Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank Muramatsu Interview
Narrator: Frank Muramatsu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 10, 2015
Densho ID: denshovh-mfrank_2-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: And let's go back to the beginning. You mentioned you were born May 29, 1926. So tell me, where were you born?

FM: I was born in Portland, Oregon. My dad at that time, as I think back, was working on a raspberry farm. I don't know what he was doing there, but I know that my grandfather was... his father was always with us, that I could remember. They were working on this raspberry farm, and about 1930 is when they decided to move to the north part of Portland, North Portland, and start a farm of their own rather than just working for somebody.

TI: Okay, I'm going to go in more detail there, but so when you were about four, you went from one place to another. But let's go back to... actually, I want to go back and talk a little bit more about your family, and then we'll talk about the history. When you were born, what was the full name given to you at birth?

FM: Well, my... the only name, as a matter of fact, that was given to me, and I look at my birth certificate, is Makoto, that's my name. I didn't have Frank. "Frank" was given to me I don't know when. But I think... all the time that I could remember, though, I was called Frank by everybody except Mother. My mother called me Makoto (...), all the time, really. I don't think she ever called me Frank. I can't remember whether my dad did or not, but I know that my mother did all the time. And so I don't know when I was given the name Frank, but that's what I remember. And at four years old, I can remember I was called (that). At that time, my older brother George was there, he was two years older.

TI: Now did George have a Japanese name?

FM: Yeah. And he also only had a Japanese name, Minoru.

TI: So your older brother George, two years older, then you were next.

FM: I was next, yeah.

TI: And then after you?

FM: After there... while we were in Montavilla, the south part of Portland, my younger brother Susumu would have been born.

TI: And his name was Henry?

FM: Henry, yeah.

TI: And after Henry...

FM: After Henry it was a brother, but he died when he was a baby. And I recall, not vividly, but I do remember that we had his service at home. But we were already then, had moved to the North Portland where our farm was going to be.

TI: And that was kind of the Columbia Slough area?

FM: Yeah, Columbia Slough. We called it, everybody called it the Columbia Slough, but there was a contingent of Japanese in the area because it was good farming area. And I think maybe there might have been twenty families, and some were farming, some had markets along Columbia Boulevard at the north part of Portland. And maybe about half and half, but I recall that (...) as I was growing up, that was our, kind of our social group. We didn't have, at that time, too many Caucasian or other families that we did anything with, but the entire aspect of our social get-together was with these Japanese families that were around.

TI: Okay, so let's go back to your family, because you then talked about a younger brother who died as a baby, and you mentioned they had a service in, I guess, in the house.

FM: Yes. And I know that by then, at that time, we were already in North Portland on the farm. And then after that it was Mary, and I think this was the first time that our kids were named, had an American name. Of course, they had a Japanese name, too. Mary, Rose, these were all about two years apart. Mary, Rose, Grace, and Earl.

TI: Now did Earl have both an American and a Japanese...

FM: Yeah. And the girls did, too, let's see. I can't think of Mary's Japanese name. I should remember, but these are things that I do forget. But Rose was, her name is Harue, and Grace was Misao.

TI: So there were seven kids.

FM: Seven kids.

TI: And then you had another brother who died at birth.

FM: Yeah. As a matter of fact, I leave out my older sister. She was... I guess I should tell you about that.

TI: Yeah, talk about that. So this actually sets up, I want to go back to your parents coming to the United States. So let's do it this way. Let's first talk about your father and mother and how they met, and we can then talk about your sister. So first your father, what was his name?

FM: His name was Matsutaro Muramatsu, and my mother's name was Kyu, K-Y-U. They lived in a small town on the Izu Peninsula. The Izu Peninsula is that area that is south and west of Tokyo. (...)

TI: So the two of them were married in Japan?

FM: They were married in Japan, and they did have a child. They had my older sister, and I found out later in my life that she was seven years older than I was. So they must have come over, immigrated to the United States about 1920 (...). My sister had been born in Japan. But when they came over, she was too young, they felt that she was too young to be taken care of properly, so she was left with my mother's parents in this little... (...) fishing village. But she was left there, and to be kind of sent for after they were able to, with enough economics to be able to bring her over. Unfortunately, that never happened. I know that she was always there, because they would talk about her, naturally, when we were kids. When we were growing up, they talked about her all the time, and I think they sent money back, but probably, I think it really turned out that they didn't ever get enough money to be able to come over. And, of course, even before I was born, 1924 would have been the exclusion point, and then she was then not able to come over.

TI: Oh, interesting, that's right. Because the immigration act...

FM: Yeah, that immigration prohibited her from coming. So she never came.

TI: And when your parents talked about her, do you recall what they said or what they were talking about?

FM: Well, she stayed with my mother's family, her name was Suzuki. I guess I really never knew too much about her family. The only person that I remember by name was my mother's brother, Gombei Ojisan. Mom would talk about Gombei Ojisan, and he would have been my uncle on my mother's side. And I guess they lived in this town, the town's name was Arari. I don't know how you spell it. But years and years later, I did go there with my wife. But when I went there, I didn't know what to expect, but by golly, it was a very small fishing village, probably it hadn't changed in a hundred years, even before my mom and dad left. It was a very small town.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.