Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank Hiratsuka Interview
Narrator: Frank Hiratsuka
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Skokie, Illinois
Date: June 15, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-hfrank_2-01-0005

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TI: Earlier you talked about how your family moved around, Palo Alto, San, well, then you went to San Jose with your grandparents.

FH: We went all over.

TI: Then Piedmont. Tell me a little bit about the people your father worked for.

FH: Well, I think his name was Allen. He had a hardware store. I don't remember his name, but he had a hardware store in Palo Alto, and he worked for the family, but then he'd go and help at the store. That's about all I remember with that.

TI: And then when you moved to Piedmont, was it still with the Allen family, or was it --

FH: No, it was a different family. He had two different families in Piedmont. One family was earlier, and then one family was later. The earlier one was, I'm trying to remember the sequence. Let me see if I can figure it out [looks over notes]. I have to figure it out from the school list. Went to Piedmont Junior High... oh, we went, you want to list the schools?

TI: So after, in Piedmont, sure.

FH: High school, there's Piedmont Junior, and then there's, went to one in Centralia. Centralia? Centerville, it was Centerville, California. That's, remember Jackson Perkins rose company, the florist, the rose company wholesale?

TI: No. So it was...

FH: He worked for (Jackson-Perkins).

TI: Okay. And where's Centerville? Where's that nearby, Centerville?

FH: It's right down the line of Centerville, near, it's near, not too far from Campbell. I went to school in Campbell. It's near San Jose, in between San Jose and Oakland.

TI: So how was it for you having to keep moving around and going to different schools?

FH: Well, it's sort of upsetting, but after a while you adapt to it, just do what you can. Music helped because I was into music. I played, so then wherever I went I got into orchestra or band right away, so there was no problem. And that way I met other people.

TI: Okay, so that was kind of your, it was almost like a, I'm not sure, a touchstone or, yeah, something that wherever you went you could...

FH: Utilize it, yeah.

TI: Utilize that as at least a place just to get connected with people. And what instrument did you play?

FH: I played saxophone there, and then later on I played clarinet. But I know at Centerville he had me playing bassoon and oboe, tried me on oboe and a bassoon because he didn't have anybody to play those. And I did a little bit of it, but it's difficult. It's a double reed instrument instead of a single reed. But it was sort of interesting. That made it more interesting because I tried different instruments. Everything he had he brought out and tried it on me.

TI: So it sounds like you were a pretty good musician that you --

FH: Fair, fair.

TI: But you could, you were able to --

FH: I could read the, in songs I could read the music and it was okay.

TI: Yeah, but not only read the music, but also adapt to different instruments.

FH: Different instruments, yeah.

TI: Which would be, which would be hard.

FH: But it's all reeds. It was all reed instruments.

TI: And going back, I forgot to ask, brothers and sisters, did you have brothers and sisters?

FH: No.

TI: Okay, so you're an only child. And that period when you went to go live with your grandparents, so why did you live with your grandparents? Why would you...

FH: Because they had a different job and they couldn't accommodate me there, so they let me stay at Grandpa's.

TI: And so when your father, so it was both your parents?

FH: They worked together.

TI: So when they worked for a family they worked together. Okay. How did they like their work? Did they ever talk about working for these families and whether or not they enjoyed working for these families? Or were some families better than others?

FH: Oh yeah, I'd imagine that's why they moved. But the last place they worked at was a long time. But other than that, well, and some, one time we had to leave because of the war, so that was disruptive.

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