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_2-01-0023

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: So after, you mentioned the Bonnie Robinson, Bon Rob pharmacy, the Jefferson Pharmacy, after that what happened?

RO: I went to Owen's.

TI: Okay, so talk about that. Where is Owen's Pharmacy?

MO: Didn't you go to Sam's first?

RO: Oh, that's right. I worked for Sam Goldsmith up on Twenty-eighth and Cherry, right by the bakery.

MO: In the Jewish area up there.

RO: There used to be a big Jewish, Brenner Brothers.

TI: So this is kind of towards Madrona, that neighborhood?

RO: Exactly. Just before Madrona.

TI: Okay. And so you're the young kind of pharmacist working in these various...

RO: Sure.

TI: And that was pretty much the industry back then, like small drugstores, right, in neighborhoods?

RO: Well, that's true, but you know, especially right after the war it was very difficult to find a good job, very difficult for Nisei.

TI: For Niseis or for pharmacist Niseis, or just all Niseis?

RO: All Niseis, I would say. Like after we graduated I think there was very few jobs in the profession that they were studying for. But I look back on the class and there's a few, very few that were not successful in what they did.

TI: When you say class, you mean your pharmacy class or your just --

RO: Just the class in general.

TI: Just the class in general, all the people that graduated at the same time as you did. And what year did you graduate from University of Washington?

RO: '46? No, no, '48?

TI: No, that's when you came out of the service, '48, so then you went to...

RO: Wait a minute, I graduated...

TI: Probably in the early '50s.

MO: Let's see, I went five years and that was '51. Might've been '49.

RO: I don't think so. [Laughs]

TI: Must be a little bit later.

RO: I think so. I think it was around '51 or two.

MO: Maybe, 'cause I finished, I went the five year course and I finished in '52 instead of '51, I think. 'Cause they extended that...

RO: We were married then, though.

MO: Yeah, '51, so it was, well, you graduated '51. I graduated '52.

TI: Okay, so you married right about the time you were both graduating. And that's right, you told how you met, three legged race, and you did that. And so after working Twenty-eighth and Cherry, then you went to Owen's.

RO: Right.

TI: And this is up on Beacon Hill.

RO: Right, Fifteenth and Beacon.

TI: And do you know about what year that was for Owen's?

RO: We were up there, how many years, Marian?

MO: Where? At your store?

RO: Owen's Pharmacy?

MO: Forty years.

TI: Okay. Now, when you went to go work there, did you go there to work or did you buy the business?

RO: No, no. I was an employee. I was a pharmacist. But this is the whole thing that I'm sure was reason that Nisei were able to do well, is they applied theirself at their work. If I didn't fill a prescription I was dusting shelves, you know?

TI: So you were a small businessman. It was not just a pharmacist, but you were running a store.

RO: Yeah.

TI: And so forty years at the Owen's Pharmacy. This is, I always call it the junction on Beacon Hill, it's kind of like a little business area on top of the hill right there. What are your, what are some of your fond memories of Beacon Hill? I mean, at that time lots of Japanese Americans lived on Beacon Hill.

RO: Yeah, really a lot. I can always remember being held up.

TI: Oh my. So was that, did that happen frequently?

RO: No, but this fellow somehow eluded the clerk in the front and came to the back where the pharmacy was, and I was typing away at a prescription, and I just happened to look to my side, here I see this gun with a barrel, extra barrel on it like a silencer. So he says, "I don't want money. I want drugs." So I told him, "Put your gun down I'll give you what you want." So he did that and so I proceeded to give him some things, but all I gave him was laxatives. He never came back again. [Laughs] No, it was funny. I would have been a, really it was probably a dangerous thing to do when he found out it was all that junk.

TI: 'Cause he could've gotten angry and come back with his gun.

RO: Yeah, exactly. The girl clerk didn't even know that he had left when he left.

TI: But she, did she know that he had a gun, though?

RO: She had no idea what happened.

TI: And about what year did this happen? Was this in the '60s or '70s?

RO: I can't quite remember.

TI: Okay. That's okay, I was just thinking in terms of the times and, and when those things...

RO: Well, there was problems with drugstores then, robberies.

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