Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank Kitamoto Interview
Narrator: Frank Kitamoto
Interviewer: Lori Hoshino
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date: April 13, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-kfrank-01

<Begin Segment 1>

Lori Hoshino: This morning we're interviewing Frank, Dr. Frank Kitamoto, here at his dental office on Bainbridge Island. And our videographer today is Matt Emery and my name is Lori Hoshino, I'm the interviewer. And Frank, thank you for letting us interviewing you today and I appreciate you letting Densho have this opportunity to talk with you. First of all, can you tell me a little bit about Bainbridge Island before the war, geographically, what kind of place was it?

Frank K.: Oh, gee... Bainbridge Island was probably one of the first places the Japanese settled on in the Northwest. Port Blakely is where the first Japanese that came to this area started working. And the first reported evidence on Bainbridge Island is in about 1883. And by the time the early 1900s occurred, there were probably two big towns at Port Blakely mill, plus probably some people that were down at Port Madison mill because it's just a big sawmill area. Port Madison -- Port Blakely, excuse me, was the largest sawmill in the United States at that time. And I think there were as many as 800 people in the two towns that were at Port Blakely. From there, people, some of the people, left the mill, some people jumped ship... they came in on the mill, came to the mill. I think agricultural-wise, the Moritanis planted the first strawberries on the Island and that was probably in the real early 1900s. I think community-wise, the Islanders, although they had essentially a culture of their own from the Japanese American, Japanese culture, they did associate quite a bit with the Caucasians that were here. Of course, schoolkids ended up going with schoolkids, so I think a lot of the close associations were with Caucasian children before the war.

LH: So the, the primary industry of the Japanese here, coming to Bainbridge Island was farming and timber?

FK: Mostly farming, also, also timber. I know my grandfather had come here from Bellevue and had rounded up timber, lumber, he was actually floating logs. I think the story goes he lost a big shipment of logs and then... [laughs]

LH: Well, wait a minute, how, how do you lose a shipment of logs?

FK: I, I assumed in logs -- in those days they used to have the logs and they had booms around the outside to keep the logs together. And I assume one of the booms broke or something and, and the logs drifted off and he had no way of gathering them back up to get them back together. So, I think that kind of forced him into going into farming. But he did, I think lease some land in Winslow for a while, and then ended up purchasing the Captain Olson residence off Fletcher Bay. I think he might have leased that for a while and then ended up purchasing it. But I think the, oh, this must have been somewhere around 1917, 1916 that they started buying the place. The story goes that they used to drive all the way to Auburn once a month to, to pay their, either their rent or their, the money when they were purchasing the land.

LH: Now that's quite a drive because...

FK: Yeah.

LH: that time, Bainbridge was a community that was an island community. How was it accessible from Seattle?

FK: They did have mosquito fleet ferries that landed at various, various places on the Island. So, I guess my grandfather must have had a truck of some sort, must have been one of the earlier trucks on the Island. But, it must have been a whole day proposition to catch the ferry, and go into Seattle and drive to Auburn, and pay the money and come back. So...

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

LH: So your father essentially was a, a farmer?

FK: My grandfather was.

LH: Your grandfather was a farmer, okay.

FK: Yeah.

LH: And was he the first generation to come over from Japan?

FK: Yes. I think he originally came into San Francisco. It must have been in the very early 1900s because I think he came up to Seattle about 1906 or 1907, right around in there, to pick up his, his wife. They, she was kind of like a picture bride but not exactly, because their family knew each other. I think my grandmother's sister or something was married to one of his relatives or something like that. So it was, it was, so they did know each other before that happened.

LH: Gee, 1906, in San Francisco. Was he there during that big earthquake?

FK: Well, I think what he did was, when he came, came up here to get his wife, and that's when the fire and earthquake, or whatever happened down in San Francisco. So he didn't go back to San Francisco, he stayed here in the area, and I think that's where they first settled in the Bellevue area.

LH: I see, so your, your mother came from maybe a similar village in, in Japan?

FK: I think so, I'm not, I think, I'm not sure, I think they may both be from Wakayama, but I'm not really sure. I know my grandfather for sure is from Wakayama.

LH: Yeah, and so where was your mom born?

FK: My mom was born in Seattle. She says she was one of the earliest Nisei women to be born in Seattle. So she was actually born in 1907 -- although in those days, the parents used to think when the kids were born they were one years old. So she was actually put down as being born in 1906 I think on the birth certificate. So, she was a year older than she was supposed to be. And in fact, I think, in those days when they tried to correct it later on and then the attorney essentially told them it was too hard to do that. So, leave it the way it was and, and you'd probably be able to own property in that, a year earlier than you're supposed to if you do that. So, I think that's what happened.

LH: Works for her benefit.

FK: Yeah, yeah.

LH: And what's your father's story? How did he come here?

FK: I'm not really sure. He, he said he was born in Watsonville and... in California in 1900. And that's, his birthday was February 25th, if I remember in 1900. And he said all his records were destroyed in the... the same San Francisco earthquake, and so he couldn't prove he was a citizen. Now, when I talked to my sister, she's not sure whether he was born there or was came, born in Japan and came over at an early age. It's hard to tell. Although, I know if he did come from Japan, it had to be very early, because some of the photos that he has show him as a pretty young guy. He said that he didn't get along very well with his stepfather. So, one day his father, stepfather, asked him what he learned in school and he said, "Nothing." So his stepfather said, "Well, why are you going to school?" So he just quit school. And, and actually left home and worked as a ships boy, kind of went out on his own... yeah.

LH: Now, you said he was how old?

FK: About twelve I think...

LH: Twelve.

FK: He quit school and actually kind of went out on his own when he was really early...

LH: At the age of twelve?

FK: Yeah, real early teens. And I know he was telling this story about having applied for a job as a chauffeur and it must have been after he was of age to get his driver's license. Anyway, but he got the job. So he decided if he had the job, he better go get a driver's license. So, he went to go get a driver's license. So he was, he was quite a guy... a pretty self-made guy.

LH: He was kind of an adventurous kid.

FK: Yes, yes. I think so.

LH: Yeah.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

LH: Well, so then, how did he work his way up to Seattle?

FK: Well, he had some relatives up here. I think the Miyauchis are related to my father and Mr. Hibiya, I think actually, they were kind of like cousins of his. So he came up here to visit them and ended up coming to the Island one day, I guess, and to the Nishinaka farm or whatever. And saw my mother working in the field and started courting her, I guess. And as my mother put it, she got kind of tired of him being so persistent, so she finally said yes. [Laughs] So, that's kind of the story that I've heard anyway. And I've talked to my aunt, Fumiko, and she said, she said yeah, they, they... the sisters anyway liked him and that she didn't know how their, how their father and mother felt about him, but the sisters liked him.

LH: I see. Did he end up being a farmer after that?

FK: Well actually, when they got married, I think it was about 1929, they ended up in Seattle. And I, I'm not sure, I think my father actually worked at a grocery store for a while. I don't know whether it was for the Miyauchis or what. But, I know my mother had a lot of miscarriages. It seemed like my sister was finally born. Let's see, she was born in '32, so it was probably a good... what? Three or four years before she had a, she had my oldest sister Lilly. But, he's never really farmed. He's kind of -- he worked for Friedlander's Jewelry stores before the war.

LH: Oh.

FK: As a sales, salesman.

LH: I see.

FK: And he would, on the weekends, he would help on the farm. But he, most of the time he was... I don't think farming was one of his strong points or -- [laughs] -- what he really wanted to do. So, my mother pretty much ran the farm. And my father would help out on weekends and I know he worked really hard, but I don't think farming was one of the things that he liked to do.

LH: Now, was that a typical situation back then that, maybe, a wife would run a farm?

FK: I don't think so. It might have been... true in background or whatever, that they would have quite a bit of influence on the farm. But in most cases, I don't think there were very many women who were actually running farms. And that was probably unusual, as far as my mother was concerned.

LH: Well it does strike me as unusual being that it's, that it's second generation. Still, Japanese culture might have an influence.

FK: Yeah.

LH: Yeah, I'm...

FK: So it was, it was probably unusual, yeah.

LH: So, your mom ended up running the farm.

FK: Uh-huh.

LH: And whose farm was this to begin with, though?

FK: It was, it was my grandparents' farm. Actually, when my mother was born, she was the first-born child and the way she put it was, she thinks she was kind of like an accident that shouldn't have happened. Because they, she said her parents felt like they couldn't get ahead. So what they did was they sent her back to Japan when she was just an infant. She said they gave a bolt of cloth to this stranger that the family didn't really know, but they found out he was going back to Japan, and gave her to this stranger to bring back to her uncle. And her uncle actually raised her in Japan, for... shoot, I think it must have been for nine years or so.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

LH: Well, she was their first child.

FK: Right, she was their first child.

LH: And they sent the first child back to Japan.

FK: Right, yeah. And so she was, she was raised by this uncle and this, I think her father was sending money back to his brother periodically to help take care of her and so forth. And in the meantime while she was over there, I think they had about two or three daughters, other daughters. And I know they (all), they went back to Japan. I think they went back to Japan because another uncle wrote and said that my grandfather's father was very ill, so would you please send more money. So my fath-, grandfather, instead of sending money, sold everything here and went back there to see how his father was. And it turned out his father really wasn't sick, this brother just wanted some money. [Laughs] So...

LH: That's a good ruse. [Laughs]

FK: Yeah, so they all went back to Japan, the kids too. And for a while, my grandmother and grandfather came back and left all the kids over there, to be raised by various uncles. And one of the explanations for that was that there was a quota system at that time, so you could only have two people in a family come back at a time and so forth. So, they, the kids kind of -- I don't know how they all ended up coming back eventually. But that, I know Mrs. Hayashida, Fumiko, had said that she was left there at one time... and, the rest of the family came back 'cause, and she was over the count or something. So, I don't, I don't know whether they, they went back and got her or what, what happened. But they all ended up back here. But my, my mother probably didn't come back to Seattle until she was about twelve. I mean, back to this, Bainbridge Island until she was twelve.

LH: Oh, boy.

FK: Yeah.

LH: So she didn't really meet her parents until she was an older child?

FK: Yeah. And she probably had fonder memories about her uncle and his family because she was raised there. And she said she was kind of treated as a princess because... it might have been because they were getting money from him or whatever. But she said it was, when she came back to the Island she had to go in the first grade, although she'd been in the sixth grade in Japan, because she didn't know English very well. So it was one of these one, one-room school, school buildings on, on the Island here.

LH: And so she came over here when she was twelve?

FK: Yeah.

LH: And had to go...

FK: To first grade.

LH: First grade.

FK: But she said by the end of the year she had caught up, and then, she was in sixth grade by the end of the year.

LH: That's amazing.

FK: Yeah, so I think she must have been a really intelligent person, especially if she didn't really know English that well and so forth.

LH: Right.

FK: But she said then, her grandfather told her that since she was the oldest she had to work on the farm. So, she said everybody else made it through school, at least through high school, one of the sisters actually made it through college. But she had to stop at sixth grade. And her grandfather told her that, I mean, her father told her that, "Since you're the oldest you have to work on the farm, but when I leave and go back to Japan, I'll give you the farm. I'll give you this farm." So... I know one day my, my aunts were sitting down talking and, and my mother was telling a story about how my grandfather, when it came time to go back, had told her that she, he thinks the other sisters would be really upset if he, if he just gave her the farm, so he would just give her the farm for what he paid for it. I guess my mother and father sent payments to him to pay off the farm. And I can't remember how much it was, but my mother's telling this story and she said we paid so and so much money for that farm -- and it was, it was some really low price and I mean, it was low on our standards anyway -- and then, her next oldest sister said to her, "Oh, that's not what he paid for it." And it turned out that he turned a profit -- [laughs] and she never knew it. And I thought oh, my God. [Laughs]

LH: On his own daughter.

FK: Yeah right, his oldest daughter, so... and she never knew it, 'til this other sister said, "No, that's not what he paid for it." And I asked my other aunt and my other aunt says -- that's, 'cause the three, three of the sisters, the three eldest sisters are dead now -- and so I asked Fumiko about that. Fumiko could, really couldn't remember how much they paid for it anyway. But she said, "I wonder how, I wonder how Fujio knew how much she paid for it." But she, 'course she knew everything. [Laughs]

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

LH: Well, so when did you and the kids come along?

FK: Let's see... my sister Lilly, my oldest sister, was born in '32. I think that's right. No, '33... Let's see, she's, she's five years older than I am, so that would be '34. She was born in '34. And then Francis was born three years later and, no, two years later, two years later. She was, 'cause she's three years older than I am, so she was born two years later in about '36 and I came in '39. And my youngest sister Jane was born in '41, just before we were sent to concentration camp.

LH: Okay, so you were born in '39...

FK: Right.

LH: Just two years before the war broke out.

FK: Right. Uh-huh.

LH: And you had two older sisters and then along comes a baby boy.

FK: A baby girl. [Laughs] Yeah, so I have three sisters. Yeah.

LH: Oh, okay.

FK: Yeah, so I'm the only boy and so, I'm spoiled rotten. [Laughs] I've never admitted that, but I'm sure I was. [Laughs]

LH: How was life growing up on Bainbridge Island at that time, right before the war? Do you, did your parents ever talk about what it was like that, at that time?

FK: Not really, and I don't remember that much about... because I was only about two years and almost nine months when we were taken off (the Island). So I, in fact, I don't remember very much about that, that day or that time at all. I know, talking with some of the adults on the Island about that time, that it sounded like it was a very good time, as far as, I mean, the Depression was pretty much... they were pretty much out of that and made it through. And they were at a time when, if they were growing berries, they, they were getting to a point there they were able to do that profitably. I know they had a lot of arrangements with the cannery people, as far as borrowing money to plant plants and so forth. And they had pretty much paid that back and they had started their own co-ops, as far as the berry, berry plants and berry canning and so forth. And so I think they were in a situation where (they were) doing well. I know a lot of -- there were seven big greenhouses here on the Island, seven separate ones that were pretty huge that people grew, grew plants and grew flowers and so forth. And the Nakatas had their grocery business. I think things were really looking up as far as how things were going. And they were just getting to the point where they were feeling like they were on their feet and beginning to be a little more prosperous than they were before.

LH: And as far as your family, can you describe what the farm was like before the war? What you've been told about what the farm was like?

FK: I think, it seemed like, even, even before my grandfather had the farm, it was, he was planting not so much berries as much as things like asparagus. I think he was, he was planting a lot of different things. It was more like a, a truck farm more than a berry farm at that time. And I think once strawberries were started, I think he switched to strawberries, too. But I don't know. Looking, looking at the pictures and stuff, it looked, it looked a lot like my, my, the house was probably a gathering place for a lot of social-type things, because it was just right there on the water. It was a really nice area. And I think it was pretty nice, nice situation here on the Island. Again, as I said before, the Japanese stuck together, just because they had to in a lot of cases, for support and stuff. And most of the families knew each other. But I think they were on very good terms with their Caucasian neighbors and, and the again, the kids really had a lot of good Caucasian friends as far as at school. So I, I think it was, was a nice life... a very nice life that they had. It was pretty much known that Bainbridge Island was a good place to go to and a good place to live.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

LH: So at, at the time of 1941 when Pearl Harbor, the news of Pearl Harbor broke out, you were two years old and your family was situated, well-situated on a farm and doing well. Your father was working as jeweler?

FK: He was working for Friedlander's as a salesperson.

LH: Okay, okay. I understand that your father was taken by the FBI after Pearl Harbor.

FK: Yeah, yeah. And as far as I can tell, it must have been some time in, some time in February... early, probably early February. I found some papers at the National Archives in Suitland. There were some papers that said he was arrested because of finding dynamite in the barn and a .22 rifle in the house. The dynamite, I'm sure, was there because of my, it was old dynamite that was left there from my grandparents, from clearing the land and so forth. And that time, at that time probably everybody had some sort of a .22 rifle or something.

But my mother had also said that she thought maybe he was rounded up -- well, also he couldn't prove he was a citizen because he couldn't, they couldn't find his papers and stuff. But she said she thought maybe he was rounded up too because he commuted to Seattle everyday. And because he commuted to Seattle everyday, he was making deliveries for some of the greenhouses. And the greenhouses were on Rich Passage, the passage the ferry now goes through to go to Bremerton, and a lot of the ships and stuff were driving through there. So they thought, they could have thought, he was maybe spying on the ships that were going into the Bremerton shipyard. And also he was selling, his biggest sales accounts would be the Japanese ships that came into port in Seattle, and he would go to the ships and sell jewelry and rings and things to the sailors on the ships. So, he had some contact in that way, too. So, my mother said that maybe that's why they thought he was somebody that might be dangerous. So, I don't have, I don't have any recollections of him other than (being rounded) up. But there were quite a few people on the Island that were, that were (also) taken.

LH: And do you know where he was taken to?

FK: He was taken to Missoula, Ft. Missoula, Montana. And that's, that's something else I know very little about except that one of the other people on the Island, whose father was also taken, had a friend that lived in Missoula and got some newspaper clippings about from (them) about the situation there. And there was also a book written that had some of the stuff about Ft. Missoula in there, so I was able to get hold of that.

LH: Did your father ever mention anything about his experience there in Missoula?

FK: No, he really didn't, not that I know of. And I guess I was just, at that, before he died, I was just not interested in this stuff. So I just never sat down and talked to him about it; and I sure wish I had, but...

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

LH: How about your mother. Did your mother say anything about that experience when he was taken away from the household?

FK: Not really, the only, the only thing I remember her mentioning was, the one time someone was interviewing her and she came up with the statement that she was glad that she went to camp.

LH: Why would that be?

FK: Well, that's what I said, "Mom, what would you say a thing like that for this awful situation?" And she said Dad had already been taken away and that she was at home with the four kids. And she was changing Chiseko's diapers in the bedroom and, I mean, Chiseko was Jane, Jane now so... she must, she would have had to be less than nine months at that time. And she said while I was changing her diapers, somebody yelled at her through the open window to pull her blinds because it was a black out. And our farm is like about 18 acres and we don't have that many neighbors that are real close to us. And she said, "It scared me half to death to know that someone was standing outside my bedroom window spying on us." She said without Yoshito, my father Frank there, it really scared her. So she said she felt a lot safer being with everybody else. And I thought, "What a thing to say, it just makes people feel (going to camp was for our benefit)." [Laughs]

LH: That's the first time I've every heard anybody express that opinion.

FK: Yeah. And she said, she said that... and it just, and it bothered me a little a bit because I thought people, if they didn't quite understand why she said that, would think that it was, we were put there for our protection. Which wasn't really the case at concentration camp at all, that we weren't put there for our own protection. But some people had that very feeling. In fact, I remember Jerry Nakata talking about his brother, (John who had) bought, who owned the grocery store, Eagle Harbor Market, on the Island. And that he said, he thought his brother was relieved because he would have had to deal with what the Caucasians on the Island would think, since most of the their customers were Caucasian. And when, when he (had to leave), I , I think they ended up leasing it to someone else. They leased the grocery store but the guy they leased it to was running it into the ground. And so, they ended up selling it because they couldn't do anything, because they weren't around to get it back on its feet. So, so I think at that time they did lose their grocery store. But it was the same situation of the unknown, of what was happening and (when they, if ever, would be back).

LH: So here's your mother, alone in the house with no husband, he's been taken away by the FBI.

FK: Right, right.

LH: And their four children...

FK: Yeah.

LH: In the household, that are all under age five or so.

FK: Age, yeah, age seven.

LH: Age seven.

FK: Right, yeah, so.

LH: Okay.

FK: Yeah. And she said it really scared her to know someone was standing out there, so.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

LH: So, the Bainbridge Island group was the first group to be evacuated by the army?

FK: Right.

LH: In the whole country.

FK: Right.

LH: And...

FK: And my, my feelings about that are that we were a definitely geographically isolated area.

LH: Was there some particular reason why Bainbridge was singled out? I mean, in your opinion?

FK: I think the reasons they gave were that the Bremerton shipyard was across from, from us on the west side, and then, the Boeings was on the other side. And we also had our Naval radio station on the Island. And in fact, it's interesting because that's the station that broke some of the codes from Japan. And, there was also an Army base at Fort Ward, which was on the southern part of the Island. And I think those were all the reasons they gave. But I think one of the compelling reasons for the army was that it was easy to round us up. They could isolate us very easily. They didn't allow Japanese to come to the Island and they didn't allow Japanese to get off the Island, so it was, it was easy for them geographic, geographically to just round us up. And I think we were kind of the practice run or test, test run for the Army. I know at the National Archives, I found an article written by an army official that was, a government official, that was telling the Army next time they do this, don't use your fixed bayonets because it doesn't look real good. So, I think we were kind of the practice run.

LH: Well that's interesting that you say that, because I notice on the wall behind you, you have a lot of photographs of, of that particular day.

FK: Right.

LH: And you were saying, perhaps, because you were the first group that there were a lot of photographs taken.

FK: Right. Yeah, most of the places where the army has gone in afterwards, they had their rifles, but they don't really have their fixed bayonets on top of their rifles.

LH: Because it didn't look good.

FK: Yeah, yeah. I mean to have all these innocent looking people, although some people didn't think we were very innocent, being herded with fixed bayonets. To some people's sensibilities anyway in the government, it did, it looked like overkill, I'm sure.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

LH: Frank, the day that Bainbridge Island was evacuated of all the Japanese, I know you were only two years old and so what memories you have, might, well, what you know of that day might be hearsay. What have you heard about that day?

FK: I know, (Now) I go out to the schools sometimes and Walt Woodward, who was the editor of The Review at that time, was gracious enough to go with me to some of the things. And he's, one of the things (I cherish). I remember him saying that this Army unit from New Jersey that had come to take us away, to escort us off the Island with the fixed bayonets and so forth, he said that first of all they talked really funny. They had this accent, which is kind of ironic when you think about (it). People could think we had accents. But he said by end, by the end of the time when they were marching us down from the dock to the ferry, he said most of the soldiers were crying... that they had tears in their eyes, and they were carrying kids. You can tell from the pictures they were carrying kids, because a lot of the mothers didn't have fathers, their husbands with them, they were actually carrying the luggage and stuff for the kids down there. And some of the people who were in their early twenties and late teens at that time said that the soldiers actually, all the way down to California, actually led the group on the train in songs. They would...

LH: Is that right?

FK: They would sing songs all the way down there. And I think when the train dropped us off, I think (we) ended up in Lone Pine, somewhere around there. And then they caught buses to Manzanar. She said that the group on the train actually took the time and stopped and (turned around) to thank the soldiers for, for bringing us down there and, and escorting us. I know some people on the Island actually, some of the women on from the Island actually corresponded with the soldiers for quite a while afterwards. Wrote letters back and forth.

LH: That's incredible.

FK: And I, and I think it was a real hard time for the adults, but at the same time... it was, it was a time when they really pulled together. It's interesting because people always say, why didn't you protest, why didn't you say you wouldn't go and that kind of stuff. And the times were a little different in those days. I think in a lot of ways, if they protested, it might have been worse because it wasn't, the awareness isn't like it (is) now. You didn't have television that would beam us across the world, or even to the rest of the nation, as far as what was going on. And it was really easy for things to happen to you and for people not to be aware of it. In fact, I think a lot of people back east never knew this even happened. But...

LH: Can I back up a little bit Frank?

FK: Yeah.

LH: If I can set the scene. This is a group of a little over 200 people...

FK: Right.

LH: ...from Bainbridge Island...

FK: Right.

LH: ...and it's an island community thirty minutes away by ferry from Seattle.

FK: Right.

LH: The men have been taken away, a, a good deal...

FK: Some of them, right. [Narr. note: 31 out of 45 families]

LH: ...of the husbands have been taken away, so what you have left on the Island are maybe some older Japanese and some families...

FK: Yeah, yeah.

LH: ...wives and children...

FK: Right, yeah.

LH: ...and are they in the position really, to do any protesting?

FK: The, the people that were left were probably the Niseis, because if you were a citizen they probably didn't take you away first. So it became -- the Niseis responsibilities to make decisions because a lot of the Isseis weren't there. I know they even tried to (find) a farm to take all of us.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

LH: Frank, I know that you were only two years old at the time of the evacuation from Bainbridge Island and so what you know of that day must have been hearsay, but what have you been told about that particular day?

FK: Well some of the things I've been told, some of the things we have gathered from oral histories with people on the Island, and some of the things I've read of newspaper clippings and things. I know the army trucks did come onto the Island and start rounding people up. I think the people either were brought by army trucks, big canvas covered trucks or... in some cases, the men, some of the Filipino men who were working on the farms actually drove us there to the site (at) Eagledale, which is the ferry dock that is across from the Winslow ferry where it is now. Bainbridge used to have two ferry docks at that time, where the ferry actually came into Eagledale and then moved over to Winslow and then moved to Seattle. My understanding is that we were all pretty much there by about 11:00 in the morning and then by 11:20 we had all been marched down to the dock. And there's that picture, the famous scene of being marched down to the dock. And we're all on the ferry by about 11:20. And I know there's a, there's a photo of the Mojis and their dog. Their dog wanted to go too, so he jumped into the truck and I guess the soldiers with some trepidation tried to get him off, and finally the Mojis helped get the dog off.

LH: So they just had, had to leave their pet dog behind.

FK: Yeah, they had to leave the pet with a neighbor... and I guess the dog refused to eat and died within about a month. So, and there's stories of the little girl who wanted to bring her kitten with her and, and (she cried)... of course she couldn't take the kitten, so the soldiers promised that they would get this little kitten on the train too, but of course they couldn't.

LH: Now how were you treated by the soldiers? What do you, as far as what you were told?

FK: My understanding -- also from the, from the people that were interviewed for our project and also for, from Walt Woodward who was the editor of the Bainbridge Review at that time -- was that the, the soldiers who had come from New Jersey, which is a long ways from where we are, were, were, a pretty tough, pretty efficient group. I think they were actually part of the National Guard for New Jersey and talked with funny accents. Which is, which seems kind of ironic when you think of, we're the ones that usually talked with funny accents is what people say. But by the time the day came for taking us down to the ferry dock and everything, most of the soldiers had tears in their eyes or were actually crying. They were carrying suitcases for the mothers, carrying kids. I know that the pictures I have, they were carrying me, so I, I know that, that was what was going on. And they actually, on the train -- I mean, we took two days to get down to Manzanar -- so on the train the soldiers actually led the groups in, in singing. And sang along with us and, and so forth. And that, and when we got to California and we got off the train, the Bainbridge Island people actually paused and stood to thank the soldiers, in mass, for what they had done (for us) and how humane and how caring they were as far as bringing us down there. I'm sure a lot of them probably thought maybe this was something that shouldn't be happening.

And I don't know whether... I know recently the curator at the Bainbridge museum actually contacted one of the solders in one of these pictures we have on the wall because the names are all set down on the newspaper articles. And he was, he said, he was too old, and too old to come over to the Island. We had tried to see if he would come over for Day of Remembrance. And he said he was too ill and too old to come over, but he had some real meaningful memories of what happened. And I think that's an area we have to cover, we have to... and then, I'm sure they're all getting into their seventies and eighties and nineties by now. So hopefully, some day we'll be able to get down there, and interview them and find out what their feelings were about what happened there. I know a lot of the high school classmates, of kids that were in high school, actually came to see us off. There's, again there's some photos that were taken at the time show some high school kids, Caucasian high school kids, saying goodbye to their Japanese friends. Gerald Nakata had said that actually one of his friends actually got on a rowboat in Winslow and rowed across to Eagledale to, to say goodbye to us. And he said a couple of his friends actually took the ferry, the regular ferry before us, since we were on the special ferry, the Kelohken, and got to Seattle so they could try to be there when they, when they, when we got there, to say goodbye to us. And of course, that was pretty tough to do because they marched us right off the ferry, right to the waiting trains on the waterfront and took off right away.

LH: That's incredible.

FK: So, and I think, by, by about quarter to twelve was when we were in Seattle and by maybe a little after twelve we were off. I mean, the train pulled out.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

LH: And where did you go?

FK: I, I... my understanding is we went to Lone Pine and then from there we were transferred to buses. We, I don't remember that much about the train. I remember some, I remember... I remember though looking out the windows and seeing all the telephone poles go, go flashing by. And I remember the ping, ping, ping noise at nighttime. And I don't know why that was in my mind, but I remember that. And I remember the milk cartons that were on the train, because they were these funny megaphone shaped milk cartons. And I think I might, I might remember those because they were cardboard. And I might remember them because I think we had some in camp for a while that we used to throw pencils in and I don't know whether we had some after camp that we used to throw pencils into. So I remember those. I know, and I don't remember that much about getting to Manzanar. I know Kay Nakao, who's probably about, oh, she must have been in her early twenties at that time, but she said, she remembers getting on that bus and driving through the desert, and thinking how hot it was here, on the way to Manzanar. She said she saw this place out in the distance where they were driving... that she said, she said to herself, boy I'm glad we're not going to go there... and she said the bus pulled right into the gate, and that's where we were. So, so she said that's the way it was.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

LH: So Manzanar, the Bainbridge Island group went to Manzanar. And where was your father at this point? He was still in...

FK: My father was still in Missoula.

LH: Missoula.

FK: Yeah, yeah.

LH: When did he rejoin the family?

FK: I think he must have join, joined the family just before they were trying to make everybody sign the... the questionnaire with the two loyalty oath questions, because I remember my mother talking about those questions and how my father refused to sign yes to them.

LH: And why would that have been?

FK: Well I've always... literally thought that hard about why he didn't want to sign his. But when I think back on it, I'm thinking, here he was, taken away from his family with probably what he thought was no reason at all. And I, I found the papers where he petitioned to be, get out of Missoula and join us. And I'm thinking he was probably bitter at that time, pretty bitter at that time. Here he was being asked to, if he would be willing to serve in the U.S. Army, and if he would disavow any allegiance to the Emperor of Japan. And, and I'm thinking... now I'm thinking, "If someone threw you into jail unjustly and without giving you hearing or anything... I mean, would you feel good about that? And would you feel good about saying, 'Yeah, I really love my country, and I really love what's going on, and I'm willing to forgive whatever happened to me'?" And I'm thinking, knowing my father and how the type of person he was, he probably wasn't feeling really too good about that. So, he was refusing to sign "yes."

And my mother told me the story of how she pleaded with him to sign yes. She said, "You know, what would you do in Japan?" She knew, at that time, if you didn't sign yes and you couldn't prove you were a citizen that they were going to send you off (to) someplace else and maybe exchange you for Caucasian people that were trapped in Japan. She said, she was saying to him, "What would you do in Japan? You can't write Japanese, you can't read Japanese, you know, what would you do there?" And she, she ended up saying, "I'd rather hang myself than go to Japan." And my dad was so angry with all this frustration that he said, "Go ahead."

LH: Oh my.

FK: So, so and, and she's telling the story, and I'm going oh yeah, oh gee, that, that just, just kind of...

LH: That's quite a threat and quite a reaction.

FK: Yes. And when I think about it now, I can think of how frustrated my father must have felt about the situation. I think what eventually happened was that... some other people talked my father into signing yes. And I think he thought about what the consequences were going to be, and finally ended up signing yes. So I know, they said that Reverend Andrews from the Baptist Church was one of the people that talked to him and talked him into signing yes. But I feel like if he hadn't signed yes my whole life would be a lot different than it is now. And I probably, I may not even be here, I may be in Japan. So I'm glad he did sign yes, but I'm, I'm beginning more and more to understand why he was so frustrated and not wanting to sign yes.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

LH: But still, he still never did really explain how he had been treated up in Missoula?

FK: No and I don't have the slightest idea. The only things I know are there was some - the newspaper clippings that were... I was able to get, had some articles about how the Japanese and the Italians up there didn't get along... that they didn't like each other's food. And I'm going, well, (that makes a lot of sense). [Laughs] That for, and I think that most of the Italians were actually, Italian nationals. They weren't like American, Italian Americans, but they were Italian nationals. So, and, and it was hard for people, I guess at that time, to make the distinction between nationals and Americans. And I don't know whether it was rough up there or whatever. I know some of the pictures show like they were in maximum security there for a while as far as barbed wire all over the place. But...

LH: Why was it do you think, that, that your father never did speak of it?

FK: I don't know. I don't know whether it was because none of us were, ever asked him about it, or, or what. Because he died in '67 and I really didn't get interested, back on history, until after I was out of college. And I got out of college about '65 in dental school. So, he died a couple of years after I got out of dental school and a year after I got married. So I don't know. I, I, I think in a lot of ways, that the experience was real painful for some people, real painful. And, and I know when we started, we tried to get our oral history project started, on the Island it was, we had a lot of resistance. It was three of us, Sansei that wanted to do this thing. I was probably the oldest of the three Sanseis. But, they were coming up with things like, "Why would you want to bring up bad memories for the... if you brought this stuff up, then what would the rest of the Caucasian population think of us on Bainbridge Island?" and things like that. They made some statements like, that we were really angry people because we wanted to bring this up. So there was a lot of resistance to bringing up a history project about...

LH: And so how did you decide to proceed?

FK: We... just proceeded. [Laughs] But at the same time, some of the older guys, maybe like my sister's age, who had done a lot in the community and probably had a little more weight than we did, as far as in the community, because of their stature started agreeing with us and through their support back... and they were Sanseis also, that were about five years older than we were. Or in some cases, even more than that, because I was actually ten years older than the younger Sanseis that wanted it (Narr. note: To do the project). And the other two Sanseis that wanted to do the project did not go through internment; but they had a real keen sense, especially one of them. I think Ron Nakata had a real keen sense of what it was like to go to school here. And the things he had to struggle with as far as that identity, and I had the same feelings. So, when we had talked about that, we, it was pretty much, we decided we needed to do it for our kids. That they needed to know who they were and not have to go through the same things we did. Where you, more (or less), where you tended to deny your, your heritage and who you were.

And that was really a problem for me when I think back. I didn't really realize that 'til I was in college, in how much I had tried to be white. And how hurtful that was to me. And I'm, and I didn't want that to happen to my son and I didn't want that to happen to future generations. So that kind of drove us. And, and, and I think the Sanseis, that were about five years older than I, they also felt the same way. So, once we got the project started it was, people realized that they had to do this. So, and it was for our kids, but it was obviously for us as well. I mean, to watch people talk about things and say, "I haven't mentioned this for fifty years. It's the first time I've talked about it." And start talking about it and have tears start streaming, streaming down (from) their eyes (down their cheeks). You just knew, that it was not only for our kids but it was for us too.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

LH: Okay Frank, how about your mom? Did your mom speak to you much about that time in Manzanar?

FK: No, I don't think, I don't think anybody spoke to anybody until we started this project and, and I think... whenever I talked to my mom about it, or ask her a question, she was very willing to talk about it. And I don't remember talking to my father that much about it. But neither of them probably ever brought it up, or started talking about it on their own. And I think that's probably true in most of the families here on the Island. In fact, some of the families still say, "We've never really talked about this with our kids, and we don't (like to) give interviews and, and talk about it," when they're asked questions. But I think that in most families, no one's, none of the adults have really sat down and talked about this experience with their kids. In fact, one of the, one of the guys said that his kids said, "You went through that?" So they didn't, didn't know that their, their parents actually had even gone through it, so...

LH: And this was a Sansei?

FK: Yeah. You mean as far as the kids or the...?

LH: Uh, the person, the man.

FK: Yeah, yeah. Let me see, no, he would have been a Nisei.

LH: A Nisei.

FK: And his kids would have been a Sansei, yeah, yeah.

LH: Do you think it's a cultural reason?

FK: To not talk about it? I don't know. I think that could probably be part of it. You know, you tend not, in the Japanese culture, you tend not to want to complain. And, and you want to gaman or be as strong as you could be and so forth. And I think that was an advantage, because it helped us, get us, get through this. But at the same time, I think the memories of that period of time are not a real, real positive one for most people, and very painful in a lot of cases. And, and I think it was hard for them to talk about this. In a lot of ways, it's shameful to a lot of people. That they were, that they were rounded up and put in sort of like a prison.

LH: In your view, what do you mean by shameful?

FK: I think it's like... being treated as a second class person and not as worthy as other people. To have your constitutional rights thrown away when no one else has... would make you think that you're being treated as a second class person and of less worth. And if you can't say to yourself, "There's a real reason for me being treated this way other than the way I look," then it becomes very hard. Because you have to say to yourself, first of all, that the... America isn't what I thought it was, because you're being treated for the way you were, just because of the way you look, because you look like an enemy and not because you really are. And I think when that happens, and it happens enough, then we -- if you try to, you're a little afraid of protesting because if you're turned down even more, it even -- it reinforces it even more, that, that you're a second class person. And I think after a while you could start believing that. And then, it becomes really difficult to have to bring this up again and have to go through the experience again of being treated less than you are. And I, so I think that's a real painful situation. And I don't know whether that has much to do with culture or because you're Japanese. I think, well, I think the, the newer generations of Japanese Americans, the kids are going to be more assertive... but at the same time, fear the situation where it seems like everybody is against you and no matter what you do the outcome's going to be the same. I think those are big odds to have to, to fight up against. And I think those are things you don't want to have happen to you again. So, it becomes really difficult to talk about it.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

LH: Yeah, and you were in the position of being a two year old at the time...

FK: Right.

LH: You had no choice...

FK: Yeah.

LH: You had no choices.

FK: And I think a lot of the adults felt the same way.

LH: Right.

FK: I think the prevalent attitude at that time because of JACL, came in a leadership role. And I think most of the JACL people were... well they had to be, they had to be Niseis, because I think the JACL was only taking citizens as members at that time. If it was Japanese American Citizens League, and if you were Issei, you couldn't be a citizen because there was no way you could be one until 1952. So the prevalent attitude, attitude at that time was that you cooperate and show you're an American. And that cooperation would be, would be better because... talking against what was happening and so forth was, would just inflame things even more. And, and at the same time the Japanese culture was, even for Isseis, was that you respect authority. That you don't... talk against authority because in a lot of ways that's shameful and it's... not something you do. You assume, if someone's in charge or is in a power position that they know what's best for you and that's why they're there. See, so, you don't, you tend not to question authority because they should know what is best. So, that's culturally, that would have been the situation also with Isseis, so...

LH: So pretty much this whole Bainbridge group, you felt, sort of reflected that feeling?

FK: I think most of us did. I think most of us... again, I think most of the leadership role fell to the Niseis and they, and they kind of felt that way. I, I don't think it's... it's stereotypical, because you don't think... It's not everybody really, really felt that way, I'm pretty sure... I mean, some of the younger guys talk about how they really felt about things. By younger, I mean, people that were in their early twenties and stuff at that time. And how, one guy mentioned, how he was drafted but he was moving around. So, the (draft notice) would always get there a few (moments) after he left this place. And he said, the comment he made to me was, he was willing to go in (the army), but they'd have to find him first. He wasn't going to help them find him. I mean he's, he was just, he wasn't moving to get, to avoid it, but if he moved and the letter got there late, he wasn't going to call them up and say, "Yeah, I'm here now." So, but... and he did serve in the army eventually and so forth. (Narr. note: Military Intelligence School)

But the, the feeling was, I think the feeling was, really prevalent that among the younger guys was, "Hey, what is this... you're trying to get us to do this stuff and still you're treating us this way." I know one of the guys said, when he came to that questionnaire, he refused to sign it. And he, and he said there was a lone army personnel that was questioning him about this because he didn't sign it. And he said, he said, "Sure I'm loyal to the United States. And sure I, you know, I've got nothing to do with the Emperor of Japan. And it's, this, it's, it makes me angry that you even ask this question." But he said, "As long as I'm not free or whatever, I refuse to sign it." But he said, "If you, if you do draft me, I'll go." So... and I said, "Why?" I said to him, "Well, didn't you get in trouble for that and not signing?" He said, he said, "No, I never signed it." He said, "I think that the soldier, that I talked to, understood."

LH: Really.

FK: But I know a lot of cases where guys didn't sign it because of the same reasons; they ended up being rounded up and given prison sentences and stuff for being draft resisters. So I think, it's interesting, because it depends on who was with you, and how sensitive someone was, and what kind of feelings they had toward you. And I think that was even the case with judges. Some people got real harsh sentences for doing something and some people got less because the judge, the judge person understood. And, and knew what was going on. It was, it was kind of like you were at the mercy of whoever was there and how that person was feeling about the situation more than anything else.

LH: Interesting, interesting.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

LH: Then, so then, your time in Manzanar was about until February of 1943?

FK: Yeah, yeah.

LH: And where did you go after that?

FK: We went to Minidoka.

LH: And do you have any memories of that time in Minidoka?

FK: I have some memories of Minidoka. I don't have much of Man, Manzanar. I guess, Manzanar is mostly hearsay. I know everybody says it was really dusty there. And, and I do remember one thing in Manzanar, that was when I remember waking... I remember two things in Manzanar. One was waking up in the morning and being covered with sand, and then looking at my mattress and seeing the outline of my body on the mattress. Because the adults said the buildings were built so hastily, they built them out of green lumber, so all the boards shrank which made sense.

LH: Oh no.

FK: So you would have spaces between all the boards. And of course, the walls and the roof were covered with tarpaper, but the floor wasn't. So, all the sand would come up through the bottom of the floor whenever the wind blew, so everything would be all covered with the dust. One of the adults said that they remember standing in the mess hall line and the bread was covered with sand. So, the next person might turn it over and the next person came and saw that it was sandy (again), so they turned it over. And pretty soon, there was no sides to turn over, the whole loaf of bread was covered in sand. And so, so I remember, I remember the waking up and that. The other thing I remember was the oil heater in Manzanar and how it used to make this roaring noise.

LH: Was this in your own barracks?

FK: Yeah, each barrack, each room had an oil heater in the middle and that was the only source of heat in the, in the wintertime. And also, you didn't have any insulation in the buildings, it was just tarpaper on the outside. There was nothing. I mean, on the inside it was just 2 x 4's, the studs, nothing on the inside. So, I remember that oil heater being really scary. I also remember doing something really stupid once, and I don't really know why I did it, but I put a piece of paper in that thing once. Fortunately, my mother came in as soon as I put the piece of paper in, so she stomped out the fire. But I, I was doing... [Laughs] some things that maybe weren't that smart.

LH: Oh, this is at Manzanar.

FK: This is at Manzanar, yeah.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

LH: Well why, why did the Bainbridge Island group go up to Minidoka?

FK: Well, some, my mother said... first of all, they wanted to be with the Seattle group because we were the only group from the Northwest in Manzanar, everybody else was from California. She said that some of the parents were a little concerned also, because the kids from Bainbridge Island were getting into fights with the kids from California. And the California kids were pretty, especially the ones from like Little Tokyo and stuff, were really pretty much street-wise and that kind of stuff and the Bainbridge Island group was a little country bumpkin type kids. And, and the other thing was, that the kids from L.A. were dark and the kids from Bainbridge were light skinned. It must have had something to do with our weather up here. But they were getting into fights and stuff. And they felt like, some of the parents, some of the parents felt like they wanted to get the kids away from this atmosphere. When I talked to some of the kids, at that age who were supposed to be involved in this gang warfare type stuff, they said, "Well, we held our own." He said, he said, "We learned pretty fast." In fact he said, "When we got to Minidoka, we used some of those tactics on some of the other kids." And I thought, "Oh swell!" [Laughs] And it was the day of zoot suits and those kinds of things. But that was one of the reasons that they wanted to get the kids out. The other thing was that they really wanted to be with their friends from Seattle. So I don't know exactly what process they used, but they petitioned to be moved and we were moved to Minidoka. Not all of us went, some of the people from the Island had relatives in California so they chose to stay there, but the majority of us went to Minidoka.

LH: So therefore, you were the first group to enter Manzanar, but you were the last group to enter Minidoka?

FK: Yes, yes. We ended up in the last... what do you call those...? Last... well, it was block, last block. And I remember 44-8-E was where we, our family stayed. Because I, my mother had... embroidered that in some of my clothes, because I kept leaving my clothes everywhere. So I remember, still remember having some things after we came back from concentration camp with 44-8-E on them.

LH: 44-8-E.

FK: So that's why I remember that. It was Block 44, Building 8, Room E.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

LH: Now, can you describe a little bit about what you remember of, of Minidoka?

FK: Minidoka. Again I was really young, so I remember things maybe kids remember. I, if I remember, I think because we were in the last block, I think we had irrigation ditch one side. And I don't really think we had a fence on our end. I'm not sure. I remember seeing baseball fields. And I remember once seeing the older men playing the younger men in baseball. And the younger men were wanting to play fast pitch and the older men wanted to play slow pitch. And I remember, distinctly, one of the older men going out to the mound and trying to show the young guy how to pitch it slow. [Laughs] And I remember, I remember one night we went out in the sagebrush because there was some cowboys out there with sheep.

LH: How did, how did you know they were cowboys?

FK: Some of the older kids must have found out or something and, and I remember going out there at night once and seeing these cowboys. First time I've seen real cowboys, and wagons and stuff. And I remember we sat around the campfire for a while. I remember that the older kids had a real extensive network of tunnels, going under buildings and going out in the sagebrush, where they dug these ditches and covered them over with boards. And there was like secret passages everywhere.

LH: Is that right?

FK: And it was real exciting to see this. 'Cause they had candles in there... I don't know where they got all this stuff, but, and so that was kind of exciting.

LH: You, you actually went down in these tunnels?

FK: Yeah, they actually let me go down there. I don't know why they let me go down there, but they let me go down and I remember seeing that. I remember being pulled (on a sled) on the pond when it froze over. People would skate on the pond, and I was on a sled and they would pull me behind on the sled, and I remember that. What else...? I remember, I remember almost hanging myself one day.

LH: How in the world did that happen?

FK: It was a rope that was hanging like this, with no, no board on this rope and I was swinging on the rope.

LH: Where was that? Where was it?

FK: It was, it was in front of my cousin's barrack, actually my aunt's barrack. And there was another rope that was hanging on the side, down, and I slipped off this rope, and the rope on the side wrapped around my neck. And, and my cousin who was only a year older than I am -- I must have been about, I don't know, four or five, so maybe he was about six or so -- ran in the house and got a knife and cut me down. And I'm glad, I'm glad he was smart, [Laughs] because I don't know if I was very smart.

LH: And you, how old were you at the time?

FK: I had to be somewhere around four or five, somewhere around in there.

LH: So your cousin was how old?

FK: A year older, yeah.

LH: Gee, and he...?

FK: So, he had the presence of mind to do that. And, but I remember that, that rope burn being around my neck for really a long time.

LH: Boy.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

FK: And then there was a time I went to the beauty contest and I was sitting in the front row. And, and in those days they had... oiled gravel, as the big open place where you had...

LH: Was this Miss Minidoka contest?

FK: It probably was, it probably was. I don't know which one it was, but I know they announced the winner, everybody surged forward and trampled me into the gravel. And, and I remember going to the, to the block hospital with my oldest sister. My oldest sister was with me, and them picking this gravel out of me. [Laughs] So I remember things like that. I know one day I, when my father was, was back with us, I remember taking a couple packs of his cigarettes and giving one pack to my cousin. And then, both of us snuck under the barracks. And I guess, we weren't really afraid of ticks and rattlesnakes at that time. We were probably too young to know there was a problem with those. But I smoked the whole pack of cigarettes.

LH: Oh, boy. Again, you're five or six?

FK: Yeah. And I, I really got sick... and I never told my mother why I was sick. In fact, I didn't tell her about it 'til I was in college and she probably didn't even remember about it by then. But, boy, that's, that's when I gave up smoking, when I was five years old. I, [Laughs] there was no way I was going smoke after that. I was oh, so sick! [Laughs]

LH: So you, you never got caught?

FK: Yeah. Never got caught and never did it again... [Laughs] not even one.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

LH: Okay, Frank. Back in Minidoka, your father was there with your family at that point, right?

FK: He was there for a very short time.

LH: And why was that?

FK: He was, he was still trying to figure out how to get out of, out of concentration camp. They were allowing people to go to either the midwest or back east, but not to go home, if you had a sponsor or if you were going to school and so forth. And, or if you were helping by -- because of the manpower shortage as far as, but -- with agriculture or factories or so forth. And he was -- my mother said he wanted us to move to Denver. And my mother said, "Well, what are you going to be doing in Denver?" And he really didn't know what he was going to be doing. So she said, "Well you know, how you gonna feed the family and stuff if we all go there?" So, she had refused to move to Denver but rather would stay there, because she didn't know what he would do to feed the four kids. And he, finally, decided to go back to Chicago and go to watch repair school... because his dream really was to own his own jewelry store, because he had worked for Mr. Friedlander. He actually had a letter of recommendation from Mr. Friedlander. In fact I found that letter. And I had it once, I showed the slide of it once... and this woman from one of the Jewish history things that's going on in Seattle wanted me to mail her the letter. And I couldn't find it, but I finally found it again, but now I've lost her address. So, I should probably try to figure out who she is and try to get her that letter... because it probably was unusual (then) to have a Japanese person working for a Jewish person and have that person write a letter of recommendation. But, so he went back to Chicago to watch repair school.

LH: Right.

FK: And when he came back after the war, he actually got a loan from Mr. Friedlander to start his own jewelry store.

LH: I see.

FK: So this was a real, things that he was really grateful for, for the Friedlander's to do that. So, he didn't really spend that much time in concentration camp with us. In fact, I don't remember my father very much in the three years that we were there. He was kind of like in and out, there for a little while. And that might have a lot to do with my not feeling like I'm, I was close to him, or not feeling like that I knew very much about him.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

LH: Well, now, who did you turn to then if you... if you were looking for a male role model, what did you do?

FK: Boy, I don't know. Of course he was back home when we came back. And I was six then, but in the years between two-and-a-half and six, I don't know who I did, or what, who I had as my male role model. I think that might have not have been only my case, but it probably was in a lot of cases. And a lot of cases, in concentration camp, when everybody was leaving either to go in the army, or to go to school, or to go work in Chicago, or to work in Pennsylvania or any of those kind of things. I think toward the end of the time there, the only people in the concentration camp were older people, mothers with kids... and there were a lot of the younger men who just weren't there. And I think we lost a lot of our role models. In fact an interesting thing, we... just the other day, the people on the Island were saying -- they're going to do this filming of Snow Falling on Cedars which is that... but -- and they were, they've recruited people from the Island to do a dock scene. And they said, "Well, we shouldn't be in it because there was really no one over fifty that was evacuated."

LH: Is that right?

FK: That's just never dawned on me. But it's probably true because... most of the people, their parents, they were in their twenties and their parents were probably in their fifties. And there was really very little, few, if any, there were very few people, that were probably in their eighties. That were... and that's where they are now, they're all in their seventies and eighties. And there are probably very few people of that age that were evacuated. There might have been a few, but not very many.

LH: Oh, so they're acing themselves out of the movie role.

FK: Yeah, yeah. They're saying, they're saying that we were too old to be marching down the dock...

LH: I see.

FK: Especially from Bainbridge Island, because there was no one that old that was...

LH: So it wouldn't historically be accurate.

FK: Right, yeah. And that just never dawned on me. That most of the people there were, the oldest people that were prob, probably evacuated were somewhere in their late fifties or sixties. And I guess, maybe, in those days you would have thought that was really old. So I don't know, but it's probably true, there were not very many people in their seventies or eighties that were, that were sent to concentration camp. (Narr. note: Most Issei were taken by the FBI earlier)

LH: I see.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

LH: Well, it's really interesting that when I read the survey that you had finished, that one of the questions in there was if you were to rate your camp experience, how would you rate it? And you answered, at the time, neither best or worst years of your life, but in retrospect you thought that perhaps they were the worst years of your life. Could you explain that a little bit?

FK: Yeah. I think, I think we as kids probably didn't know what was going on. And it was kind of nice because you had all your cousins near you and you had your friends near you. I heard a lot of the guys anyway, that were in their teens, saying it was a really great time because they'd never seen so many teenage women or girls in their life, so it was really great socially. But when I think back on that time, I'm thinking my father wasn't with us most of the time and I think that had a real effect on me. I think the general attitude at that time, was destroy most things that are Japanese, because we don't want the FBI to come and get us and take us away. So a lot of my cultural background was probably taken away or hidden. And the implication from that is that it's not a good deal to be Japanese. And I think, a lot of that happened because of concentration camp period.

And... I think although we as children say we weren't as affected, because it was the grownups who went through the hardship and all the things that they lost and so forth... you can't help feeling like that feeling of, of despair and the feeling of not being treated as equals to other people and the feeling of fright and so forth did not transfer to us, I'm sure it transferred to us. And I think it had a lot to do with me growing up, spending a lot of time, wishing that I was white. That I could be as good of an American as the rest of the kids that I knew in my class. And, and trying as hard as I can, probably to deny a lot of my Japanese heritage, without being smart enough to realize that somebody just had to look at me and know I wasn't white. Because you tried so hard to fit in, so hard to be a... person of significance, and still felt like you had the handicap of not being the same as everybody else there. And that, a lot of that could have been because we were also on Bainbridge Island, raised in a community that wasn't... very Japanese-y. I mean it was predominantly white, especially when we came back, since only about half of us came back. Out of the two hundred and something that left, maybe just half of us came back. So maybe out of the fifty, I think it was either fifty-four or forty-five (families). I get the two numbers mixed up sometimes -- but I guess, I think about half of us, half of the families came back. So, when we entered school here, although, I don't remember anybody ever really giving me a real, real bad time. I'm sure there were times when people either hated, didn't like to associate with me or didn't associate with me 'cause I was different.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

LH: Well, if I could back up just a little bit. So, you did return to Bainbridge Island. And I'd like to talk a little bit later about your school experience.

FK: Sure.

LH: But, you were released from, or allowed to leave camp in 1945, about July?

FK: Actually, I think the... release was signed sometime in February, late February sometime, but I don't... I think the first family that came back to the Island, actually came here from Manzanar, that was the Takamotos and they came back in April, we came back in July. And some of that might have had to been because of the Supreme Court ruling on, I think it was the Endo case, where they said that they couldn't hold her without just cause. Although they had overruled, I mean, they had agreed with all the other rulings on like Hirabayashi and all that kind of stuff. They said that because, this woman hadn't done anything, like violate the curfew or that kind of stuff, that there was, it was not constitutional that, help. I think the government realizing that they were in trouble, as far as, if other people started suing them they'd really be in trouble. So, I think that's when, even before the war was over, they decided that we could start returning. But they didn't make any arrangements for helping us pack or anything. I mean they made us arrangements, for us, for getting us down there. But they didn't make any arrangements for getting us back.

LH: So what did happen to your family?

FK: Well my father, actually, came back from Chicago, came to Bainbridge to check out the climate he said, decide -- it wasn't the weather, it was -- like what was it, whether it was safe to come back to the Island. And he said that when he was here, he said some people would say, "Hi Frank," the people he used to ride on the ferry with, and, "Glad to have you back." And also he said there were also some people who refused to acknowledge him. And actually turned their backs on him when (they) saw (him) coming, when they saw him coming. He said one of the women, Genevieve Williams who's a real unusual person. I remember her, I remember after the war, I remember she used to smoke a pipe and I thought that's kind of weird for a woman. But she actually tagged along with my father, my father said. And he was sure it was to make sure that no one harassed him, that she just tagged along to make sure that no one was going to give him a bad time. And she did the same thing with some other people that came back too, as far as taking them and having them over for dinner and, and making sure that they were...

LH: So she, she went out of her way.

FK: Right.

LH: To make people feel welcome.

FK: So, she went out of her way to make sure that, that we were okay and that no one was going to give us trouble. So, I think my father decided it was okay to come back home. So he actually got the, our old truck, which is in the picture on the wall up here, and came back to pick us up in Idaho. And we loaded up in the truck. And some of the pictures that were taken in concentration camp that we have, I think were after he brought the truck back. I don't know whether he had the camera or somebody had the camera. But, so we all piled up into this truck and drove to the Island. And my father, I know he used to frustrate me to no end because he had this big temper and sometimes he'd do things that I think were really stupid and crazy. Me, being as intelligent as I am. But I know, he had, he had a heart of gold. He just never could refuse anybody when they needed something or wanted something. And, and my mother says here we are, four kids, her and my father in this truck, and most of us piled in the front seat and all our belongings in the back, and then these two strangers wanted a ride to Seattle from Idaho. So he said, "Oh, sure." [Laughs] So, we ended up with these two strange men in this truck with, with the four kids and he and my mother. And she said, "I could never understand why he could say yes when... " [Laughs] I can understand now though, why he could do that. He just, it's just the way he was. And so...

LH: That's great.

FK: We drove. And, and the first recollection I have of the Island, is when we were on the ferry approaching the Bainbridge Island ferry dock. And my father said something about, "Oh, we got on the wrong ferry. This is Vashon." And I'm going ahh... but he was just kidding. So... [Laughs]

LH: Trying to make sure you were paying attention.

FK: Right, I think so. Yeah, you know, gee. Everything was so green and everything looked so big. And I'm going wow, because I, I didn't remember any of the Island at all.

LH: Well, it sounds like... was that a big contrast from Minidoka?

FK: Oh, definitely, definitely because at Minidoka we were out in this sagebrush. And, and although there was some things grown there and some things were green, you didn't see the big trees or the big body of water like Puget Sound. And so it was definitely a big contrast to where we were.

LH: Do you recall, excuse me, do you recall returning to your farmhouse?

FK: I don't, I don't remember the farmhouse that much when we got here, other than that it was big. To me, I mean we, the only thing I remember up to that was I was living in the barracks, which was one room, 16 x 20 or whatever. So, it was really something to come to this, this house with rooms and so on and so forth. So it was impressive. [Laughs]

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

LH: And, and why was it that your family chose to return to Bainbridge?

FK: Well, we were, we were fortunate that the Filipino men that, that were working for my mother and father, looked after the farm while we were gone. They actually had worked for my grandfather, before my parents bought the farm from them. And so, I think my mother and father made an arrangement with them that they would split the profits with them. That they would keep running the farm and they would split the profits. Both of them were bachelors. And at, in fact, they found out they could make more money by working in the shipyard rather than farming. So because of that, probably the farm probably wasn't kept up as much as it could be and the house was maybe pretty messy when we got back, but other than that it was in pretty good shape and all that stuff. So, that was one of the reasons. And I'm sure my mother had a real tug for that place, since it was the place from her childhood and her grandfather owned it and so forth. So I think, I think she even said my father wanted to sell it when we had to leave and she told him no, that she wanted to keep it. Because she said when this war was over we had to have a place to come back to. So I assume she prevailed and we, and they made this arrangement instead.

LH: So let me ask. Why was it that some Bainbridge Islanders returned and not the others?

FK: I think for various reasons. Of course, one was that you couldn't own land in those days unless you were a citizen. And, and land laws, alien land laws had been set up specifically, I think specifically for the Japanese since they were a certain threat, especially to the farming industry as far as becoming more proficient in farming and taking arid land and making it fertile and so forth. So, unless you were a citizen you couldn't own land. The only way you could own land, was if your kids were born in the United States and were old enough to legally have the farm in their names. And that was the case of my mother's, my mother's name. So because of that, some people had nothing to come back to because they were leasing land. So they lost that. There were a few people that actually sold their places when they left because there was, they couldn't figure out a way to keep track of it, or pay their taxes, or stay with it. There were a few people that actually had purchased land under someone else's name, who had the people sell the place without telling them. And they couldn't do anything about it since it, the property was actually under the other person's name, although they were the ones that were paying to purchase it.

LH: And so they lost everything.

FK: Yeah, so they lost, they lost everything. So I think it varied. But, and also there were cases where some of the families had their children move (to the) midwest or back east to go to school. And since the parents didn't have anything to come back to here, they actually went to where the kids were. And in a lot of ways, the concentration camp period was one of the reasons why we were disseminated across the United States and rather just on the West Coast.

LH: I see.

FK: Because I think a good, maybe a little over 90% of us were probably on the West Coast when the internment period started. So, I think most of the time if you go (to) some place like in Chicago, you'll find a lot of people that have their roots back to the Northwest.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

LH: So as far as your parents, did they just pick up right where they left off?

FK: Yeah, pretty much so. I think my mom started running the farm and my father... borrowed that money to get his jewelry store, from the Friedlander's. I know he started out with a real small jewelry store on, it was Main Street, I'm pretty sure. And then after being there for a while, then he borrowed more money and built this jewelry store on 617 Jackson Street, which was under the Bush Hotel. And so he commuted every day, back and forth, to Seattle. He worked in the jewelry store six days a week and on Sundays he would help out on the farm, and my mother would run the farm. She was a pretty amazing woman in a lot of ways because she...

LH: Can you describe what that means to you?

FK: Oh well, I thought she was very innovative because she would, she would -- she started out with strawberries and was having a hard time getting pickers and decided, "Well, I'll just change to raspberries, because the raspberry season comes after the strawberry season so I should be able to pick up pickers from strawberries who were, who don't want to go back up to Canada and stay around here," so, she started doing raspberries. Then she decided, "Well we've got this creek on our farm, so I can start irrigating," so she got all the permits and stuff to, to dam up this creek and then started irrigating the plants, so she was less at, at mercy of the, of the weather as far as with raspberries. And she said also, we have less problems with rot on the vine because her raspberries were off the ground and stuff. And then after a lot of years of raspberry farming -- you have to rotate your crops about every seven years and stuff -- so then she decided, "Well, it's getting harder and harder to get raspberry pickers, I'll just plant Christmas trees," so she took the raspberries out and planted Christmas trees. And then, so she had Christmas trees for a long time...

LH: Were there any other Christmas trees being planted?

FK: There weren't as, there weren't. I'm sure there were other Christmas trees being planted, but on the Island there weren't very many Christmas trees that were, farms that were that big. And then -- consequently there (were) other people (who) planted Christmas trees and done it that way too -- but then, when she got to where she thought it was getting too hard to do Christmas trees, she said, "Oh, we'll just let it go back to woods and maybe matsutake would come back." [Laughs] So I thought, Oh well... she was a very interesting woman. I know, I know we had a lot of... Canadian Native Americans, who came down to pick and a lot of them have pretty fond memories of her. And I know there were times when... sometimes there would be trouble at the cabins and some of the men would be fighting, and my mother would always tell my father not to go, that she would go. She's, her reasoning was no way they would hit this woman who's so diminutive, 4' 10" and weighs less than 100 pounds. So she would go, 'cause she knew if my father would, they would, somebody would get mad and start a big fight or something. So she would go and take care of it. [Laughs] And I'm going, "Goll... I don't know if I could, I could do that."

LH: She's a brave woman.

FK: Yeah, because she just knew that that's what she had to do. And it was... and she was right. No one ever, ever got mad at her, or tried to hit or anything like that. She just, she just went over there and took care of it. [Laughs]

LH: You know this really sounds like quite something, for a Nisei woman... she's a little bit, one of the older Niseis too.

FK: Yeah, right.

LH: And she'd been trained in Japan.

FK: Right.

LH: So, gee. She handled things very well.

FK: I always wonder how my mother and father only went through 6th grade and how, how come they knew so much more than I did. [Laughs] But, I guess it was, it was just the years, I don't know... but they seemed to be a lot wiser than I was, so...

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

LH: Well, speaking of school...

FK: Yeah.

LH: Okay, so you settled back here in your house, and eventually have to start going to school...

FK: Right.

LH: And you're about how old, you're six or so?

FK: I was six. I went into first grade. (When) I had gotten (bad), I went to kindergarten while I was in Minidoka. So when we came back (I) went to first grade, and that was an experience too.

LH: Can I just ask you, if we could just go back to that Minidoka experience? Because you had told me, you related a story to me that I'd liked before about your kindergarten in Minidoka. Just to contrast between kindergarten in Minidoka and what you experienced on Bainbridge. Can you tell me about that in Minidoka?

FK: I don't remember that much about kindergarten in Minidoka, other than my mother saved my report card. And, and I saw my report card and I noticed I had a "U" in citizenship which was...

LH: What does a "U" mean?

FK: A "U" means unsatisfactory. And the comment, at the bottom of the report card, was this is a very aggressive kid. [Laughs] So, I don't know whether I was terrorizing the rest of the kids in kindergarten or what, but I got a "U" in that and, and I got "U" in something else. I think it was being attentive or something. But also, the teacher's comment at the bottom of the page said something about Kazu, that was what I was called at that time, Kazu had leadership qualities. And I go, "Oh!" [Laughs] I might have been not very civil, but... [Laughs]

LH: Even at that young age. [Laughs]

FK: I must have had some sort of assertiveness. [Laughs]

LH: She recognized your abilities.

FK: I suppose so. It was nice of her to put a nice comment along with the other one. I thought I was terrorizing the rest of the kids probably. [Laughs]

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

LH: So, let me take you to first grade...

FK: Okay.

LH: On Bainbridge...

FK: Um...

LH: And when you returned from the war...

FK: Yeah.

LH: Were you apprehensive at all, at all about going to school?

FK: Well I think so. I, I don't, again, I don't have that much recollections of it, other than I remember... I remember we changed our names. I became Frank, which was also, it was, it was my given name, but I never used it before. Before that I was either called Kazu or Yoshikazu, and my sister Yuriko became Lilly, and Hideko became Francis, and Chiseko became Jane. And they were again names that we had on birth certificates because our parents gave us English and Japanese names, but they were names we hadn't used up to then. And then my, surmising now is that our parents thought it was really important that we be as American as we could be. So we were not going to any longer use our Japanese names, but we were going to use our American names.

LH: Well was that a strange adjustment?

FK: I think it was for awhile. You had to get used to being, doing that, but it didn't take very long. I think kids adjust pretty quickly. I must have, I don't remember having any problems as far as...

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

LH: Frank, can you tell me a little bit about what your grade school experience was like back on Bainbridge Island?

FK: I don't have any recollections of having a tough time with English. So I think we must have, spoken English most the time we were in Minidoka. I do remember a couple of my neighbors who actually went to Moses Lake, because they were able to leave the Island before they rescinded that order, that if you got off the Island in time, you didn't have to be evacuated or sent, or interned. When they came to the Island and entered first grade, I think they had a tough time with English. They didn't understand English very well and didn't speak very much English. I remember trying to help them with instructions and stuff, because I understood Japanese a little bit. I probably understood more Japanese then, than I do now. And in fact I remember once, this teacher telling me that I had to quit doing things for them, because they had to be able to speak for themselves. And I thought, and felt a little hurt about that, but then I thought, "Well, that's true." [Laughs]

So, so I tried to cool myself down there for a little while, instead of jumping in and trying to help them with stuff. And I, and I thought that was very true. And in fact, that's interesting, because I kind of remembered that for a long time... that you just don't jump in and do things for people if you're gonna, if they want to, you know develop themselves or... and you can't assume that you just know what's, what they're thinking and doing. Yeah. And I remember, I remember the three of us getting in the wrong line once after recess and ending up in a 4th grade class. And we kind of knew we were in the wrong line, but we didn't know quite what to do with it. [Laughs] So we went to this 4th grade class and the teacher there looked at us and obviously she knew we didn't belong there, I mean we looked different. [Laughs] So she had to figure out where we were supposed to go and I remember that. [Laughs]

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

LH: Well when you came, when you came out of camp -- now that you mentioned looking different -- when you came out of camp, you said that in hindsight, you wanted to be as American as possible. Now was that an easy thing to do at Bainbridge, at the elementary school on Bainbridge Island?

FK: Oh, I'll tell ya... I think all the way through my schooling on Bainbridge High School, all the way through grade school through high school... I kind of felt like, that I really wasn't American. That I really had to really try hard to be American, because I don't remember getting anything at school about Japanese being American, or... I mean everything I learned in school was European-centered. I mean we learned about the Crusades, that was Europe. We learned about the Statue of Liberty, that was Europe. We learned about the Pilgrims, that was European. There just wasn't anything, anytime we studied, anytime we studied the Orient it was a foreign country. It was about silk being grown in a foreign country, that kind of stuff. And it was, so anytime we studied anything that might have to do with me, it was, it wasn't U.S. history, it was world history or something else. And at the same time, you knew America was what it was supposed to be, as far as freedom, and, and everybody being equal and being treated equal and so forth. So it was very difficult if anything happened, where if somebody didn't like me or if something happened to me, to be able to say to myself they didn't like me or they didn't treat me the same way as everybody else because I was different. Because you couldn't, I couldn't say to myself that the United States was that way, and people here would be that discriminating.

So it, but if you can't do that, if you can't say to yourself that people were treating you differently because of the way you look, then the only other alternative (you have) is they're treating you differently or treating you badly because you're a bad person. And, and that becomes real difficult. Because if you have to say to yourself they're treating you differently because of the way you look, and it's real frustrating because you feel like they can't do anything about that. So I tended to kinda push that to the background and tried to be as American as I could be. And, and at the same time, kinda doing a lot of wishing that I was American and wondering why in the world anybody would want to make me Japanese and why I had this big disadvantage of being Japanese. I know some kids had a tough time, with having their, with having their friends come over and meet their parents because they felt their parents were so different, so (they) tended not to have kids come over or, or to be embarrassed if their kids were doing something that, or if their parents are doing something that didn't seem very American. And I don't know if I ever really had that feeling, but at the same time, I know a lot of people did. But I know I had that feeling about myself that I wished I was, that I was not Japanese.

LH: So do you think that meant to you that you tried to push aside anything Japanese in your heritage?

FK: Yeah, yeah, I think so. I think at home I was okay, if we ate Japanese food and stuff like that. But if we went anywhere else, I tried to be as American as I could be.

LH: In what ways did you show that?

FK: There certainly was no way I was going to tell anybody about the things we did at home, that were Japanese-y.

LH: Did you yourself tell your friends about camp?

FK: No, uh huh, in fact I. No, I didn't. I never talked about camp or became interested about the process we went through 'til after I got through college. And, sometimes I wonder, if the things we are doing now are actually helping our kids. Because you never know, because most of them, most of them don't get interested in this stuff until they get older. In fact that seems to be the case with a lot of the generation now. Although, it's interesting to me, because my son got his double degree in ethnic studies -- and they didn't even have ethnic studies when I went to school -- and economics. But then, I think he took every ethnic study he could, class he could find. I'm going, "Gosh we must have had some effect on him because he's doing that." So I, and I feel he's probably more grounded on who he is as a person, as a person of Japanese ancestry, than I was ever until I got to of college. So I, I feel like we're doing, we must be doing something, otherwise that probably wouldn't have happened.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

LH: So during the time when you were in school, all the way up from elementary to high school, you wanted to be as American as possible? And, now when did you start to feel uncomfortable... well, when did you feel like you wanted to learn more about being Japanese or being Japanese American?

FK: Oh gosh. Well, let me go back to my high school time too again. I remember going to dances and asking certain girls if they would dance, and they'd say no. And I remember, or offering people rides and them telling me no. And I'm going, "Oh, there must be something wrong with me that they're saying no." And, and at the same time, I remember I took the senior class president to the Senior Ball who was, and she was Caucasian and she was a very special person. And she still is, I mean, I still know her and stuff but she was a very special person. But I couldn't say to myself at that time, that it's possible that they weren't, that they didn't want to go anywhere with, didn't want, didn't want me to give them a ride, or didn't want to dance with me because of the, because I was Japanese. I mean there was no way I could say that.

And I guess when I got to college, certain things would happen to me that they made me very aware that here, I was in a, a situation where it wasn't the same as on Bainbridge. I mean the same things could have been happening on Bainbridge, but no one would overtly would say things. But I remember one of my college friends, Caucasian friends, in the dorms being really upset one day because he saw this Japanese guy studying at the library with this Caucasian girl. And the first thing, that came out of his mouth was, "I bet he's screwing her." And I said to myself... and then my other friend, Ed Picket who was another Caucasian friend who's passed away said, "Sid, that's stupid. Why could you say a stupid thing like that?" He said, "What if that Japanese guy was Frank?" And Sid said, "Well, that would be different 'cause I know Frank." You see, but the same, immediately the light bulb that lit in my (mind) was, you know, people who don't know me, who just look at me can think a certain way about me just because of the way I look.

And then, and then, I remember going to a lab school in Pacific Grove because we, I was working with the University Congregational Church at that time with youth groups and they sent us off to lab school for a week for training. And I remember, a Caucasian woman coming up to me after the camp and saying, "You know, this is the first time I've ever spent any significant time with anybody who's Japanese and you know, you're just like everybody else." And it floored me, not because, particularly, that she said that, but then I realized that I spent this whole week in camp, at this lab camp, and I'd forgotten I was Japanese. I didn't realize that I was Japanese, until she said to me, exactly what she said. And then it became obvious for I, that God, I can try to be as white as I can, but there was no way I was going to make it.

LH: Well it's interesting, were you trying to be as white as you could be?

FK: Oh, I think so. You know, 'cause I, 'cause it was, there was no way I was interested in my Japanese background... there was no way of... and I wanted to be... fit in. And I wanted to be popular, and it seemed up to then, that I was doing a pretty good job of it.

LH: So...

FK: But then it became more obvious after a while, that no matter what I did, I wouldn't be seen, I'd always be seen as a Japanese person. And that didn't make me feel very good. So I, so I since then I knew that I needed to find out more about myself and my background, in order for me to feel more comfortable with myself, because that is what was making it difficult for me.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

LH: So at that point, when you're a dental student, you, you felt uncomfortable when people said or thought that you were Japanese before they, knowing you as a person.

FK: I don't know if I'd specifically say that. I was still into a lot of stuff. I mean I was like, I was in the SAIYUK Leadership Society at the dorms and I was actually elected president of our, of our dorms. So, so I was still into a lot of stuff and doing a lot of things and...

LH: In some way did you, did you feel that being Japanese was less than being Caucasian?

FK: Than being Caucasian... I, I assume I did. Otherwise I wouldn't had this struggle to try to be someone else than I really was. The problem with, the problem with... my, and not that long ago I went to a... I was, we were real fortunate to be able to have Gerald Jampolsky, who's a medical physician that works with kids who have AIDS and gives free clinics for kids that have AIDS, gave us a course. And he said, "You know what the opposite of hate is?" And of course, since I know all the answers, I said... I mean, I'm sorry, "what the opposite of love is?" And of course, since I knew all the answers, I said, "Well, the opposite of love is hate." And he said, "No, that really isn't what it is, it's really fear." He said that when we're afraid of what's going to happen to us, or afraid for ourselves, we can't love someone else because we're too busy either protecting ourselves or building an, building an image that you want other people to see. So, and that's, that's kind of when you look at it, why certain things happen. Maybe even why we were put in concentration camp. Because the fear was so great at that time, of people who felt like they had to do something with us because they were afraid.

And, and I can see where, where it, I certainly wasn't free to care or love for someone else if I was spending all my time trying to be somebody who I really wasn't and, and maybe I... I was also real fortunate that there were some real significant, leaders in the church that I was associated with, as far as with the youth groups. I mean, they were really neat, youth group ministers and lab teachers and so forth, who were, who were very... sensitive as far as, what ever it meant to care for someone else and so forth. But it isn't particularly because they were religious, it was just stuff that really made sense to me. So, and, and I still have problems with, with people who have a, a certain specific definition of Christianity as far as doing good and doing that kind of stuff because I, I don't think that's where it's really at. I really feel it's more a chance to feel... free and know who you are, and be able to help other people. And maybe it's kind of a Buddhist definition of Christianity. Which it seems kind of funny, but... but 'cause, 'cause, the more I become aware of what Buddhism is, I'm thinking that's probably closer to my roots. But at that same time, there's an aspect of Christianity that really fits in as far as, as far as, that type of stuff too.

LH: So this was an influence on you...

FK: Yes.

LH: At that time when you were going to the University of Washington.

FK: To the UW. That I really fell into... I'd, I'd gone to the Congregational Church on the Island and, and I'd worked with some youth groups and stuff, and I just kind of fell into... and I'd gone to summer camps for, I was an advisor there. So I kind of fell into knowing some of the people at the UW, and they were looking for youth group leaders and stuff, so I just happened to fall into that. That obviously had a greater influence on me than I probably had on them, as far as, making me feel like I could be okay just by being who I was. So, and in that sense... that was helpful to me. I spent a lot of time in churches and youth groups, and in the last few years -- I shouldn't say the last few years, I should maybe the last twenty years -- I haven't gone at all. So, [Laughs] so, and I, I don't know what that means. Maybe I, I decided that I had to take what I got in church and then start using it, rather than just going to church. I don't know what it is, but I haven't, so... but I still have that strong feeling of how it really helped me.

LH: I see, I see.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

LH: Can I ask you a little more about your experience at the U? Well, how did you decide that you wanted to become a dentist?

FK: I went into, I was in pre-med and I think I, I had a choice between, in my mind I had a choice, between engineering or pre-med and I think my father preferred that I go into medicine. I think he probably thought it had some prestige and stuff. And I started out in medicine and I just, the more I thought about it, I thought, well I don't know if I really want to spend that many years. So, I switched to dentistry. And I, I got to admit that I don't know, that I didn't know, anything about one or the other, but I'm glad I chose the field. Mostly because, I'm not a very traditional dentist, I'm more into holistic things in dentistry, which is really a real new field. So...

LH: Well at the time, did you have anybody to guide you? To tell you... any Japanese dentists in the community that were...?

FK: There, there were a few dentists, like my own dentist was Dr. Uchida and he wrote a letter for me. And I think the... two brothers were orthodontists, the Takano brothers -- one in fact taught at the school -- who wrote letters for me, and that's mostly because they didn't really know me, but they knew my father, which got me into dental school. And it was, it was a tough school, it was a real tough school. And again, I just, sometimes you feel like you don't really know what you're doing, but somebody up there must be telling you what to do or guiding you a certain way, because I would not be very happy if I practiced as a traditional dentist. But in a, a, alternative care dentistry and helping people with their... being healthy, which isn't the same as having your teeth filled. It's, it's, I mean, I'm, I'm... it's interesting, because I used to think my father used to do dumb things. He used to do things like yaitou copper bracelets, he did, he came home one day and decided he was going to make tofu and I thought, God, who would eat that stuff. [Laughs] Now, everybody's eating tofu and everybody believes in magnets and stuff. But he... but it's interesting now, because I'm getting that kind of stuff in my practice. I'm interested in...

LH: Do you think it was based on influence from your father?

FK: I don't have the slightest, because he had to be up there someplace influencing me. Because I'm doing things like working with acupuncture meridians and that kind of stuff. And I'm going, "Wow, maybe my dad wasn't so dumb after all." [Laughs]

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

LH: So you're a kid that started out on a farm... and now you've graduated from the U with a degree in dental surgery...

FK: Uh huh.

LH: Practicing here on the Island?

FK: Right.

LH: So you've settled here on Bainbridge Island.

FK: Yeah.

LH: Raised your family.

FK: Right.

LH: And you have a son.

FK: Right.

LH: Derek. And so do you ever talk to him about your life experience at, with camp, etc. and your involvement with the Japanese American community?

FK: Well, he knows I'm really heavily involved with the Japanese American community. As far as, really sitting down and talking to him about it... I remember once he had to do a project for school and I don't, I think that it was, I can't remember if it was high school or college, but he had to interview me. So he did do that and he learned some things out. But I think he learned the most about me indirectly, in that I had to go talk to his class once, at the UW. And I gave a slide presentation and lecture there and I, he probably found out some things about me that he just never knew, and he probably never would have unless he was in that class. [Laughs] So I don't think the, I don't think the teacher even knew that he was in the class, because I don't think he said anything. [Laughs] So it's kind of interesting. [Laughs]

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

LH: Frank, did you ever talk to your son Derek about your own life experience with the camp and resettlement?

FK: I don't think I specifically ever sat down and talked to him about it. I, I think I, he did have to do an interview once with your parents and that, I talked to him some then. But I think probably, the time he probably found out the most about me, is when I went to his class at the UW and gave my slide presentation and talked to them about some of the history and background at that time.

LH: And what sort of slide presentation was this?

FK: It's about the Bainbridge Island experience. It's about... I like to call it American history from a different perspective, but I also give a lot of personal things. I talked to them about, the class, about my first real serious girlfriend who was -- when I was a, I think I must have been a sophomore at the UW -- and how I brought her over to my dad's jewelry store to meet my dad. And my dad, I knew my dad was a little concerned because she wasn't Japanese, and but I could tell he liked her. And then after a while, she said to me one day that she couldn't see me any more because her parents told her she couldn't see me, because I was Japanese and, and...

LH: May I ask what race she was?

FK: Yeah, she was Chinese. And, how painful that was for me, because it was the first girl I was real serious about. And how after she told me that she cried and I wanted to cry too, but I just wouldn't let myself cry. And how I wanted her to... it's like the movies, you wanted her to say, "Well my parents don't count, you're more important to me," and all that kind of stuff... but she just couldn't do that. So, but that was a pretty painful situation and I remember, having that pain for quite a while. And again, it's, it's again because of who you are, and not particularly who you are as a person, but because of the way, that you're Japanese.

LH: Had you ever met her parents?

FK: Yeah, sure. Yeah. I'd been to her house and stuff before that. She was actually a classmate of my cousin in high school, so that's kind of how I met her.

LH: Yeah, so when you were talking with Derek about some of your experiences in, in college or in school, what, what are some other experiences you were able to tell him about?

FK: Well again, I don't think I've ever really sat down personally with him and talked about it. Most of the time when I do sit down and talk about it, it's because there's a problem and I think he senses that and he probably, he doesn't really want to hear it. I remember his most common comment at that time, probably was, "Well that's the way they used to do it in the old days." [Laughs] And he's probably right. These are different times and stuff. So I, I probably never really sat down and talked about my background or history, personally.

LH: I see.

FK: Personally, I probably still haven't done that.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

LH: So for yourself, what was it that got you going and starting to look into your own background?

FK: Again, I think it was because of my concern for him. And also the concern for other kids, that are kids of color. And especially, specifically Japanese who, I feel, felt were going to be going through the same stuff that I did when I was in school... not knowing about their background and so forth. I mean, no one told me that on Bainbridge Island that we had been here since 1883. If there was a cleared piece of land on the Island, it was probably cleared by a Japanese American farmer, who did cutting down the trees and pulling out the stumps with his horses, or blowing it up with dynamite. Heck, I can remember Kay Sakai saying that it used to be embarrassing to her, because her father was clearing land right next to the high school here and she, every time she heard the dynamite go off, she knew it was her father. And that, it's true... almost every piece of land on the Island that was cleared at that time, was cleared by the Japanese American farmer. And, and all the cherry trees that were around the school, no one ever told me that the Japanese planted those.

So I had no sense of, of the history of the Japanese here on the Island. I remember once... they were gonna' -- not that long ago, maybe 10-15 years ago -- they were going to have a Strawberry Festival parade, and they contacted me because they wanted all the ethnic groups to have floats in the parade. And so they wanted the Native-Americans to have a Native-American float, and they wanted the Japanese to have a Japanese American float and so on and so forth. And then the Caucasians were going to do this float, and they were going to call theirs the pioneers. And I thought, "Gee, you know, our fathers, grandfathers were pioneers too..." and, they don't see things that way. So, no one ever told me that we'd been here that long and had done all this stuff on the Island, and so forth. So it became obvious to me after a while, that unless something was done differently in this community, our kids would have the same problems of not knowing who they were and not feeling that good about themselves, and so forth. So, it became really important to me to do that.

LH: So, at what point in your life did you decide to do this?

FK: After I got out of college, after I was a dentist. Maybe after I'd been in practice, after I got married maybe about three years. Actually we started the project in 1983... so, that would have been a hundred years after the first Japanese on the Island and it would have been... gosh, so I, I started dental practice in '65, so that's quite a few years, almost, almost twenty years before I really got interested in this stuff.

LH: And so this was not just a personal interest, but a group activity?

FK: Yeah. But I think a lot of it was probably was driven by, by... the two or three of us, who really felt like it was something that was really important.

LH: Oh, I see. Who were, who was the group?

FK: Oh, it was me and it was Ron Nakata, who's a Sansei about twenty years younger than I am and, and John Sakai, who was about the same age as Ron. John dropped out after awhile, but Ron and I just kept after him. And then Don Nakata, who is Ron's cousin and five years older than I am and Junkoh Harui is about six years older than I am, became the driving forces for us to gather this stuff, so...

LH: And you, you said earlier that there was some reaction in the community?

FK: Oh yeah. Yeah. No one, you could just feel the tension when we brought it up. People just didn't want to do it. They just really didn't want to do it.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

LH: And what were you trying to accomplish at that point?

FK: What our mission has always been, that there was something that we felt was really important for our kids. That they need to know who they were, so we were doing this for the sake of them, and that they had a better idea of who they were and about our background, that they would feel more comfortable with being Japanese Americans or Americans of Japanese descent. So when we finally started this project though, we decided we were going to do a book. So we started taking, getting oral histories. We got a lot of help from people who had worked with the Suquamish Tribe for their stuff. And we were real fortunate, that we had a lot of people that volunteered their time to help us and train us and tell us what to do as far as interviewing and oral histories. We had some people who had been trained in that area to help us out and so forth. So...

LH: So were the, were the Bainbridge Island Isseis or Niseis reluctant to talk to you at first?

FK: Yeah. Also though they, we had, like my cousin Hisa had done some taping with some Isseis. In fact, most of the taping was done in Japanese, so it was, [Laughs] to find people to translate it to get on, [Laughs] get it on paper. But, and then we started systematically going through who was the oldest and trying to catch people that way. There's some people who refused to be interviewed, and there's still people that have refused to be interviewed. There's some people who... say they always get misinterpreted, so they don't want to be interviewed and so forth. At the same time, when I start talking with them, I wish I had a tape recorder hidden, hidden under my shirt because they can't stop, once they start. But they just don't want to be put on record. And they, they tell amazing stories that I've never heard of before. But they, they just don't want to be interviewed, and that still exists. But at the same time, we found the more we got into this, back in '83 up to now, that the more the people felt more comfortable in doing that. And then, and eventually, almost everybody that was contributing to the project really felt like it was really worth while, because they saw the results of what we were doing. We started with a book and ended up with a photo exhibit, because we could get funding for a photo exhibit and we couldn't get it for a book, so... now...

LH: And that would be...

FK: Yeah.

LH: The one that is called Kodomo No Tame Ni.

FK: Kodomo No Tame Ni, For The Sake Of The Children. And then now, we have a, an interview with University Press to convert the photo exhibit into a book. So, we're trying to do that and trying to add some things. And actually the idea we have is to... intersperse among the photo exhibit by chapters or whatever, the different sayings that the Isseis used to say, and how that relates to our background. And we're going to have to change the name of the book because it there's already a book called Kodomo No Tame Ni from Hawaii. So...

LH: Oh, I see.

FK: So we're gonna call it Gaman. And...

LH: Can you explain a little bit about that saying?

FK: Well like, like persevere, shikata ga nai -- I always had trouble pronouncing Japanese words - [Laughs] or gaman or all those words that they, they tell you... to be strong or... things can't be helped, so do what you can... that kind of stuff. Those are things that probably will get lost, but at that the same time, they really shape us, because they're things that the Isseis passed onto the Niseis. And although the Niseis might not have said the same words, they kind of instill that in their third generation kids about how, how you react to certain things and how you do certain things. So there are times probably when the future generations will know why they act like they do. But it's because these things have been passed on, not particularly genetically, but just because it's reactions and behavior that people do. So we feel like if we can get people to understand it, there'll be a better understanding of what's going on and, and... it was interesting because Ron, who's one of the guys who started this project with me, one day when we were all talking about camp experiences, came up with a... "You know," he said "you know I really envy you guys for going to concentration camp."

LH: Well then...

FK: And I thought, oh gee, why would he say that? [Laughs]

LH: That's an unusual thing to say.

FK: Yeah. And he said, "You know, you guys have gone through a common experience and a real hardship. And you made it through and you were able to, in most cases overcome that and, and get on with (your) life and do things." And he said, "But you know, when I sit here listening to you guys talk, you guys have a bond. You have a bond, a common bond and a feeling that you wouldn't get unless you went through this experience together." He says, "I really envy you guys because I was too young to go through that." And I thought, that's true. There's always, I always believe there's always a yin, a yang. There's always a plus and a minus to everything that happens in life. That if something's really good, there maybe something you have to look at the other side and say well there might be something else going on with that. You try not to dwell on that and at the same time, if something bad happens, there's always another side to that, too. There's always something that balances. And I, and I feel like that's the way I want to lead my life... that there's got to be a balance between things. And, and he's right... it was an awful experience and it was really hardship, but at the same time -- wow. There's really something there that could really make you feel closeness. I remember...

LH: So.

FK: Yeah, go ahead.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

LH: Oh, excuse me. For the, for the Bainbridge Island Japanese Community now, well, your organization is, is, is that what evolved into BIJAC or...?

FK: Yeah.

LH: Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.

FK: Yeah. The Bainbridge Island Japanese... it used to be called the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Club. And some of us thought club didn't quite say what we wanted to say since we, it was incorporated right after the war. Sometime in the, sometime in the late '40s. And when we revived it in '83, we actually redid the constitution and redid the purpose of it, to more of a historical thing where we did our background plus wanting to share that with the population at large. So, so it's been a group that's been around for a while. But it's... the emphasis and the focus has been different since '83, as far as getting away from helping ourselves to maybe more finding out about ourselves and sharing that with the rest of the community at large.

LH: I see.

FK: Yeah.

LH: And some of the works that your organization does are? Could you explain what those would be?

FK: Oh, it would be like, well, the photo project we did. When we, that was the Washington Humanities commission and... it was $35,000 to do the photo project. So, we raised half the money and we got the other half with contributed time, in kind, I mean with a matching grant from the Humanities commission. We do a teriyaki dinner every year and that's... we (have) the Kokon Taiko's come and play at that, and the Peninsula Women's Group will do dances at that. And we have two servings. It's our main fund-raiser. There was a Japanese man that came from L.A. once, and I don't really know who he was, but he, he was there and he said, "This is amazing." And I said, "Why is this amazing?" I said, "Don't you guys have stuff like this too?" And he said, "Yeah." He said, "We do, but we don't have 7/8ths of the crowd here being Caucasian." And, and that's, and essentially, it's really good for the Japanese community because everybody works on it. I mean we have probably over a hundred people that volunteer to work on it, and they may never show up for anything else but this dinner. But most of the people that come are Caucasians from the community, and that's probably because the rest of us are working on it. But in order for it to be successful, it has to be the rest of the community. And they really enjoy coming to it and...

LH: They support it?

FK: They support it, so... and I think that does a lot too, as far as that goes. And then we have the mochitsuki every year.

LH: And can you tell me what that is?

FK: It's making mochi, which is the, I think Japanese people know what mochi is. But it's mostly the rice and sometimes you put an inside, put the brown bean stuff inside, but it's... the old fashioned way is to pound it with mallets. You cook it on, it's, I get, think it's called sweet rice and you cook it over, in wooden crates over an open fire. One of the men actually reconstructed the (stuff) out of old wash tubs, the fire thing. And you cut out the hole (where) you put this big wash tub on top of that and somebody still had the wooden crates that you, with the, with the wooden bamboo stuff in the bottom, and you put the rice in and you cook it and you keep changing the layers. And so we do that and we hand pound. One of the guys had a granite mortar type thing that they used to use. And, it was something they used to do before the war a lot, here on the Island. They used to have New Year's celebrations for good luck and prosperity and stuff. And people would actually go to each other's houses and have meals and dinners and stuff and drink some sake and so forth, and that was a way of them sharing things together and celebrating. And so one day, one of the guys said, "Well why don't we just go ahead and try and make the mochi again?" So we've, we've done it now for, maybe eight years.

LH: That's great.

FK: We also have machines there. So, people get a chance to see the modern way of doing it, plus the, the old fashioned way and then... but it's fun, because the kids... come and they actually roll the stuff, and make the mochi and all this. And the ones made by hand look a little coarser, but everybody has really a lot of fun doing it. And we usually have a potluck and share a meal after that.

LH: Boy that's great.

FK: Yeah.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

FK: We also have reunion picnics and we invite, we try to send invitations out to anybody who's ever lived on the Island, especially before the war and things. And sometimes we get a big response and sometimes we get a little response, but it's kind of like having, everybody brings their own bentou, and then we have games for the kids and things like that.

LH: Bentou, box lunch?

FK: No, everybody just brings their own food.

LH: I see.

FK: Sometimes we throw it all together and everybody eats together, sometimes families just sit together and do it that way. It's just the way we thought that we can get people to come back who've been off the Island for a while, just to renew times together and so forth. So sometimes we get people to come from far away and sometimes we don't. Sometimes we have 400 people there, sometimes we have 200 people there, so. It's just, it's just a good way to do things... yeah.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

LH: Let me ask you, you're a professional man, you can choose to move around the country and practice wherever you'd like. Why, why do you choose to be here on Bainbridge?

FK: It must be my karma. [Laughs] I don't know... it's, it's, when I first got out of dental school, I looked around, I, in fact I wasn't thinking about coming to the Island at all. And I looked around, mostly in Seattle, tried to practice there and while I was looking around, this guy was already practicing on the Island, contact, contacted me and said you know, you want to buy my building because I'm going, to be going to work for Group Health. And he was going to semi-retire and all this stuff. And I thought, oh, you know I never thought about working on the Island. And people tell you to, never to go home, because everybody knows you and they don't (pay their bills), and all this kind of stuff. So, well, I really can't pass that up. So, he didn't sell me his practice, but he sold me the building here. And when I said yes to that, I found out two other guys were looking at the Bainbridge, at Bainbridge in my class and were really upset when I decide to, to buy the guy's building. And it just never dawned on me that people would even think about wanting to come to the Island. But I, it was a choice that probably wasn't made by chance, it just happened.

But, sometimes I think things happen because they're supposed to happen. And I'm, and I've... I've always felt like, gosh, my life would be so different had I lived someplace else. I would never have gotten involved, learning about my history and my own background, and, and being able to do this. So, I wouldn't, probably would not, trade this place for the world. It's just, it's interesting because most everybody who goes through high school here wants to get off the "rock." They want to move off and go someplace else. And, but when they get to where they have kids they feel like oh, this is a good place to raise kids, so they come back here. But at the same time, this Island is very... it's not like the very, real world. You know, it's...

LH: In what way?

FK: Multiculturally... it, it's mostly Caucasian. The only people that are of color here, are people that have been here for a long time, like the Japanese or the Filipinos or the Mestizos, which are Filipinos that married Canadian Natives. And we have a few Blacks, but not very many. And I, and I really think, like maybe that might have been because it was desired to be that way. I think we sometimes talk to Blacks about moving to the Island, they just laugh because it was, it was kind of an unwritten thing you don't come here. And it may not be as true now, as it was there. So it, so it's not like the real world here for our kids. And because of that, it's makes some unique situations, as far as multiculturally. And it makes it, that in a lot of ways you have to work with that, because a lot of the kids here are real sheltered from the real world as far as, not becoming involved with a more multicultural world, which is really the way the world is.

My firm belief is that multicultural education is not for just kids of color, but it's for majority kids as well, because they're the ones who are most likely going to end up with leadership roles in our country. And I'll show a slide to the kids, in it that has, when, little girls and little boys of different color and I always ask them, "Who do you think is going to be, have the best chance of being President?" And they'll pick the white male. And that's true because he's the person that's probably going to be a, the head of a corporation or head of government or whatever. And...

LH: And what do you say to that?

FK: Huh?

LH: What do you tell the kids?

FK: I say, I say to them, Well, you know, in order for you to be effective as a leader, you have to feel real comfortable working with diversity. And you have to work, and you have to be able to feel like it's a plus and it's okay. 'Cause if you don't, this, this world is really changing, you know, our nation is changing. Even the Hispanics are now the majority in California. There are more women getting in the work force. There's a significant amount of people that are getting in the work force that are people of color. And that if you're the person in power and you're a white male or a white person, then the only real effective leader is a leader who not only has power but also has responsibility. It's when you don't have the two things together that you really run into problems. That's when you get the Hitlers and the Husseins of the, Saddam Husseins of the world because you have power, but you don't have the responsibilities. So in order for you to feel comfortable with working with people of diversity and color, you're the ones who really need the multicultural education. So, and I don't know how they feel about that, but I really firmly believe that, that's it's not only for kids of color, but it's for everybody. Because they're the ones who make things happen, and they're the people who shape the world because they make the decisions.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

LH: So not only do you work on, not only do you work on the Bainbridge Island Japanese Community Projects, but you're speaking on your own to these kids groups?

FK: Yeah. Not only, not particularly just by myself, there are others community members that will go with me sometimes. But usually I show the slides and do the lecture and then they help answer questions.

LH: Oh, but this is as part of BIJAC?

FK: Well sort of...

LH: Sort of.

FK: Yeah, I mean. I do pretty much on my own and on my own time and stuff. But it's something, it's something that I really, it's a passion for me as far as doing that, because I, most of the kids there and most of the teachers there have, have so very little knowledge about that aspect of American history, of, of what happened to us and so forth. And, and if they do, it's more either what they read, they haven't really talked to anybody that's been through it. And that's when it's nice to have older people to come with me because they've, they've got a, real personal experiences as far as they can, it's not only hearsay or memory, but it's, it's also things they've actually gone through. So, it's nice to have them come, but... yeah.

LH: Now, was the, you do this locally just on Bainbridge or do you travel?

FK: I've done it on Bainbridge, I've done it in Edmonds School District, North Seattle. I've done it in Steilacoom down by Tacoma. I did once at Seattle U. I did it once at the University of Washington. So it varies. It's just depends who calls me and if I have time.

LH: I see, I see.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

LH: Well you know, if you could describe the, the Japanese American community on Bainbridge now, today. And living through their experience going to camp. Now, what kind of shape do you think it's in? Do you think it's. How is it doing?

FK: Oh, gosh. I think there's a lot to be done as far as... and I'm glad you guys are doing this because I think this is really helping. But, when you talk about, like all their gathering this history and one of the guys said when the war broke out, he went down to the draft office with some of his Caucasian friends to join the army and the recruiter looked at him, looked at him and said, "There's no way you're gonna' join this army 'cause you're a Jap." And he's saying this, and as he's saying this, tears are coming down his cheek. And he says, "You know, I've never said this before and it's been over fifty years." And it becomes really obvious that, that we have to deal with that pain in order for people to go on with their lives. And although this project is for our children, in order for us to get on with our lives, we have to do some healing also. And I think the psychological damage that was probably done by that time, is something that's really hard to overcome. I see people getting the reparation checks and feeling like, What are people going to say about me taking this money from the government?

LH: And what do they mean by that?

FK: Well they're kind of concerned that they're gonna' get a backlash, because they're making the government pay them all this money. Some people feel like in order to really deserve this money, I should do something good with this money. I should use it for giving it to some worthwhile cause or something like that. I think that people just so evasive, that there were 2,000 people that hadn't, applied for it. And I'm thinking... I guess, if someone tells you you're a second class person and keeps treating you that way, it's tough to get over the feeling that you're not. And that you're... instead of feeling like I've been wronged and I've been, that this money I really deserve. It becomes that you have to justify getting it. Even if somebody's already said you deserve having it and apologized to you. So...

LH: Now how do you...?

FK: I think there's a long ways to go.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 42>

LH: How do you personally feel about the redress?

FK: I think the apology is great, and I think the money had to be involved because it's real easy to say you're sorry. I don't think the money, the money is more symbolic, more than anything else. I mean there aren't very many people who'd want to trade 3 to 3 1/2 years of their life, for the price of a car... and that's getting harder to (say) every year, because cars are going up. But to put it in perspective, when Americans were held in Iran for almost a year, not (by) their own government, but Iran, Congress appropriated them $66 a day for being held by a foreign government. And that would equate out to $80,000 (per person for three years) and not, not even held by your own government. If you take the total amount of money given in reparations, it's comparable to the cost of two B-1 bombers. I mean when you put it in that perspective, it, you think it sounds like a lot of money, but maybe it isn't.

But it's important because -- I went to an 8th grade class and was giving my slide presentation here on the Island and I said to them, "Do you ever think this would be possible to happen again where a group of Americans is rounded up and put into concentration camp?" And most of the kids said no, they don't think it would be possible. And a few that said, well maybe it could happen. So I said, "Well how about during the Gulf War? Did you know that the FBI was gathering information on Iranian-Americans, and actually had kind of tentatively set aside a spot or a site to put them?" And, it was real quietly in there for awhile, and then this one kid said, "Well you know, that might not be a bad idea because you never know what terrorists are gonna' do." And I said, "Well, what if we went to war with Great Britain again? You know, do you think all the kids that are of British extraction should be rounded up and put aside and put into a concentration camp?" And he didn't hesitate a minute, he said, "No, of course not." And I said, "Why not?" And he said, "Well they're more like us."

LH: Interesting.

FK: Yeah, so I'm thinking, well you know, this is a costly thing that you... as long as people don't feel good about themselves, or feel like they need something to blame to make them explain what's happening, then they're always going to be looking for someone (to blame) that makes them feel better. Whether it's out of fear or whatever it is, it's, it's... that's what happens. And I remember hearing Harry Kitano once, the guy from UCLA, and he said, "You know, most of the Asian Americans that are coming to the United States now, are probably different from Japanese Americans." That they're more aggressive, they've been into business a long time and like in Southeast Asia and so forth. So he said you'll find that most of them, when they get over here, will probably economically get some place that's significant much more faster than we did as Japanese Americans.

But he said, "You know something? The Japanese Americans are the only group that has gone through the process that they've gone through as far as losing their civil rights and, and having to deal with being in America and being thought as not being American." But he said if you get down to where who's gonna help other Asians to know what it's like to be American and to know the humanistic aspects of caring (for) each other to, to become a part of this country. He said, "There's no one else in the United States that's better suited to do that, than Americans of Japanese descent." He says, if anything, that's our calling. And I agree with him. I think, and that's maybe one of the reasons why I feel this with a passion, that I need to talk to, to schools and make sure that kids feel okay about themselves and that they actually fit into this country.

LH: I see.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 43>

LH: And on a personal note, do you feel like you've come to terms with your own sense of identity, being Japanese American?

FK: I think I have with that aspect of it. I think, I think there are still things I worry about for myself and so forth. And then sometimes I, I feel like I'm not as... I don't feel like I'm at the, at the top of Maslow's Triangle sometimes, or sometimes I feel like I'm still down in the survival mode. But that probably has a lot to do with my background and my upbringing as much as, as much as the things I think about. It's hard to shake those things off. And you could rationalize with yourself and say all those things, but there's still in the back of your mind you're wondering if either you're good enough or how other people look at you and so forth.

I remember once, I remember once being at church camp, when the leader of the camp said to me, "Maggie Brown has this, this Japanese guy that she really likes. And she wonders what it would be, if it would be okay as far as his ethnic background and stuff to like this Japanese guy." And I'm thinking, Gee, Maggie is really a nice, nice person, you know, I really like her. It's the second year in camp and stuff. And I said, "I didn't even know she had a Japanese boyfriend." So I hear myself saying, "Well you know, if they really like each other and really love each other, it shouldn't make any difference." And that's all I tell them. And then I'm going, and I go back to the dorms after (camp's) over and I'm thinking to myself, God I wonder who Maggie really liked. I thought, "God, I wonder if it was me?" Because we'd been two years in camp and stuff, and I thought, "Well you know, when she comes back to camp next year I'll have to ask her." [Laughs] And she didn't come back to camp next year, so I never knew. But that's just the way you think. You think, "It couldn't, it's not me." So, I don't have the slightest idea, but that's probably a good example of how that kind of affects you, without realizing that it is. That you, you, sometimes is, you don't even realize it's you, that people are talking about because you don't really think you're that good, or whatever, whatever it is. I don't know if it's got to do with culture or the way you were brought up of the things that happen to you when you were growing up so, it could be all those things. And that could be anybody of any color. But I think it's specifically the things we had to go though as Americans of Japanese descent to make that happen to you.

LH: Well I want to thank you today...

FK: Oh, thank you.

LH: For allowing us to interview you. Is there anything else that you'd like to add that we haven't covered?

FK: Oh, probably, but... [Laughs] but I'll find another time.

LH: Okay Frank, well thanks so much, we appreciate it.

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.