Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Robert T. Ohashi Interview
Narrator: Robert T. Ohashi
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 29, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-orobert_2-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: But, so going back, when you say all the husbands, do you really mean all the, so all the, like all the Issei men were taken?

RO: All the Issei men, including the bachelors. You know, I didn't have time at home, but I have a picture of Lordsburg, the guys that were detained, and I have one of my dad alone with a Lordsburg t-shirt.

TI: Now, did you ever, did anyone ever give a reason why they picked up all the Issei men? I mean, on the lower forty-eight, or on the West Coast, the FBI selectively picked up Isseis. Generally they were, they were business leaders or community leaders, Buddhist ministers, sort of kendo instructors, things like that.

RO: Sure.

TI: And, but here in Ketchikan they picked up all the Isseis.

RO: En masse.

TI: So do you know why they did that and why that was different than the West Coast?

RO: No, I really don't know. I'm sure the, get away from the threat of Japanese invasions or whatever. They had a story about Pat Hagiwara. Did you know Pat, or heard the name?

TI: I know the name, yeah.

RO: They accused Pat of being up on top of a mountain waving flags for the Japanese to see. So crazy.

TI: And did they have a trial about that, or just...

RO: He wasn't arrested for anything like that.

TI: Okay. But it was, it was a newspaper article, or where did that come out?

RO: Word of mouth.

TI: Okay, so it's kind of like a rumor that... so there was some, I mean, it seems like it was unfounded, but there were fears in the town about the Japanese and Japanese were suspect.

RO: Well, when I heard about that he was up in Skagway where the, I think it was the National Guard, they were stationed before they came stateside, and I think the rumors started up there, Skagway, which is quite a ways north of Seattle.

TI: When they, for that short period when they released your father, did they release some of the other Isseis at that point? Just your father.

RO: Not as far as I know.

TI: Okay. So with all the men gone, so your mom is running the store, the other mothers are running the stores and businesses, how does that change your life? I mean, you said you had to help the baker.

RO: Well, that's what I did probably, was try to help some of the other Issei women in their business. I used to work at Tatsuda's grocery, and they always wanted a lunch break, which was sort of nice, the family, so they hired me to work a couple hours during the lunch break for fifty cents an hour.

TI: Interesting, so you would come in and the family would take a break.

RO: Yeah, they'd go upstairs to their dining room and I'd be down in the store watching it.

TI: So what happened, so eventually the families get a notice, or orders that their gonna have to leave Ketchikan, so what happens to all the businesses?

RO: Well, we were fortunate that this Filipino barber more or less took over the store for us in safekeeping, but I think several of the others just had to close. But when we came back they were started up again.

TI: Now your building, who owned the building?

RO: We did.

TI: And so how did that happen? Didn't, I mean, in Washington state there were, like, alien land laws.

RO: I really, I don't know, but we've had that house since 1908. Maybe they weren't so strict in those days.

TI: Yeah, so maybe that was before the, well yeah, the alien land laws actually happened after that, so in many cases they may have done that before, perhaps grandfathered in.

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