Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Ted Kitayama Interview
Narrator: Ted Kitayama
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: San Jose, California
Date: May 25, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-kted-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So Ted, the way I start this is always kind of the date and where we are, so today is Wednesday, May 25, 2011. We're in San Jose at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, and on camera we have Dana Hoshide, and I'm Tom Ikeda, the interviewer. And so Ted, I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna start. Can you tell me when you were born and where you were born?

TK: I was born on July 27, 1929, on Bainbridge Island, Washington, which is located about seven miles due west of Seattle, Washington.

TI: And when you were born, what was the name given to you at birth?

TK: Sadamu Kitayama.

TI: And where did, where did Ted come in?

TK: What my mother told me is that she said that, I don't know when it was, but she said I didn't like the name Sadamu and I kept on saying "Te-Te" and "Te-Te" became Ted.

TI: Oh, so you gave yourself your own name?

TK: I guess so, yeah. [Laughs] I'm not sure.

TI: Okay, that's good. And let me start with your father, so can you tell me what your father's name was and where he was from?

TK: My father's name is Takeshi Kitayama, and he was, I think he was born in Numazu, Japan, which is in Shizuoka, in eighteen, I'm not sure, 1889 I think.

TI: And what kind of work did his family do, or he did, in Japan? What did he do?

TK: I'm not exactly sure. Someone said he came from a samurai family, and I guess, I guess when the Meiji revolution was, I think he was on, he must've been on the Tokugawa side because I think he was on the losing end, and I think part of the samurai group went north and some of it went south to Shizuoka. And I think his family went south. But what they did in Japan or, I'm not sure because I think we don't have too much history of my father's family, and I think we just lost it.

TI: So do you have any stories about how he ended up in Bainbridge Island? So how did he get to Bainbridge?

TK: I'm not exactly sure. I think he was working in Seattle, and then I think after he married my mother, I think then they moved to Bainbridge and he rented a greenhouse on Bainbridge, I guess. That's where we were.

TI: And so he married your mother in Seattle?

TK: In Seattle.

TI: So tell me a little about your mother first. So what was your mother's name and where was she from?

TK: My mother's name is Masuko, her name was Masuko Hasegawa, and she was born in Yui, Shizuoka in Japan, which is about, I don't know, it's not too far from Numazu. And I think she came, she came to America as a picture bride, but I think the picture and person that she was supposed to marry, I think, didn't match, so I think she was pretty independent so she left. [Laughs] She didn't marry him. And then I think there was a, what do you call it, a baishakunin, and I think they met, my mother and my father were, got together somehow.

TI: And so do you know any of the story? So here, I'm imagining she comes off the ship, she has a picture.

TK: Right.

TI: And then the person who comes to meet her doesn't match the picture.

TK: Something like that, yeah.

TI: And so she says, "No, so I'm not gonna do this."

TK: Yeah.

TI: At that point what happens? Do you know, did she tell any stories about if, was he mad or was there a problem?

TK: She didn't mention anything about this and we just picked it up later on, because when we've seen her passport, she didn't come as a Hasegawa. I think she came as another name.

TI: And why was that? Why, so Hasegawa was...

TK: I think she came with her so-called husband's name.

TI: Oh, I understand. Okay.

TK: Yeah. But I don't have that passport.

TI: Oh, so when someone saw that they wondered, it's a different last name, and then they could kind of figure out, so this must've been the person she was supposed to marry.

TK: Yeah. Yeah, but my mother or father didn't, we didn't speak about it and we never got this information directly from them.

TI: Okay. But the, but it worked out because your father was the same prefecture, or they were pretty, pretty close and so the baishakunin matched them?

TK: Right. Yeah, I think the baishakunin was also from Shizuoka.

TI: How interesting. Yeah, you always hear about those stories, but you rarely come across people who actually lived that, so that's...

TK: [Laughs] Yeah, maybe.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: So they then moved to Bainbridge Island. They have, like a nursery, but before we talk about their work, let's just talk about, how many kids did they have?

TK: I've got, how many kids? They had six children, four boys and two girls.

TI: Okay. Can you just go down the line and just tell me your brothers and sisters?

TK: My oldest brother is Tom. He was born in 1923, I think. And the next one was Ray, and he was born in '24. My sister Yoshiko... wait, there's something I got to add up right. [Laughs] I think she was born in '26. And my brother Kee, he was born in '27, and myself, I was born in '29, and my younger sister, Martha, she was born in '32. So in, I think in nine years there were six kids or something.

TI: Wow, so that's quite a few.

TK: Yeah, quite a few. [Both laugh]

TI: And they're so close together.

TK: Close together, yeah.

TI: So tell me a little bit about the house you lived in. How would six kids and two parents live?

TK: Real close. [Laughs]

TI: So, like, the brothers lived in the same, or had the same bedroom, or did you share a room? How did that work?

TK: Like, we had two, on the property was, it was two homes. One we called our winter home, and that had the boiler in the basement. And we had, I guess, one living room, a kitchen, my parents' bedroom, and we had a, I think a junk room, and then one big bedroom where the six of us, was it six of us in that one bedroom? I'm not sure.

TI: Okay, so you had a winter house --

TK: Winter house.

TI: -- with a boiler.

TK: And a boiler, yeah. And we lived in that winter house because it was, my father had to get up every so often to check on the boiler to see that the fire was burning and everything was working alright, and the boiler was burning heavy oil.

TI: And was the boiler for the...

TK: Heating the greenhouse.

TI: Oh, the greenhouse.

TK: Yeah.

TI: Because otherwise the plants would freeze or be too cold.

TK: It'd have been too cold, yeah.

TI: And so why didn't you guys just stay there year round?

TK: Because the so-called summer house was, I think it was a little bit bigger. Not that much bigger, but it was, the dimensions I don't know, but it was a house with four rooms. We had a kitchen and had, was it three bedrooms? I'm not sure. And then my father added another room to the house, but I think at that time we didn't know where the property lines were, but I think the addition he made was in the adjoining property.

TI: So on your neighbor's property?

TK: Neighbor's property, I think. [Laughs] I'm not sure.

TI: So it sounds like the summer house was a bigger, nicer place to live?

TK: Right.

TI: Then, but then the winter house, you were there because, one, I guess the boiler was there.

TK: The boiler, that's right.

TI: That's kind of interesting. So during the summer what happened to the winter house? Was it used for storage, or what did people do with this, the winter house during the summer?

TK: I think in the, I think in the summer, maybe my two older brothers lived in the winter house because, to make a little bit more room in the summer house for us.

TI: Okay, so it's kind of like the bachelors' quarters. [Laughs]

TK: Bachelors' quarters, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So you mentioned your parents had a nursery.

TK: Right.

TI: The greenhouse. What kind of things did they grow?

TK: In the winter they grew flowers, mainly chrysanthemum, and then for Easter they grew Easter lilies, and I think they grew some bedding plants for the spring. And then in summer we raised some tomatoes and cucumber in the greenhouse.

TI: And when you did this who were the customers? Who did your father sell these things to?

TK: Most of the produce that came out of the greenhouse and the flowers, they were sold to some wholesalers in Seattle. And some of it was sold to our landlord, and he had a grocery store.

TI: Okay. So a grocery store on Bainbridge Island?

TK: On Bainbridge Island, yeah.

TI: Now, when he sold it to the wholesalers in Seattle, how did he get the goods from Bainbridge Island to Seattle?

TK: We had a, he had a truck and he used to go to Seattle maybe once a week or something like that, and he had to go on the ferry.

TI: And was this the wholesalers by the public market, like Western Avenue, around there? Do you know where he went?

TK: I think so, yeah. Around Western Avenue or maybe, I don't know, maybe he sold some at the Pike's Place Market or something like that, to some wholesalers or some distributers or something.

TI: Okay. Now did you ever get to go with your father on these trips?

TK: No, I was too young.

TI: I have in my notes this cute little story about how he would have to time when he would, which ferry he would take.

TK: Oh, like in the wintertime he had to buy the fuel oil in Seattle, and so when the, on the truck that we had he had some portable fuel tanks that when he had to buy fuel we used to roll it onto the truck, and then he'd, when he brought the produce into Seattle to sell, he sold it and then he bought the fuel oil. But after, but when he got the fuel oil on the truck, the truck didn't have that much power, so he couldn't go uphill very much, so he, and then so he had to time the ferry so that the ferry would, I mean he would get on the ferry when it was high tide so that the ramp on the ferry would be almost level.

TI: Yeah, 'cause in the Puget Sound the tides go up and down and...

TK: Go up and down quite a bit, and if it was at low tide, to get off the ferry it would've been a, quite a bit of an incline.

TI: And he wouldn't be able to get off the ferry.

TK: And he probably couldn't get off the ferry unless somebody gave him a push. [Laughs]

TI: Yeah, that's, that's a good story. 'Cause I, as a kid, I remember the ferries, and depending on low or high tide they have those ramps that, yeah, that go up and down just based on the tide.

TK: On the tide.

TI: But I'd never thought of you'd have to time it.

TK: Yeah, time it.

TI: That's good.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: So growing up for you, growing up in Bainbridge Island, I wanted to ask you things like, did, were there, like, Japanese school for the kids?

TK: Yeah, there was Japanese school. I think it was on Saturday, but I didn't go because I was too young.

TI: So, but your older brothers?

TK: I think they went, yeah.

TI: How about other Japanese activities? I mean, were there, like a church that your family went to, or events that were kind of more Japanese community on Bainbridge Island?

TK: Yeah, the, Bainbridge Island is a fairly small island. I think it's about, I don't know, four miles wide and about twelve miles long, and we were living on the southern part of the island. And most of the Japanese, they were strawberry farmers and they lived on the central part of the island or on the northern part, and so we didn't have that much contact with them except, I remember we had an annual picnic that we went to, and then I guess there was a Japanese hall and I guess they had some meetings and they showed Japanese movies and stuff that we used to go to. But then that was about four or five miles away, and for us at that time, that was almost in a different country. [Laughs]

TI: And so, annual picnic, tell me a little bit about that. I mean, what would happen at the annual picnic?

TK: Just about anything regular, I guess. At the picnic we used to bring our lunch, and they used to have these races for kids, and I think the old folks had, I guess they had their beer parties and things like that. I think it was just, it was just an annual get-together.

TI: Now would the picnic be by the beach, or it'd be someplace more inland on a field or something?

TK: It was near the beach, but not that close so that we didn't, there wasn't any water activities, I don't think. But it was at a park.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Now Bainbridge Island is sort of a gorgeous, a gorgeous area in terms of, by the Puget Sound. Did you do a lot with the water? Were there things that were, like, water activities that you did growing up?

TK: You know what? Looking back now, my parents didn't care too much, but almost all summer long we spent time at the beach because it was only, the beach was only about a block away from where we lived. And we used to spend almost every afternoon there, and then about the only time that we were coming home is that, there was, there were some people that were working at the Bremerton shipyard and they had a boat that they used to use for commuting, and then when the boat used to come in around, I think they got off work about five and so their boat came in about six, and whenever we'd see that boat come in that's when we had to go home to, go home to dinner or something like that. [Laughs]

TI: It was sort of like your clock. [Laughs]

TK: It was our clock, yeah.

TI: Interesting. Well, so on the beach in the afternoons, what would, what would you and your friends do?

TK: Just go swimming or, I guess maybe go fishing or we used to make rafts and, I don't know, just, that was about the only thing we could do.

TI: How about things like clamming, or were there oysters, things like that?

TK: Yeah, we used to go clamming, but some of the neighbors that had the beachfront, they didn't like us to go clamming so that most of our clamming was done at night when the, and when the tide was low, and we used to go out there clamming. And every so often we would, they would yell at us or... [laughs] but I don't know. We had a lot of fun.

TI: How about things like nori, the...

TK: Seaweed?

TI: Picking seaweed, did you do any of that?

TK: Yeah, we, there was a place called Crystal Springs, and there was the brown seaweed and we used to pick it, I think it was in the spring. And that's probably, I still remember that seaweed and it's a lot better than any seaweed that we could get today.

TI: Yeah. No, I, I've talked to people and, yeah, they have fond memories of going seaweed picking and then drying it out.

TK: And drying it out, yeah.

TI: And they said it was so, it was so good.

TK: It was so good, yeah.

TI: But they don't do it anymore.

TK: No, they don't, I think it's, I think the water's too polluted or something. Yeah.

TI: But yeah, people talk about that. Anything else, like crabbing? Did you ever do crabbing and things like that, or salmon fishing?

TK: No, we didn't have any boat and so, no, we didn't do any... we did quite a bit of fishing off the pier for perch or rock cod or whatever. And we used to go down to, like at the Port Blakeley ferry dock, and that was about, I don't know, three or four miles away I guess, and we used to walk or ride a bike to go over there and fish. And if we caught some fish, I guess there was an unwritten agreement that we could phone home and they'll come after us. But if you didn't catch any fish we had to walk home, so there was an incentive to catch fish. [Laughs]

TI: 'Cause if you caught fish, that was the dinner or something that night?

TK: Yeah.

TI: There'd be fresh rock cod or something.

TK: Right, yeah. We used to make sashimi out of it.

TI: [Laughs] So the incentive was you had to catch fish, at least one.

TK: You had to catch fish, yeah.

TI: You kept saying "we," so who would you do this with?

TK: Mostly with my siblings, because there wasn't too many other Japanese families in our area. And I don't know if the Caucasians would've liked to go.

TI: Now when you, so you mentioned you were in the south part of the island.

TK: Right.

TI: And today, when I talk to people in Seattle, I've come across some families, white families who were, whose families were quite wealthy, and they had, they talk about having, like summer homes on Bainbridge Island in the south end, and especially by the water and things like that.

TK: Right.

TI: And they have memories of, they talk about their parents who spent the summer on Bainbridge Island. Were there families like that that you were aware of, that kind of lived in Seattle but then during the summer they would have kind of the summer places on Bainbridge Island?

TK: I think so, yeah.

TI: Now did you ever come across any of them?

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

TI: Okay. I was just curious. I just remember talking to some people, that they were actually, I think some of them were even part of, their families, like, partly owned the Port Blakeley sort of area, that mill and stuff like that. So I was just curious.

TK: Right.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Going back now, thinking about school, tell me a little bit about your school and your classmates. Who were your classmates at school?

TK: We went to, we lived about a block and a half away from the grade school, and in that, in our school, it was a four room schoolhouse and I think, I don't know if there was kindergarten or not, I think it was first and second, third and fourth, fifth and sixth... maybe there was a kindergarten, because there was, because I remember in most of the rooms there were two grades and there was one teacher. What else you want to know about the school?

TI: So you mentioned you were in a south part where there weren't as many Japanese, so were there other Japanese classmates or were there mostly white classmates?

TK: There was quite a few Japanese classmates because they came from the, I don't, semi part of the, southern part of the island, and there must've been about a half a dozen or so Japanese classmates in our school.

TI: So half a dozen, but then the rest were, were...

TK: Were Caucasians, yeah.

TI: Okay. Now, growing up, did you have kind of like good friends in school that you would do things with, like maybe right after school or during recess you would play with?

TK: Yeah, we would play with them during recess, but after school I don't think we, I didn't anyway, have much contact with our Caucasian friends. One reason, I guess, is some of 'em lived further away and I was fairly young yet, but I think my older siblings had quite a bit of contact with their Caucasian friends.

TI: Now, on Bainbridge Island for elementary school, was there like a school bus that people had to take to, when they lived pretty far away from the school?

TK: Right.

TI: So they would take the bus home?

TK: They would take the bus home, right.

TI: Whereas you were close. You just walked.

TK: We walked, yeah.

TI: Now did, when you went home, did you have certain chores that you had to do as a kid?

TK: As a kid, yeah, I think. Because my parents were probably working most of the time, and then I think my sister had to do most of the cooking for dinner and I think my sister used to make us do some of the grunt work for her, get the dinner ready.

TI: So like chopping vegetables or washing things?

TK: Washing things or go in the garden to go and pick it and maybe stoke the fire and that kind of things.

TI: Because while she was, while the kids were making dinner, what were your parents doing?

TK: They were probably working the greenhouse or, or we used to have a garden outside and in the summer we used to grow vegetables out there, and we used to sell it at the local grocery store.

TI: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: There's another note I have to ask you, did you guys ever go mushroom picking, matsutake?

TK: Yeah, there were some, in a certain part of the island I guess there was some matsutake, and we used to go, we used to try to go and find it in the fall.

TI: So on the island?

TK: On the island, yeah.

TI: So what, was it kind of more south or north, or what part of the island? I'm curious.

TK: It was walking distance, so it couldn't have been too far away from where we lived, because the island at that time was, if it wasn't for the strawberry farms or the residents, the rest of it was all in trees, forest. Because I think at one time Bainbridge Island had a big sawmill, and so I think that there were, a lot of the trees at that time -- I mean when I was there it was, I think it was the second growth, but there was quite a few pine trees and things like that.

TI: Yeah, 'cause I, growing up as a kid, we'd always go mushroom picking, but we'd always, it seemed like we would not do Bainbridge Island. We would do either the Cascades or Mount Rainier, sometimes Port Townsend.

TK: Yeah, up in Olympic Peninsula, because I remember -- this was after the war -- when we were living in California they told us the mushroom picking was good up there, so I think me and my brother, we went up there and they took us up to the Olympic Peninsula, up toward Port Townsend, and I remember that we had, they had two cars and I think we filled the trunk full of matsutake. I still don't know what they did with it. [Laughs]

TI: Well I remember, yeah, as a kid, just boxes of...

TK: Boxes.

TI: And the trunk, yeah, would just be filled with them. And the smell of the...

TK: Yeah, it's real good.

TI: And then we would, what our family would do a lot of times is send it to Japan, the really good ones they'd send to Japan and to maybe friends in California. And then the ones that were not as good we would have to keep. [Laughs]

TK: Those are the ones you ate. [Laughs]

TI: So that's the ones we got. You mentioned earlier that when you're on the beach one of the things you use as a clock was when this boat came back from Bremerton.

TK: Right.

TI: From the south part of the island on the beach, could you see the Bremerton shipyard and things like that?

TK: No.

TI: Okay. But did you ever see, like navy ships going by?

TK: Yeah, we'd just see navy ships going by, and there was a real narrow, the passage between Bainbridge and the mainland, where the ships had to pass to go to Bremerton.

TI: And did you guys like to go down there just to look at the ships?

TK: Look at the ships as they went by, yeah?

TI: Now, were there some really big ones? I'm trying to think, did they have, like battleships or destroyers?

TK: I think they did, yeah.

TI: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: So I'm gonna kind of now move, now any other childhood memories that you want to talk about? 'Cause I was gonna start moving into the war, but I was trying to think of anything else, 'cause you didn't, you mentioned you didn't really go to Seattle very often. Any memories of Seattle?

TK: About the only time we went to Seattle was, to go to Seattle for me anyway, if I went once or twice a year that was a lot, and once we used to go in the fall, right before school started, was to buy our school clothes and things like that. And I remember that we used to go to a Chinese restaurant for dinner or lunch, and that was a real big treat because on the island I don't ever remember going, eating in a restaurant.

TI: And so do you remember where, for your clothes, what store you would go to?

TK: Most of the time it was probably J.C. Penny's or Sears, I think. I'm not exactly sure.

TI: So kind of in the downtown area.

TK: Downtown area, yeah.

TI: And then Chinese restaurant, do you know where that would be? Would that be down in the Chinatown area or International District?

TK: That'll be probably in the present, yeah, International District, by Jackson Street and in that area.

TI: It's interesting the family ate Chinese food and not Japanese food because Nihonmachi was right there also.

TK: I think most of the time it was Chinese food, as far as I could remember. I think it was cheaper. [Laughs]

TI: But that was a big treat to go.

TK: That was a big treat. Yeah.

TI: And what were your impressions of Seattle when you would come in from Bainbridge Island and you saw the city? What was that like for you?

TK: I don't know. It was just a city.

TI: Was it kind of exciting, fun to go to?

TK: It was fun to go to because it was real different from Bainbridge because at that time Bainbridge was real rural and there wasn't very many, even very many buildings or anything. When you go to Seattle we used to see the Smith Tower and think, hey, that's a real big building.

TI: Yeah, that's good.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: So now I want to go to December 7, 1941, that Sunday. Do you remember that day and how you heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

TK: I didn't think too much of it, but I'm not sure if we heard it on the radio or what, but yeah, on Sunday morning I remember hearing about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but I didn't think it would affect us at all, so it didn't...

TI: So you didn't think too much about it?

TK: I didn't think too much about it.

TI: How about the fact that it was Japanese that bombed Pearl Harbor? Did you think, oh, there might be some trouble or anything like that?

TK: At that time, no, I didn't think so.

TI: And how about your family, your parents or your older brothers or older sister? I mean, did they have any comments or thoughts about what happened?

TK: I don't recall, because at that time Tom was in Pullman going to college and I think Ray was a senior. But I didn't think too much of it, and then when we went to school the following day I don't remember if there was that much reaction or anything.

TI: So it was almost like it was so far away that there was no...

TK: Nothing was that much different as far as I was concerned.

TI: Now, on Bainbridge Island, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the officials started picking up some people on Bainbridge Island, the FBI.

TK: Correct.

TI: Were you aware of that when that was happening?

TK: Yes, I heard that, I heard about that, that certain people were being picked up.

TI: How did you hear about it? Where did you hear?

TK: Maybe from my parents or, I don't know.

TI: Now, was your father or mother ever concerned that maybe your father might be picked up or anything like that?

TK: I don't, it didn't occur to me, no.

TI: Okay. Yeah, they picked up a few, I'm not sure how many exactly, but generally they were community leaders.

TK: On Bainbridge? Yeah, community leaders or church people.

TI: What's interesting, and you probably didn't even, as a kid, realize this, but Bainbridge Island was the very first community under Executive Order 9066 to be removed from their homes.

TK: Right.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So because after Bainbridge Island happened, I think the other communities on the West Coast kind of knew that this was gonna happen.

TK: Knew what was gonna happen, yeah.

TI: But you were the first, so I'm just curious, how did it, from your perspective, how did it kind of play out, or how did that happen? How did you find out and what was the reaction, since you guys were the first ones?

TK: I'm not exactly sure when I came to this conclusion, but I still think that why they picked Bainbridge is that I think the government wanted to do a trial run to see if there's gonna be very much resistance or not, and I think, like Bainbridge was a real good place to start because it was a limited amount of people on a limited space, and they could find out if there was gonna be much resistance or not. And I guess that, I guess the Bainbridge people were, they were so timid that they were led like sheep, and I don't think we put up any kind of fuss at all.

TI: When I look at the pictures, there's quite a bit of security for this first one.

TK: Right.

TI: But when I look at the history books or some of the books about this, Bainbridge Island was, was, I guess the U.S. government officials were concerned because there were a couple things. One was the proximity to the naval shipyard.

TK: Right.

TI: If you're concerned about, like spying or sabotage, that would be one reason. The other one was there was a top secret listening post.

TK: Out on Bainbridge, yeah.

TI: And I think that was the one, other one that they were concerned about, so that's, that was what I've read in terms of some of the government documents why they picked Bainbridge.

TK: Yeah, I read that also.

TI: But for you, how did you and your family find out that you had to leave Bainbridge?

TK: Because I guess in early or mid February, after EO 9066 was signed, we heard about the evacuation that might happen, but what we thought in the beginning is that maybe they were gonna only pick up the first generations, Isseis. And we were wondering what we should do. I'm not sure when we found out that they were gonna pick up everyone.

TI: And when your family found out that everyone was gonna get picked up, what did you do with the property, the houses, the nursery, the crops? What happened next?

TK: As far as the property goes, it was leased, so we didn't have any ownership there, and as far as our, what we had in the greenhouse and things, I think we just left it. I don't, I'm not sure if anybody took it over or anything.

TI: So essentially you picked up your personal belongings and kind of walked away from the place?

TK: Yeah, I guess so. Yeah. I'm not sure if my parents, I'm not sure what happened to our, we had a couple vehicles and that was probably the only thing that was worth probably anything, except maybe we had the crops and the greenhouse, and I don't, I still don't know what happened to our, what happened to the personal property we had. Some of it I know that we had, we stored it with our landlord.

TI: Now do you remember, those last days, what school was like for you? I mean, did you, did you have to say goodbye to people or anything like that happen at school?

TK: Yeah. One thing I think was probably a little different from some other location is that when we were gonna get on the ferry there was quite a few of the Caucasian friends that came to see us off.

TI: And were there some people that you knew that came to see you guys off? Like friends of the family or friends from school or anything like that?

TK: I know our landlord was there. I think some of our friends were there. I'm pretty sure that some of my older siblings, some of the students had skipped class to come to see them off.

TI: Yeah, because you mentioned your older brother Ray was a senior in high school.

TK: Yeah.

TI: And so he probably had grown up and gone to school with some of those people since kindergarten all the way to high school.

TK: Right.

TI: And so I'm guessing some of, he had some friends there.

TK: Right.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Anything memorable about that, kind of that day when you were at the ferry dock and leaving the island? Anything that stands out? So you mentioned a lot of Caucasian people to see you off.

TK: Right.

TI: What else? Anything about, like the soldiers, anything about the soldiers you can remember?

TK: I know that some of the soldiers must have felt sorry for us because they were, I think that they were pretty helpful in making the evacuation as easy as possible, if you want to put it that way. But again, they had their duties, what they had to do.

TI: So when you say they tried to make it as easy as possible, what would be an example of them making it easy?

TK: I think some of it was carrying the luggage of the older people, stuff like that.

TI: And how about their kind of demeanor? I mean, were they stern or, or how would you describe them?

TK: I guess they were stern, but from my understanding they were, there was even some that were, I don't know what you call it, trying to be friendly with some of the girls. [Laughs]

TI: There is, I guess with Seattle P-I, took lots of pictures and some of them were, I guess as you were walking down, the dock. Have you seen those pictures, those pictures of the, can you find you in those pictures as people are walking down the dock? I was wondering if you were in those pictures.

TK: No, I haven't seen that many pictures of the group, but when I was at Manzanar there was one picture of a group going to the train. My sister was able to recognize some of the people in that picture, but I couldn't recognize them.

TI: Okay. So you walk down the dock to go to the ferry.

TK: Right.

TI: And you're on the ferry. What was the mood of the Japanese on the ferry as you would go to Seattle? Any conversations or discussions about what was, what was happening?

TK: You know, my, that part of my memory is blank.

TI: So how about when you get to Seattle? Describe what happens once you get to Seattle.

TK: After we got to Seattle we were, they had the train parked on the, I guess on Alaskan Way, and we were herded on that train.

TI: So directly from the ferry you would walk to the train?

TK: The train, yeah.

TI: So again, I've seen pictures of this, and as you're walking to the train there were quite a few people in Seattle --

TK: That were watching, yeah.

TI: -- who were watching. I mean, there's one, there's this, I think it's like a pedestrian overpass and you just see, oh, maybe a hundred people.

TK: Watching there, yeah.

TI: Do you remember that, people watching?

TK: No, I don't remember that.

TI: Okay, but you've seen some of these pictures.

TK: I've seen the pictures, right.

TI: But you weren't aware of that when you were going from the ferry to the...

TK: No, no.

TI: Okay. And tell me what you were carrying. How much did you have to carry from the ferry to the train?

TK: [Laughs] As far as the, far as our luggage goes, I'm not exactly sure how our luggage got from the ferry to the train, because looking at those photos I don't see people carrying any luggage.

TI: So maybe somehow they, the luggage, once they got it on the ferry someone moved onto the train.

TK: Onto the train.

TI: That would make sense.

TK: Because, and even at the other end, I don't remember carrying the luggage off the train onto the bus.

TI: So maybe a lot of that was once it was in transit they would just move it as a group.

TK: As a group, yeah.

TI: And then just, when you got to Manzanar they just had a big pile of it, right? You had to --

TK: You had to identify your own, yeah.

TI: That would make sense.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Okay Ted, so we're gonna get started. We left off when you had just left Bainbridge Island on the ferry and then had gone to the train, so let's pick it up there. Any, so tell me about the train ride from Seattle down to California. What was that like?

TK: It was one of the most comfortable train rides I've ever been on. And at that time I thought it was a good adventure because that was something completely new, and we had all the fine services with a dinner in the dining cars with tablecloth, and we had the black porters serving us with, I guess it must've been the regular Pullman food.

TI: So on this train, were the Bainbridge Island, the Japanese Americans from Bainbridge Island, were you the only ones on the train or were there other passengers also?

TK: I'm almost sure that we were the only ones on the train.

TI: Okay, but it was just like, it sounded like just a regular train, regular service with a dining car, dining service.

TK: Everything, yeah. I'm almost sure it was just a regular Pullman train that was chartered by the government.

TI: With perhaps the only difference being you had guards.

TK: We had guards, and then every time that we came to a city we had to pull the shades. And then every time another train wanted to go by we had to sit on the side and wait for it, so that's why it took us two days to get to Manzanar, which at that time, I guess, it didn't matter.

TI: So tell me about the, first the guards. What kind of treatment did you get from the guards? Were they the same guards that picked you up at Bainbridge Island, or were these different guards?

TK: I'm not sure because a soldier in uniform's a soldier in uniform. I think they were the same ones, but I'm not sure.

TI: And so maybe an example is, so when you approached a town and you had to pull the blinds down, how did they do that? Who told you to do that and how did they do it?

TK: I think the soldiers must've came through and told us to pull the shades, and I think the soldiers were walking up and down the aisles anyway, I think, but I don't remember.

TI: And were the soldiers stern or were they nice, or how would you describe the soldiers?

TK: I would describe the soldiers as being pretty courteous, and they were mostly fairly young and I think that most of 'em were from the, I guess they were from the East Coast, so they didn't know too much about us and they didn't have any opinion.

TI: So talk about the dining car. You mentioned the, before we started, just the food was really good, so say it's dinner time, what would you do? I mean, where would you go and how were you served?

TK: I don't remember the details, but I'm pretty sure that we were served like a regular dinner, and we had the main meal and then they'd bring us our drinks, and then after that we'd get dessert.

TI: But they had the use of tablecloths.

TK: Tablecloth, yeah. I remember that.

TI: And silverware and all that?

TK: Silverware, yeah.

TI: Cloth napkins?

TK: Cloth napkins, yeah.

TI: So it was kind of like, given your background, going to a Chinese restaurant in the International District was like a big treat, this was like to a fine restaurant for you.

TK: Yeah. And then at night they had the bunks so that we could, I think I slept on the upper bunk, but we had a place to sleep and with all the, with more than the comforts of home.

TI: And going back to the dinner, what were they, do you remember what you ate?

TK: No, I don't.

TI: But it was, but you just mentioned it was really good.

TK: Yeah.

TI: And then you had, so you had, like the Pullman, the sleeper car that you could sleep in.

TK: Sleeper car, right.

TI: So for you this was kind of like an adventure. You were, how old, eleven years old?

TK: Eleven, yeah.

TI: Eleven years old, and so this was kind of --

TK: It was an adventure, yeah.

TI: And were there other boys your age that you could explore the car, the train with?

TK: I don't remember. I'm sure that there were, but I don't remember walking around the train that much.

TI: Now was this the first time you had been away from the Bainbridge Island, Seattle area, or had you traveled before outside the area?

TK: I think I traveled once by train to, from Seattle to Tacoma, but I don't remember that trip.

TI: Okay, so now as you start leaving the Northwest, which tends to be more mild and lots of moisture, and you're now going down to California, southern Oregon and California, what did you think? What did you notice as things got, probably, drier and different?

TK: Riding on the train I don't think I noticed anything different.

TI: Okay. So any other stories about the train that you remember?

TK: Only thing is, I guess like an eleven year old kid, when it was April 1st I thought somebody was gonna say, "April fool, and you go back." [Laughs] But I don't think, that never happened.

TI: So you thought, you thought you'd say it, did you say it?

TK: No, no.

TI: You just thought that.

TK: I just thought that, yeah.

TI: That it'd be kind of an April Fool's joke.

TK: April Fool's joke, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So now let's get to the end of the train ride, so you're, the train ride ends, and what happens next? Where are you, and what was it like?

TK: I think the train ride ended in Barstow, California, and from there we boarded a bus and had about a two hour ride in the hot sun to Manzanar.

TI: And then when you got to Manzanar, what were your impressions of Manzanar?

TK: It sure was different from the train ride. [Laughs]

TI: How so? Why was it different? Why was it different?

TK: It was a fairly desolate place, and the, I don't, I'm not sure if they, what kind of process we had to go through, but the first thing I remember is that they, is that they gave us some, I don't know what you call it, a mattress bag, I guess, and they told us there's some straw in the field. Go up there and fill it, and that's your mattress. And that's the first thing I remember of Manzanar, except that when you got in the barracks there were cracks in the floor, and then when the wind blew all the sand blew up into the room.

TI: As a family unit -- I know your oldest brother was away from college --

TK: Right.

TI: Were the rest of the kids going down to the Manzanar? Were there, like, five?

TK: Five, yeah.

TI: Five kids. And so how large a room did, or rooms, did you have one room or two rooms for your family?

TK: I think we had one room, but I think the barracks were, I'm not exactly sure, I think some of the barracks were divided into four units of bigger rooms, and I think there were some barracks were divided into six rooms with smaller rooms. And we had one of the bigger units.

TI: Now you were the first, I believe the first group at Manzanar, so when you got there who else was there? I mean, were there still workers building the camp? Or what, describe what you saw when you got there.

TK: When I got there I think that they were building either Block 5 or Block 6, when we got there, but I think Block, I think at that time Block 1 was the administration area, and I think Block 2 was, they had a bachelor's quarter, and I think there were some bachelors already there, and we were in Block 3. And there was construction going on and pretty much the camp wasn't even built when we got there.

TI: So when you first got there what instructions did they give the group, or you, in terms of what you could and could not do when you got there?

TK: Well, if they gave any instruction I never got any directly that I remember.

TI: Well things like, even the meal schedule, did they talk about that in terms of when the meals were gonna be and how you did that?

TK: I'm not exactly sure. All I know is that they, for meals I think they banged on a frying pan or something and they, and that was to come to the mess hall to eat.

TI: And what are your memories of the food that, especially in those first days? What was that like?

TK: I don't remember the first, the food we had, but... I'm not even sure what kind of serving utensils we had. I think it was the GI aluminum pans, but I'm not sure.

TI: How long were you there before other groups of Japanese started arriving at Manzanar? Do you remember how long, like, you guys had the camp to yourselves and then pretty soon more people started coming?

TK: I think there were other people coming almost right after we did.

TI: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: And as groups came in, were you curious about them? Or what did you do, now that you're at Manzanar, what do you do during the days, these early days? What do you do?

TK: I don't remember. I don't have any, I don't have that much recollection of what we did.

TI: How about things like going and watching people, the workers building the barracks or building other things and you kind of walk around the different parts of the camp?

TK: No, I don't remember what I... what they tell me later, but I don't think you want to hear that here.

TI: How about, so Bainbridge Island was the only community from Washington state that went to Manzanar.

TK: Right.

TI: The rest of them were primarily from California?

TK: Correct.

TI: From places like Los Angeles. And when you started meeting Japanese from different parts of the country, how was that? I mean, what did you, what did you experience or see when you met the California Japanese?

TK: At my age I don't think I thought they were that much different.

TI: So they seemed pretty much the same?

TK: Pretty much the same, yeah.

TI: And so did you start getting to know some boys your age that you would start playing around with, or would you stay with your brothers? I was trying to figure out what you would do?

TK: I think that we were, I stuck mostly with the Bainbridge group. And I don't think I left the block very often.

TI: Now did the adults, the Bainbridge Island adults, like your parents or other adults, ever talk about the Californians in terms of, like, "Ted, be careful," or, "Maybe you should stay on the block," or, "Don't play with the boys from Los Angeles," or was there any of that kind of talk?

TK: I don't think so. I don't remember if there was any like that.

TI: So when, eventually, when school got started, it sounds like then you would mix more, I guess, with the other groups? Is that when that happened?

TK: I think so, but again, I don't, I'm not, we got there in March and if my memory works me right I think that some of the teachers from Bainbridge sent down a lesson plan for us to complete, and I think that's how we finished our grade in '42.

TI: Interesting. So it's like the Bainbridge Islanders had their own kind of little mini school then, that you had your lessons come down and you guys could...

TK: I think so, yeah. Right

TI: And would just do it, like in the mess hall?

TK: I think something like that, yeah.

TI: Something like that, but you would do that. So it sounds like the Bainbridge Islanders had a little more structure than maybe the other parts.

TK: I think so, yeah.

TI: 'Cause I think, yeah, I haven't heard that before. A lot of times you hear that they really didn't start school 'til the fall because the spring and summer was kind of in turmoil.

TK: It was in turmoil, yeah. But I still think the, even the instructors and everything on Bainbridge were a little bit more understanding than in other parts of the...

TI: So you finished your schooling for, so what grade were you in? You were about fifth grade or sixth grade?

TK: What is... sixth or seventh I think.

TI: So you had to do homework and school work to finish all that.

TK: Yeah, I think so. Yeah.

TI: Do you recall when you started school at Manzanar, what was that like then? 'Cause here you had kind of a more structured, you had lesson plans and you could do that, was that the same when you started the Manzanar school?

TK: I don't, as far as Manzanar School, I don't remember. I think it started in September, but I don't recall.

TI: How about things like the, there was a disturbance at Manzanar, people have called it the "Manzanar Riot."

TK: Right.

TI: Do you remember that, when that happened?

TK: I remember when it happened, but we were only about two blocks away from where it, most of the action took place. But my father told me, "Don't go down there and stay away," so I think I was able to hear the gunshots, but that's about all I remember.

TI: And what did you think when you heard gunshots and all this was going on?

TK: It was just some of the California people uprising, and I didn't know anything else about it.

TI: Now, after the shots, did you see people running away from that area?

TK: No.

TI: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

TK: Lot of it was toward evening and it was, I think it was dark, but I don't think I even went outside, so I don't know.

TI: Kind of shortly after that, within a couple months or so, a group of people from Bainbridge Island went from Manzanar to Minidoka.

TK: Correct.

TI: And do you remember, were there discussions about making that move or whether they should go to Minidoka or not? I mean, I'm trying to understand why the Bainbridge Islanders left Manzanar to go to Minidoka.

TK: I'm not exactly sure, but I still think the government treated the Bainbridge people a little bit different, and they gave us a choice of going because I think that there was a block empty in Minidoka. And I don't know if Manzanar was getting crowded or not, but, and I think that they said, "If you want to be closer to your people, we'll give you the opportunity to go." And I think that most of the Bainbridge people went to Minidoka.

TI: Okay. And so when you went to Minidoka, what was that like? Did it seem, so you're going, yeah, in terms of how was Minidoka different than Manzanar?

TK: To me, Minidoka and Manzanar was, I don't think it made that much difference to me, but except Minidoka was a little bit colder and a little bit wetter, but besides that, and in Minidoka we were at the very end of the camp, and like in Manzanar we were more toward right in the center of everything. But besides that I don't think there was any, that much difference.

TI: So how about differences in terms of the people? So Manzanar was mostly Californians.

TK: Right.

TI: Minidoka was more Seattle, Portland.

TK: Right.

TI: And so was there a different feeling from the two camps because it was two different groups?

TK: As far as I was concerned, I don't think there was much difference, but from, later I heard that the Bainbridge people must, some of the stuff from California must have rubbed off on some of the Bainbridge people because when they went to Minidoka I think the Bainbridge people were a little bit rougher than the people from up north. [Laughs]

TI: Interesting.

TK: But I'm not sure.

TI: And so would that have been, like some of the older teenage boys or something like that?

TK: I think so, yeah.

TI: But you weren't, you weren't in that group. [Laughs]

TK: I don't think so.

TI: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So when you were at Minidoka did you have any jobs, when you were there?

TK: Like in Minidoka, what happened is that they started school early, and then for the harvest season, which is about October, we had about a one month break and many of us went out to work as farm laborers, harvesting crops. And I remember when I was in, I must've been what, fourteen or fifteen? With a group from Bainbridge we went to a farm in, I think, Blackfoot, Idaho, to pick potatoes, and that was, we made pretty good money, but it sure was hard work. And I remember that we didn't have any running water and we had to brush our teeth outside in the cold, and in October in northern part of Idaho it gets pretty cold, and I remember that once a week the farmers used to take us to town so that at least we could take a bath. [Laughs]

TI: Wow. So that was a kind of different experience for you.

TK: Different experience. We were, and I think we were there picking potatoes for about three weeks or something, and I don't know how much money we made, but it was a lot more than sixteen dollars a month working in camp.

TI: Now do you recall how many went with you? Was it like a small crew, or how many people were there?

TK: At this farm I think it was about four or five of us that went.

TI: Were these others that you knew pretty well?

TK: Yeah.

TI: Like your brother, was your brother?

TK: I think my brother was one of 'em and the rest were from, I think we were all from Bainbridge, so we just about knew each other fairly well.

TI: So this for you, were you one of the younger ones then, probably?

TK: I was probably one of the younger ones, yeah.

TI: So it's kind of an adventure for you, but hard work, you said.

TK: Yeah.

TI: Okay. How about your parents? What, at Minidoka, what kind of things did they do at Minidoka?

TK: My, I think my mother worked in the kitchen, and my father, he had a stroke in '38, but I guess it wasn't that bad because he was able to work, and then I think he had a job at Minidoka as a boilerman. And in Minidoka I think the boilers were fueled with coal, so he had to shovel the coal into the boiler and then take the ashes out.

TI: But he was able physically to --

TK: Physically do that, yeah. But on top of that, I think my mother must've sneaked some rice out, and he used to make sake in the boiler room. [Laughs] Because he had a bunch of cronies with him.

TI: The other thing that I've heard in a boiler room that happens, because of the boiler and the building to do heat, they could, like, forge steel and things. Did you ever hear stories about that, where they would make things from metal because of the boiler?

TK: No, I haven't heard that one.

TI: Okay. I was curious if you'd heard anything. But they made rice wine, sake.

TK: [Laughs] Yeah. And I think they made natto with soybeans or something.

TI: All the smelly stuff. [Laughs]

TK: All the good things.

TI: And how was school for you at Minidoka?

TK: All I know is that I think some of the Caucasian teachers were a little bit better, but the Japanese teachers we had, I don't think they had disciplined that well, so I don't know how much I learned there. But I went to school, I think. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: And so any adventures when you were at Minidoka, in terms of, like experiences outside of camp, anything like that that you can remember?

TK: Like in the summertime, there was a canal, irrigation canal that was fairly good size running along camp, I don't know if that was in or out of the camp area, but all I remember is that we spent quite a bit of time down there. And then we used to swim across the canal, and I think that was probably outside the camp area anyway, but we didn't do much. But then later there was a small a town, Eden, which was, I don't know, maybe four or five miles out of camp, and we used to walk there and walk into town to buy a few items and stuff and then walk back to camp, because starting about '43 or '44 I don't think the security was very tight, anyway, in the camps anymore.

TI: So it was pretty easy just to walk, walk out.

TK: Yeah, walk out. And then the, I guess the people in town, they didn't seem to care too much.

TI: How about Twin Falls? Did you ever go to Twin Falls?

TK: We, I still don't know how it is, but one of the farmers from Bainbridge, he was able to get his truck and he used to bring it into camp somehow -- I don't know how -- and there was times that if you wanted to go to Twin Falls he would take us almost to the front gate, and he kept the guards busy and we'd just sneak around, and then he would pick us up outside the gate and then went to town. And I don't know what we did, but then we'd sneak back in the same way and he'd let us out before the gate and then he'd come to the gate and he would keep the guards busy, and we used to sneak in and get back on the truck and ride back to our barracks, which was, since we were at the end of the camp and Hunt was, Minidoka was, it wasn't a square camp like Manzanar. It was skinny and long, so we had a long ways to go from the main gate to the, where we lived.

TI: So having a truck was helpful because it was, to go all the way down.

TK: It helped, yeah.

TI: So no free bus service. [Laughs]

TK: We didn't have Seattle buses, free bus. [Laughs]

TI: But so when you did go to Twin Falls, what would you do in Twin Falls? So this was a bigger town.

TK: Bigger town. I don't remember what we did in town. We didn't do much, I don't think, maybe some shopping or, mainly probably just window shopping more than anything else because I don't think we had that much money, anyway.

TI: Just to get out, walk around.

TK: Get out, yeah.

TI: Look around, come back. Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: So eventually the war comes to an end.

TK: Right.

TI: And they start talking about closing the camps, so what did your family do when Minidoka started closing down? Where did you go and what happened next?

TK: See, as far as my parents were concerned, by that time I think my, Ray had left. He graduated in '42, and I think he left camp then and he went to school for a couple years, I guess, and then he was working in, I don't know, Indiana or some place. And my, and Kee was in Spokane, and my sister had graduated and she left also, so that, the only one left was my parents and myself and my younger sister.

TI: So the two babies of the family were, the two youngest in the family were left.

TK: And as far as my dad was concerned, he was going to stay there until the camp closed, except that then getting near September and October in '45 they didn't have any more schools in camp, and then my father realized that, hey, you two kids got to go to school. So I guess at that time we decided to leave, and we went back to Seattle.

TI: Now your father was willing to stay 'til the very end. Was there kind of a fear or concern about going back outside? I mean, why was he hesitating to leave the camp?

TK: Because he was physically unable to hold a job, and then my mother, she didn't have, I don't know if you call it skills, and so, and he said what's the use of leaving, I guess. I don't know.

TI: That makes sense. So you were one of the last people, last families to leave. I'm curious, when, what was Minidoka like when most of the people are gone? What did it seem like to you?

TK: It was, by the time we left it was pretty desolate, and most of the blocks were getting fairly empty. Even to pick up our belongings, they had outside contractors come in, and so we just, by that time I think the government was fairly lenient and they let us have more things to, more bags to take out, and I think they paid for the passage.

TI: And I'm curious, you said it was pretty desolate, not too many people there, what was the condition? I mean, what kind of things did people leave behind? When you would, like, look at an empty barrack a family left, did they leave things behind?

TK: I don't remember walking in too many empty barracks, but I think most of 'em left some of their homemade furniture and things like that, but I don't think they left too much behind as far as other personal belongings.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: So Ted, we're back and we're just talking about leaving Minidoka and how you were one of the last families to leave. So going back to Northwest, where did you go after Minidoka?

TK: We went to Seattle, and the government gave us a train ticket and twenty-five dollars each, and that didn't last very long.

TI: And where did you stay that first night, or where did you live?

TK: Where did we go? I don't remember. All I remember is that we ended up in the Renton, I don't know, federal housing, and I think we stayed there until end of the school year. And since my father wasn't able to work my mother was doing domestic, and she was working at different places every day. And then she finally got a job at a doctor's home, and then the doctor had a summer home on Whidbey Island and they asked if we wanted to help, go to, because they had a second home there, and they asked us if we want to go there and then to more or less watch that summer home and my mother could go back and forth and do, work in Seattle and go back and forth. And so we went there.

TI: So it sounds like this doctor's family really helped out by letting you live at their summer home?

TK: At the summer home, except one thing wrong is that I think after we got there, I think my mother could take quite a bit, but I think the doctor's wife was a little bit too rough on her and she had a rough time, but she stayed on the job until the end of the school year. And then we moved back to Seattle.

TI: Okay, so yeah, it sounds like she had to work too hard for this.

TK: She had to work, yeah.

TI: So then you returned to Seattle, and then what, so then you continued school in Seattle?

TK: Yeah, and I spent my senior year at Garfield High School and I graduated there.

TI: Now how was it for you, because you had to keep moving from school to school to school? I mean, how was that for you?

TK: All I know is that for some of the things that you were, that we were supposed to learn in one grade, I guess I missed it out, and I don't know how, but I still don't know how I graduated, but I did.

TI: So it was almost like, just seemed like your education really would suffer by all the things.

TK: Yeah, 'cause I think I spent, in my high school years I think was in four high schools, so I didn't get too much of a good education at that time.

TI: And not just education, but probably friendships. I mean, by moving around you don't really get a chance to...

TK: Yeah, I didn't make that much school friendship either. Yeah, you're right.

TI: So after you graduate from Garfield, what do you do next?

TK: After I graduated from Garfield, by that time my, one of my older brothers, he studied horticulture and he asked his professor in Ohio State where was a good place to start a greenhouse, and then he said one of his students, Shimi Shibata, had a nursery in California at Mount Eden. And he said, "Why don't you contact him and he may give you a job." So he wrote to him and Shimi said, "Yeah, come on down, I'll give you a job." And so he went and got a job, and then after I graduated from high school in '47 Shimi also gave me a job, so I went down and joined them at Mount Eden Nursery.

TI: And it sounds like you did that for a couple years or so, and then...

TK: I did that for a couple years, and then by that time, Tom had married in '45 and he also came down to California and was working at another nursery. And then I think in '48 there was a Nisei nurseryman, he had a, he was running a small greenhouse in San Leandro, and he died somehow and then his greenhouse was up for sale, so we were able to buy that greenhouse and from there we got into the greenhouse business in California.

TI: And when you came down here, did your, your parents came with you?

TK: My father passed away in '47, and then, I think in '48, after we had rented the greenhouse, my mother and my younger sister came down and they joined us in California.

TI: Now, tell me a little bit about your mother. What was she like? I mean, it sounds like she had to work really hard in her life, after the war, supporting the family as a domestic help.

TK: Right.

TI: But what kind of woman was she, what kind of personality? How would you describe your mother?

TK: I think she was, maybe like most Issei women, she was really hardworking and she kept the family, I think she kept the family together. I don't know what else. She lived to be ninety, and by that time she was able to see many of her children succeed and she had quite a few grandchildren that she really enjoyed.

TI: And then your father, tell me a little bit about your father. How would you describe your father?

TK: In a way my father was, I don't know, he... I know one comment he made is, he used to enjoy life and he used to like his liquor, and he smoked and he said, "You know, I guess I'm setting a bad example because I hope my kids won't follow what I did." And in a way I guess it was true, because I don't think, none of us siblings smoked and I don't think none of 'em even drank very much, or if they drank at all. But for the next generation it was a little different. [Laughs]

TI: Okay, good.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: So Ted, anything else you want to talk about in this interview? I've gone through my questions and my notes and wanted to know if there's anything else that I'm kind of leaving out that you wanted to talk about for the interview?

TK: All I know is when we came down to California we didn't expect to see what everything happened at the end. We, I guess after Kee came back out of the service and we had a successful nursery operation, and Tom in '59, when Union City was, became a city, he said he wanted to try to be one of the councilmen. And my mother discouraged him because she said, "You might bring disgrace to the family," or something, but when he found out that he had won the council seat, one other comment my mother made was, she was saying, "This could only happen in America."

TI: Yeah, when you think about what happened to Japanese during the war.

TK: The war, yeah, and this was in '59, so it wasn't too much after the war. And then, since he was, since he got his, I guess the most votes, he was elected to be the first mayor of Union City.

TI: Oh, that's a good story. And when he was doing public service like that, was he also helping out with the nursery?

TK: Yes, he was.

TI: So he was able to do both.

TK: Yeah. Union City is still a fairly, a relatively small city in the East Bay, and probably one of the reasons why Union City was even organized, it was because there was a strip of county land between Hayward and Fremont and I think both cities were, wanted to annex them, but then I guess the people in the area said, no, we don't want to be annexed. We want to be an independent city. So that's how Union City was formed.

TI: So it's kind of this nice little sliver of land between two bigger cities.

TK: Two bigger cities, yeah.

TI: Interesting. And is that where the nursery is located, in Union City?

TK: That's where Union (City Nursery) was located, Union City. And after that we started a nursery in Brighton, Colorado, and also one in Watsonville.

TI: Wow. So how many, and so for the nursery business, do you measure in acres, or how do you talk about the size of the nursery? How large is your nursery? Is it, like a larger one, or a midsize one, or how would you describe it?

TK: At one time, I don't know, maybe it's a little bit exaggeration, but they said we were one of the biggest carnation growers in the country. We had about a little over a million square feet at each one of our locations, and then when the imports (of carnations came) from South America (...) the demand for (domestic grown carnation) went downhill so that then we changed our crop to roses. And then we became one of the biggest rose growers in the country. And then when the South Americans and the Ecuadorians came with roses, well, we edged back a little bit, and now we sold our Union City operation and our Brighton operation and today we only have our Watsonville growing operation left, and that's about a million square feet. So we're one of the few, I guess, family-owned Japanese nurseries left in the country.

TI: And is it still roses down in Watsonville?

TK: No, we're almost out of roses. We're growing different miscellaneous crops. We're, right now most of our operation is done by the next generation, but we're mostly in sales. And we have quite a few wholesale operations in the country, and right now I think we've got one of the bigger wholesale chains.

TI: So you actually now buy from other places?

TK: Buy from, yeah.

TI: Like even overseas?

TK: We buy mostly from overseas.

TI: And is this a national operation?

TK: It's a national operation. Many of our wholesale operation is in Texas, Oklahoma, that area, but we have stores in the area and in New Mexico, Arizona, California, Idaho.

TI: So do you ever think about what your father would have said, especially when you had the Brighton and the Watsonville and Union City all going at the same time, did you ever kind of sit back and wonder what your dad would've thought if he saw all this? 'Cause he started with this really small greenhouse with a little boiler up on Bainbridge Island.

TK: Yeah, what my, I guess what my parents said is that if you got one bamboo it's easy to break, but if you got two it's harder to break, but if you've got four working together it's almost impossible to break, and I think in a way that's what, our family stuck together, so...

TI: So the brothers pretty much all worked together.

TK: All worked together, yeah. And now it seems like the cousins are working together, so things are working out very well.

TI: Now, are you or any of your brothers still involved in the operations of the business? Do you still...

TK: We have some interest in the business, but operation, no. Three of my brothers are gone now, so...

TI: Okay, so you're the last surviving?

TK: I'm the last of the brothers, yeah.

TI: Okay. Interesting. Good, I'm glad you added that. I didn't know about the --

TK: Huh?

TI: I didn't know about the business, so that's interesting. I'm glad we talked about that. Well, thank you for this interview. I think, again, I hope you enjoy it when you look at this and your family enjoys it, but I think it's really interesting, all the things that we covered. So again, so Ted, thank you so much.

TK: Okay.

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