Well, in Tule, yeah.

TI: Any other kind of memories of Tule that kind of stand out, any stories or anything?

RY: There wasn't too much that I remember in Tule except the time when we left to go to Japan. That was horrible.

TI: So before we go there, what about your sister? How was she kind of handling all this?

RY: Well, she always did what my parents wanted her to do, you know.

TI: Because she was like born and raised in the United States. I mean, she's a couple years older so she's a older teenager. I would think that it would be hard for her to do this also.

RY: Oh, she was pretty easygoing and she usually followed what my mom said, you know. Like I guess I was pretty much a rebel myself, but she went along with everything my mom said.

TI: Now did you ever show any displeasure about going to Japan? Did you ever tell your mother?

RY: Yes, I did, I told my dad before, I said, "I don't want to go to Japan." This is before they shipped him out, I said, "I don't want to go to Japan because that's not my country. I was born and raised here and I don't know anything about Japan, I don't want to go." And my dad, I remember he told me, he said he didn't care what I said because he's going to go back to his own country where this will never happen to him again, the relocation. So what could I do? I was a minor so I didn't have a choice. But then we got into it in Japan.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: Okay, well, let's talk about the journey now from Tule Lake to Japan. So from Tule Lake where did you go?

RY: We went to Portland, Oregon, and they had a troop ship waiting for us. And they just jammed everybody into the compartments. It was horrible.

TI: And at this point had your father rejoined the family?

RY: Yeah, all the people from the other camps came in they joined the family. And I wasn't too happy but I didn't have a choice.

TI: And see, this is after the war, 1945, so you're sixteen years old?

RY: Yeah.

TI: So you're now reaching almost adulthood, you're almost a young man.

RY: Yeah. I remember one of the sad parts of my life was as we were pulling out of Portland I kind of worked my way up to the top side and was looking out the doorway and I could see the city lights going by and the thought in my mind was, "God, I hate leaving my country. What am I going to do over in a foreign country?" And I was wondering, "When am I going to be able to come back?" And that was a horrible feeling for me, but I didn't have a choice.

TI: Okay, so now you're on the ship and now you're going across the Pacific. What was that like?

RY: It was the roughest trip I ever had in a boat. We had a storm or something and the ship would go out of the water and then bounce down, oh, it was horrible.

TI: So lots of seasickness.

RY: Oh, yeah, everybody was seasick. But then being... I was thinking, there's got to be someplace on this ship where it isn't that bad, and I found out that the galley down below the center of the fulcrum was the best place to be when the ship is rocking because it's right in the middle. So I got a job working in the mess hall down there.

TI: So once you figured that out it was a lot better for you?

RY: Yeah, plus you got food, get food. That was a rough trip.

TI: And what was the mood on the ship going across? I mean, were people, some people excited about going to Japan?

RY: Oh, yeah, they were excited, but like people my age, they weren't, I don't think I was excited. I was more apprehensive.

TI: Now I've heard stories that some people on the ship still believed that Japan had won the war.

RY: Oh, yeah, that was the propaganda that they had circulated at Tule Lake.

TI: And so how did you deal with that? When some people said Japan won the war.

RY: I knew in my heart that we won the war. I say "we" because I figure I was an American and I didn't believe that.

TI: And so when people would say those things you would just sort of just ignore it kind of? Or how would you deal with that?

RY: I just ignored it.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: Okay, so you eventually get to Japan after a really rough, rough ride, and then what happens?

RY: Well, we get to this Japanese reception center at a place called Kuriyama and it was a reception center for all of the Japanese returning from the South Pacific and all of the other places that Japan had. And so it was a pretty rough place and these people, they would steal you blind. We had to sit on our baggage.

TI: So other Japanese would steal from each other?

RY: Yeah, because when you got to Japan there was no food, there's no clothing, there's nothing. And they fed us there but it was like napa with some broth in there, you know. And I made the mistake of... it was in the barracks, it was dark, and you could eat it, it was alright. But what I made the mistake was to go outside and eat it and there's a bunch of worms on the bottom. [Laughs]

TI: And so inside it's too dark to really see what you're eating.

RY: Yeah, and I go, oh my god, so they gave us like some dog biscuits, like hard, so I ate that the rest of the time. [Laughs] And we stayed there a few days before we went back to Hiroshima.

TI: And you went there, 'cause earlier you talked about being reunited with your grandfather. Is that where your grandfather was?

RY: My grandfather was in Hiroshima. My dad, we went to Hiroshima because we couldn't go to Okinawa and so we went to my mother's family's side and went up to where she was born and raised. It was nice for her to see all her family, her sister and cousins and stuff. But I wasn't happy.

TI: But Hiroshima, so the atomic bomb --

RY: Oh, that's another thing.

TI: So what was the --

RY: That's another thing. When they dropped the bomb, people didn't know anything about radiation or anything, and so they dropped it in, was it October I think wasn't it?

TI: It was August.

RY: August, well, I walked through Hiroshima in ,I think it was January or February the next year, which is only like six months removed. And I don't know if I got radioactive or not because that was ground zero. And I just was curious and I could stand by the railroad station and I could see, I don't know how many miles it was, but I could see the Japan Sea down the other end. There was nothing else in between.

TI: 'Cause it was just flattened.

RY: Just flattened.

TI: No buildings standing.

RY: Yeah. And the other night I was watching the news when they had the tsunami and one of the Japanese says, "It looks like Hiroshima." And I said, no way does it look like Hiroshima because when I walked through Hiroshima city there wasn't a stitch of wood on the ground.

TI: 'Cause everything had burned.

RY: Everything was disintegrated. The only thing that was standing in the Hiroshima city was the department store which was concrete. But I went inside the concrete building and there wasn't a stitch of wood even where the stairways they'd put in forms to make the stairs, that was all gone you could see just spaces. But I remember that.

TI: And when you were there were there very many people in the city?

RY: There were some people trying to salvage stuff and getting tin, what do you call it, the tin teppan they call it and they try to make shelters, but it wasn't very nice.

TI: And was your grandfather there when the bomb...

RY: My grandfather, he was very fortunate, he lived out in the country, he owned property in Hiroshima and he was supposed to go to Hiroshima and get the rent money. Well, he happened to get a big sliver in his foot and he couldn't walk, so that day he dropped the bomb he was at home in the country and that saved him from getting killed.

TI: Otherwise he would have been right there.

RY: Otherwise he would have been in the city. And I remember my mother's cousin was there and he got a whole new layer of skin, and when I saw him he was just pink, you know, totally burned.

TI: And he survived though.

RY: He survived but I guess he was from Hawaii, too. See, he went back to Hawaii and he had leukemia from the radiation and he had to have his leg amputated and he didn't make it. But when I saw him he was laying down there on the bed and he was just pink.

TI: 'Cause all his skin had burned off.

RY: All the skin burned off. And I go oh, my goodness and there were a lot of people around there that were burnt and the Japanese didn't know how to treat it. I don't think the Americans knew either 'cause that's the first time they ever dropped the bomb.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: Now as you're going around to these different cities, do you see American soldiers around?

RY: No, I didn't see any there. That was... Hiroshima was the British sector and so I didn't see any British soldiers until I got into Kure, which a town next to where we went with my mother. And that was the British sector so they had Indians and British troops.

TI: Now I'm curious because you speak English, did you ever use your English, did you ever go up there and just start talking?

RY: Yeah.

TI: And what was the reaction when they heard you?

RY: Well, they were, they liked to talk to me and so as a matter of fact when I was there, see when I was... going back, once I got there I had words with my dad. And my generation, you never talked back to your dad. Well, here I am sixteen years old and we get there and the Japanese government says, "You were born in America, you're not Japanese." And then we got word that the Americans said, "You repatriated to Japan, you lost your citizenship." And so here I am, sixteen, I have no country that I can claim as my own and so I had words with my dad and I said, "I told you I didn't want to come and look what you brought me into, this is a defeated country. It's not my country." The people didn't like us either because we talked different, we spoke English, we dressed different. And I don't know if you're familiar with the Japanese but they say we're namaiki, that's means we're like cocky. But I personally I felt that way because I thought I was still an American and I figured we won the war, but it was funny. And so at sixteen, after I had words with my dad --

TI: And when you stood up to your to father like this, what was his reaction?

RY: He didn't say anything. It's the first time he didn't, he didn't really get mad at me because he knew I was right. And I said, "The first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to go back to my own country as soon as I can." And he didn't say anything because he knew how bad it was there. There wasn't any food you know, it was bad. And I left home, I went over to the Australian camp and got a job as an interpreter and they fed us and they put us up and they gave us a place to sleep.

TI: Now why the Australian camp?

RY: Because that was --

TI: That's the sector you were in.

RY: Yeah.

TI: It was the British sector.

RY: Yeah. And I stayed there for almost a year and I started getting a yearning to go back and work with the Americans which were up north. They were in Osaka and I was down in Hiroshima. So me and a friend went up to Osaka and it was easy to get a job because they were looking for people that spoke Japanese and English. And my friend went to Kyoto and I got a job in Osaka working for the Civil Censorship Detachment at the post office and as a telephone operator.

TI: Now were there very many others like you who had come, that were Nisei that had come to Japan and were working for occupation forces?

RY: When I worked in Hiroshima there was a friend of mine that was working there with me and there was another guy, he was one of those people that got stuck in Japan during the war and there was like three or four of us there. And when I went up to Osaka they treated us different. They called us foreign nationals and they had a billet strictly for foreign nationals and I met a lot of my friends over there from camp, they were working there. And I met a lot of people from all over the country. There was people from South America, people from Canada that that repatriated to Japan.

TI: They were all classified as foreign nationals?

RY: Yeah, and they were really good to us. They gave us billeting and food, they fed us, they had a mess hall there. And they would take us to work every morning and I had fun there, actually, because it's all the American kids and played football and all that stuff.

TI: Now I'm curious of the people there, the foreign nationals that were American, how many of them came back to the United States and how many stayed in Japan?

RY: Well, all the ones I knew came back but I don't know what happened to the Canadians and the other people. But I met some people from Hawaii there too that got stuck there during the war. And I know they went back, but, see when... you had to have your passport which I didn't have. You couldn't do nothing without a passport 'cause I had no country so to speak. And in the meantime they had these trials here in San Francisco. I don't know if you ever hear of Wayne Collins. He had some cases where I guess some minors went to court because they said they lost their citizenship because of the questionnaire, and he won the case and they said it was not legal because we were minors, anybody under eighteen.

TI: I think they even established that if they were under twenty-one...

RY: Under twenty-one, yeah. So anyway, the word came out that if you wanted to get your passport, get reinstated, you'd have to go to American consulate, make an appointment, get all the documents they wanted you to get and have a hearing. And so that's what I did.

TI: And what documents did you have to get?

RY: It was pretty stupid because I had to get documents from the Japanese government. I had to get the family history and the military history. I said, "I don't have no military history. I wasn't even here," you know. But I got all the documents they asked for -- this is the American consulate -- and you have a hearing and they tell you whether it's approved or not. And that was one of the happiest moments of my life time is when I got my passport and I knew I was an American and I had someplace to go to you know.

TI: You now had a country.

RY: Yeah, I had my country, I had an American passport.

TI: So you said, one of the happiest times of your life. I mean, tell me a little bit more about that, so what it felt like not having that.

RY: It was kind of weird because I couldn't say... I knew I was an American, but I couldn't do anything, I couldn't go back to the States. And that kind of got to me because I wanted to go home. And so when I got that I said, "I can finally do it. I can go back to the States and I have a place where I belong." 'Cause we had fun in Japan, but it wasn't my place.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: I just wanted to touch upon this a little bit, but so after the war, Japan was a devastated country, I mean do you have any memories or stories about some of the devastation in terms of what you saw in terms of what the Japanese had to live in during this time?

RY: You mean in Japan?

TI: Yeah, in Japan.

RY: I know that the town next to where my mom lived, they were totally wiped out too from the incendiary raid. It was a town called Kure which used to be the Japanese naval academy town. And they just made an incendiary raid and they ripped the town down all the way up to the hills.

TI: So how did families come back from this? I mean, especially if they didn't have food or like farmland? How did people survive?

RY: Well, a lot of people had farmlands up in the hills, these little plots.

TI: Yeah, but the ones that didn't, the ones who lived in the city?

RY: Oh, they were begging. There were a lot of beggars, a lot of thieves, and that was kind of hard to see.

TI: So you were one of the fortunate ones because you could get work, first the Australians and then the Americans because of your language ability.

RY: Yeah, we got a ration from the Japanese government because we were living there, but it was like one cup of rice per person a day. And we ate a lot of... I don't know what you call mugimeshi but it's wheat, I think it's wheat and it's horrible. And like in order to let the rice last through the day you had to have like okai, you know what okai is? The rice soup in the morning with vegetables and stuff in there.

TI: And here you were a young man, you probably, it was hard for you because you probably wanted to eat a lot more food.

RY: Yeah, it wasn't my cup of tea. So when I started working for the Australians, we used to go to the mess hall after they all ate, then we got leftover food.

TI: When you were working for the Americans, was there ever a situation where because you were at Tule and then came across with the other renunciants, that working for the Americans was hard to do? I guess what I'm going after, I've heard a story where at some point there was an order from headquarters that said, "Don't hire Japanese Americans who came from the United States because they renounced their citizenship and they shouldn't be working for the government."

RY: I never heard that because they hired us pretty quickly, you know. It was like they wanted people that spoke English and Japanese to do these jobs like the switchboard. Either the Japanese would call or the Americans would call in so I had no problem finding a job.

TI: Okay, yeah, I mean, I heard that story so I was just curious if you --

RY: I never heard that story.

TI: -- if you heard that, okay.

RY: The only thing I know is that after I got my passport, I thought since I have my passport, since I'm an American, I think I'll join the American army here. And I tried to join the American army and I filled in all the paperwork at Osaka and I almost made it but it got up to General McArthur's headquarters and they disapproved it.

TI: And did they give you a reason why?

RY: No, they just said the induction is unfavorably... you know.

TI: So they just said "no" essentially.

RY: No.

TI: Interesting.

RY: But they were ready to let me enlist and I didn't know where I was going to do basic training. But maybe it's a good thing I didn't because I would have been in the 25th Infantry Division, they were the first ones to go to Korea. So it's a lot of things, so I decided then that I was going to go back to Hawaii and join the army and come back as a occupation force.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: And so how did you get from Japan to -- well, before we even go there, so you have your passport, did you have any contact with your parents or your sister before you left Japan?

RY: Oh, yeah, yeah.

TI: And so what did they think that now that you had your American passport?

RY: Well, I don't think I really cared. I said, "I'm going to go back." But then the only problem was that at that time we had no access to American money and so I had to find a sponsor so to speak. And I wrote my uncle in Hawaii and he sent me the money for the boat fare to go back. So that's how I got back from Japan to the States.

TI: And your parents and your sister stayed in Japan?

RY: My parents and my sister stayed, and then after I got back, then my sister came.

TI: And so she went through the same process of getting her U.S. passport and doing all that?

RY: Yeah, 'cause she had her passport too.

TI: Now did your parents ever come back?

RY: Yeah, after me and my sister came back my mom says, "If the kids are going back, I want to go back too." And so I had to get a visa for quota. I got a quota for my mom, she came back and I guess my dad got a little lonely by himself so he said he wanted to come so I had to get a visa quota for him too. So eventually the family all got together and we were living in Monterey and they were living in Monterey. But it took a while before my dad got back. By then I was married and had a kid or two.

TI: And this was while you're in the air force at this point?

RY: I was in the army. See when I went back to Hawaii, like I said I wanted to go back to Japan as part of the occupation forces and so I told my uncle that I'm going to join the army and he wanted me to stay and go to school. He said he'd pay my way through college and all that but I said no, I want to go back. So when I went to the recruiting office they were recruiting linguists for Japan, and since I knew the basics, read and write basics, and speak basics they said, "Okay you can put in the army language school in Monterey and go for nine months and then go back to Japan." And I thought, I figured that was the best way to... that was a guaranteed assignment to Japan. So that's what I did, I joined the army and signed up for the army language school in Monterey and I went to school there for nine months learning Japanese.

TI: And when you were learning Japanese, that's when your parents came?

RY: No, they came back later. My sister came back.

TI: And then how did it feel going back to Japan as part of the occupation?

RY: I was, felt like really cocky, you know.

TI: 'Cause here you were an American.

RY: Here I am an American. I'm coming back as a "conquering American." not one of the...

TI: And so did you go visit your parents and people?

RY: Yeah, it was funny. My dad, he was always into the military uniforms and stuff and he got happy when he saw me in my uniform and all that. I guess he knew I was right. I didn't want to stay in Japan like that.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: And when you're in Japan, occupation, you talked about a linguist. So what did you do in Japan as part of the army?

RY: Well, I was attached to the MI group in Tokyo, they had the NYK building in downtown Tokyo and that was the Military Intelligence headquarters there. And they had linguists but then everybody can't be a linguist so I was working in the Military Intelligence side as a research and information clerk, that was my job. But it was nice because we lived in the building and we worked in the building, we ate in the building, everything was in that one building. And it was downtown Tokyo a block away from the main Tokyo station, so it was nice.

TI: And so how many years were you in Japan doing this?

RY: At that time I was there a year and a half, yeah and then my enlistment was just about over and so I told my wife, I said... see in the meantime I had... there was another problem when I went to the language school. Because I graduated in nine months but we couldn't ship out because it was Military Intelligence. You had to have a security clearance in order to ship out and since I had been moving around so much of my life, it took the American government a long time to get me my interim secret clearance. So in the meantime I met my wife in Monterey and I got married. And it took me a couple of years before I could go back to Japan, it was the occupation and then I finally got my interim secret clearance and so that meant I could ship out.

TI: Okay, do you think it took longer to get your clearance because of going to Tule Lake when you left?

RY: Yeah, plus I went to Japan.

TI: Japan, right.

RY: And they were supposed to check all the places I've been to, I don't know how they did it.

TI: But then I guess the good thing is that gave you time to meet your wife and get married.

RY: Yeah.

TI: Now did she go to Japan with you?

RY: Well, when I was there and my enlistment was just about over after a year a half, I said, "Do you want to come to Japan?" She said, "What's faster, you coming home or me going to Japan?" I said, "Probably me coming home," so she said, "Come home." But I said, "If you come to Japan you could stay here for about five, six years." But she said, "No, I want you to come home," but she should have gone because she could've met all her family over there in Kagoshima and all that and so she never went to Japan.

TI: So you returned to Monterey?

RY: Yeah, I returned to Monterey and got stationed in Monterey.

TI: Now did you get stationed with the language school there?

RY: Yeah.

TI: Okay.

RY: And then that's when the Korean War started but I was... I got my orders to go back to the Far East and I was waiting for a ship from Camp Stoneman, which is a shipping camp, and the Korean War broke out. And so they took everybody that was waiting to ship out for the Far East and put 'em on the ship to go to Korea. And I think there was like sixteen of us, they dropped us off in Tokyo and when... before we shipped out they stamped our duffle bags with the address that we're supposed to go to and everybody had this one APO number. And when I came there they stamped mine with a different APO number. I said, "How come?" And it was APO 500 because that was Tokyo. And they said, "Well, you're going to Tokyo because you're in Military Intelligence and Military Intelligence has top priority, and they want you to go to Tokyo." And so when the ship got to Yokohama, sixteen of us got off and went to Tokyo and the rest of them went over to fight in Korea. So I got out of that one very luckily.

TI: And then how long were you then stationed again in Tokyo after?

RY: Well, when I went to Tokyo that time, they were looking for Korean linguists and so they figured they didn't have... there were very few Korean Americans, there were a lot of Niseis but they couldn't find any Korean Americans to do the intelligence work. And so they said, "We need interrogators. So we'll take all the Japanese linguists and send them to school," it was called a conversion class from Japanese to Korean because grammatically Korean and Japanese are exactly the same and you can make a direct translation from one language to the other. But you had to learn the language plus the sentence structures and all that, and so they sent us to school for like fifteen weeks in Japan. And they wanted us to go to... while we were going to school they had the peace conference, the armistice and they signed the armistice and the war ended so I got out of that one too. But they still sent us over there to the peace camp and we were supposed to listen to the Korean, North Koreans talking to the prisoner of war and we're supposed to make sure they wouldn't threaten them and forcing them to return to North Korea. And with the amount of Korean that we learned, we couldn't do that 'cause it was just like I could barely speak Korean. And you had to be born and raised in Korea before somebody's yakking away, you don't know what they're saying. So we went over... I got assigned to an intelligence team but I was still a Japanese linguist, but there wasn't anybody to interrogate so it was good.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: And so and then after that then you went... then what happened, what was next?

RY: Oh, now we're getting into my military career here. Well, I came back to the States and I figured I'd better get into some other field so I signed up for electronic class, communications. And I went... they sent me to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and I became a microwave communication technician. And that was pretty nice but then I got sent down to Georgia, that was our assignment in Fort Gordon, Georgia. Come to find out that that was the only communications, microwave communications unit in the United States army, just a little company. And we were supposed to support the 18th Airborne Corps out of Fort Bragg. And when they went on maneuvers, we went on maneuvers and I did this for like two years and I said, "Forget it, I got to get out here." But you couldn't get out of that field because they would send you back to Georgia. If you got out of the army and you went back to California and reenlisted, you ended up back in Georgia.

TI: Because it was a skill that they really needed?

RY: Yeah, it was a skill that was limited to this one company in the United States army. And so I said, "This is crazy," so I got out of the army.

TI: But you stayed in electronics, you went to Hewlett Packard.

RY: Well, I got out and it's hard to find a job because the military, as technical as they're supposed to be, their knowledge of the field was not that good. Because like Silicon Valley was advancing so fast they had different kind of things so I got a job working for Sylvania first and they... I worked there for almost a year and then I got tired of that so I asked the Air Force recruiter, I said, "Can I join the Air Force with my same rank?" And he said, "Yeah, you could get in the same rank if it's less than a year but you lose your seniority." So I said, okay, so by then I had like thirteen years in the military and the people working at Sylvania were mostly retired people and the said, "You're a fool, you go seven more years and then you can retire with an income." And so that kind of turned me onto the Air Force too. So I joined the Air Force and I was going to finish my seven years in the Air Force. And then my first assignment I had to go overseas so I asked for Japan I asked for Germany and I ended up with Morocco. [Laughs] I ended up with Morocco. I told my wife I'm going to Morocco. She said, "Monaco?" I says, no, Morocco.

TI: Now was your wife traveling with you at this point?

RY: She was able to come with me, she came after. I went first but she came in and she stayed with me in Morocco and the kids too.

TI: And were you still in communications?

RY: Yeah, I was in communications but in the Air Force, different kind of equipment. My wife was very happy in Morocco because the cost of living to them was very cheap, and so I could afford to get her a lady to come in and watch the kids and like a maid, you know. And so she was kind of lady of leisure and she liked that you know.

TI: So, Richard, we're almost at eight o'clock so we've been here for two and half hours.

RY: Oh, my god.

TI: And so I wanted to kind of come to an end. But is there anything else that you want to talk about just to end this interview. Is there anything that we... like a story or something you want to talk about or say?

RY: Well, when I was in Georgia, my son was born in Georgia, my youngest son. And this is sort of a comical thing. He was born in the Catholic hospital and he was the first Japanese baby to be born there. And so I had a Jewish doctor from downtown so my son was born in the Catholic hospital with a Jewish doctor. And when I got the birth certificate, I looked at it and I go, it says, "Father: Caucasian, mother: Caucasian, and baby" Caucasian." So I go, that's not what the army calls me. At that time the army used to call us by race, we were Mongolians. So I go down to the registrar's office and I tell the lady, I said, "I have my son's birth certificate here and I think there's a mistake in it." She says, "What seems to be the problem?" So I said, "Well, you got me and my wife listed as Caucasian and my son Caucasian and we're Orientals." And she says, "Down here you're either black or you're white and y'all ain't black." And so 'til this day my son has his birth certificate which calls him a Caucasian.

TI: Well, he better not run for president or anything or something because people will question then when they look at that. That's funny, that's a good story.

RY: Yeah. That's a good way to end this.

TI: Yeah, no that's a perfect way to end this. So, Richard, thank you. You're a fabulous storyteller.

RY: Well, you're asking me the questions.

TI: Well, it's riveting, your story line and what you went through in your life. Really appreciate it.

RY: Well, there's a lot of things happen in my life.

TI: And yeah, it's a good story so thank you very much.

RY: Oh, my pleasure, I hope this helps you.

TI: No, this is tremendous. I think your family is going to like this.

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