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

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Today is Wednesday, June 10, 2015. We're in Seattle at the Densho office. On camera is Dana Hoshide, and I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda. And this morning we have Frank Muramatsu with us. So, Frank, I'm going to just start with the simple, basic questions. Can you tell me when your birthday is?

FM: My birthday is May 29, 1926, that is when I was born.

TI: Okay, so you just had a birthday a couple weeks ago.

FM: Right.

TI: You turned eighty-nine?

FM: Eighty-nine.

TI: You look great.

FM: I didn't think I would make it, but here I am.

TI: Now I'm curious, I've never asked this question. When you think of the Issei generation, if someone kind of reached sixty or seventy, that was doing pretty well. For Niseis, how long do you think Niseis are going to... what's kind of the longevity, is it ninety?

FM: I didn't think I would make it... I didn't think I would make it this long. As a matter of fact, when I retired from Boeing, you know, Boeing retires on the first of the month, and I retired in June. So I retired June 1, except that my last day of work was May 29th, which was my sixty-first birthday. And one of the things that we had to make a decision on was after a while, the taking of social security. And I had a chance of either sixty-five, which is normal, but sixty-two if you felt that you needed... you know, I didn't have to have the money, but I thought, well, son of a gun, my mother didn't make it too long. My dad lived a pretty good while, but I thought, well, at that time, the longevity was something like seventy-six or seventy-eight, something like that. And the crossover point of getting money from social security was, for me, I figured it was about seventy-six.

TI: Oh, so the decision, if you started at sixty-two, if you died before seventy-six or seventy-seven, it'd be better to start at sixty-two.

FM: Yeah.

TI: But if you were going to live beyond seventy and eighties, it would be better to actually wait.

FM: You're right. As it turned out, at eighty-nine now, I've lost the twenty percent that we do lose. But I wish I had kind of taken it, but it doesn't make any difference. But I wish I had taken it a little bit early, I mean --

TI: Later.

FM: I didn't use the sixty-two. I should have used sixty-five for sure.

TI: Because that was like a twenty percent difference?

FM: Yeah, it's a pretty big difference.

TI: Okay, so for all those years, you were taking twenty percent less.

FM: Yeah. So from quite a while. (...) I'm getting less money, but that's okay.

TI: And so I usually ask this at the end of the interview, but this is a good time. So with those extra years that you lived longer than you thought, like say the last ten years from seventy-nine to eighty-nine, what does that mean to you? What difference does that make, living an extra ten years than you think you would?

FM: Well, for me, I have really enjoyed it. I keep thinking, to realize that I have been retired for twenty-eight years, it just kind of boggles my mind. I had no idea that I would enjoy the retirement years as long as, as much as I have. It's a great thing now. (...) I spent some time after I retired with my wife, but since then, I've spent a lot of good times kind of enjoying what I didn't have early on.

TI: And what are those things that you can enjoy now that you didn't have early on?

FM: Well, of course, I do a lot of things for my own personal enjoyment. When I retired, one of the things that I did fairly soon was to determine what I was gonna do, just to keep busy. And I kind of went down the road of volunteering. I lived in the south end of Seattle and I volunteered with the senior center in Des Moines, and I did that for maybe five years. And I did things like Meals on Wheels for a couple of years. And beyond that, I had fifteen years of volunteer driving for Senior Services. We would drive people that could not go to medical or dental appointments. And once a week, sometimes twice a week, I'd drive people that needed help in getting to medical.

TI: Good, so you were able to do things to give back to the community.

FM: Yeah, I did a lot of that. And I felt good about that.

TI: But how about a decision? Earlier you mentioned if you knew you were going to live this long, you would have waited a little bit longer for social security.

FM: For sure.

TI: Anything else that you could think of that you would have done differently, knowing that you were gonna live to eighty-nine? I mean, the last, yeah, would you have done something differently?

FM: I wish I'd learned to play golf better is one of the things. I did play a lot of golf. I joined a couple of retiree golf groups, and had I learned to play golf better earlier on, rather than trying to break just 90, I would have wanted to break 80 probably. That would have been a, not an enjoyable thing, but then, you know, it would have been a goal that I wish I had better done. I have two grandkids, and I didn't do too much with them. I don't know that I would have done any different than I did, really, but they kind of went their ways, and I didn't have a real close relationship with my grandkids. I kind of wish I had done better that way, but it was just the way it goes. Sometimes it didn't, we didn't get together too much. We did when they were young, but as they got older, they really did it their way, and that was all right, too. But I was never not busy, I never looked for things to do as I was retired for that period of time.

TI: Okay, so this was a change for me to actually start with kind of the end of your life or now, versus the beginning. So I'm going to now switch gears here.

FM: Okay.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: Now, when you went back, could you imagine growing up and living there? I mean, because, in some ways, your parents had already met and started a family. If they had not come to the United States, they would have had you there. I mean, did you ever think that?

FM: No, I just can't... at that time, my sister already, (...) had a family by then, because it was... I went back on my own thirty-fifth wedding anniversary with my wife. And so I think it was in the early '80s that we went back -- we went, not back, went there for the first time, and the only time that I ever have been in Japan. And no, we think about having (...) lived there possibly, and I don't think I would have been able to accept it.

TI: How do you think your life would have been, I mean, if your parents had their, all eight kids in this little fishing village?

FM: Oh, my goodness.

TI: Would have become a fisherman?

FM: Well, they had, I understand that they had a little bit of land, my grandfather's property. And I saw it, and at that time, of course, my sister... I'm trying to think of her name, and isn't that terrible that I can't think of her name even? We didn't do too much with them. But the land that she had, I think she rented it out (...). It was a rice paddy type thing. (...) She had this land down at the bottom, and there was a mountain. And she owned, they had land that (...) went up this mountain, but I don't know what they did with it. I think they just, I think it might have been groves of trees or something like that. (...) My sister had three boys and a girl. And you know, at that time, I probably should have probably been a little bit more mindful about what they were doing, but I think they worked in a, some kind of a factory.

TI: And these would have been your nephews and nieces.

FM: Yeah, my nephews. One of the nephews, as a matter of fact, at that time had come to the United States, not immigrated, but he had come to, I guess to just study and live with my older brother in Portland, Oregon. And by then I had met him, H.B. I don't know what his real name is, but we called him H.B. And he had lived with my brother, and so I knew him, and I had met him (...). But when I went to Japan at that time with my wife on this visit, he was there, and he treated me very well (...). As a matter of fact, you know, I didn't speak, I don't speak Japanese very well. I understand it a little bit, but I don't speak it hardly at all. And that first couple of days with my sister was a real problem, because conversation just did not exist too much. She would talk to me in Japanese, which I understood. She didn't understand English at all, and that was the problem, that I couldn't speak.

TI: But your nephew, could he kind of translate?

FM: Yeah, he was our translator.

TI: Okay, that's a good story. You mentioned earlier that your grandfather on your father's side was in the United States.

FM: Yes.

TI: So did he come over the same time with your parents?

FM: I think he was here before. (...) He was probably living in, at that time, living in Oregon (...). As a matter of fact, as I think back now, his wife, my grandmother, was there. Both of my father's parents, father and mother were here in Portland. But she died very early after we had moved to the North Portland farm. The recollection of her is very vague.

TI: Yeah, I was going to ask about that. And what was your grandparents' names on your dad's side?

FM: My grandfather's name is Tatsutaro, and he was with us for quite a while, actually.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: And going back to your parents, do you know why they got married? Was it like an arranged marriage, was it a marriage of love?

FM: In Japan?

TI: In Japan, yeah. Because most of the marriages I've talked about with Isseis, they were more arranged because the man was in the United States, and then it was sort of arranged and then they would either get married by proxy or there was, like, a picture bride. But here, your parents were actually, met and married...

FM: Yeah, they were in Japan, and they were in this town. I don't know whether it was an arranged, but it's not the way it... almost all marriages were arranged, I think. (...) I didn't talk to them about a lot of things, and I do wish I had. Because that part of my life, my history, is lacking, Tom. I wish I had done quite a bit more talking.

TI: But this is going to be so precious for your grandchildren, because this gives a, maybe not the full picture, but a glimpse of these people and the connections.

FM: Well, I'll tell you a little bit more later, but you know, my life was... evacuation had a lot to do with my not knowing too much about them.

TI: Well, we'll get into that, because everything was sort of taken away. Yeah, we'll get into that.

FM: But that was the reason. I just didn't know my parents very well at all, because I didn't live with them.

TI: But let's... we're kind of teasing out what you do remember. And starting with your mother, how would you describe her? What was she like?

FM: Well, she was a good mother. I remember her putting my clothes on when I was getting ready to go to school and things like that. So she took care of us very well. In addition to that, of course, she was a farmer's wife, and she would go out in the field with us. She didn't stay at home, in the house, and just be a housewife. She was a working member of that family, even when I was pretty small, she was out there helping the father.

TI: Well, that's amazing, because she was raising, like, lots of children, too.

FM: Yeah, she had a lot of kids. And even yet, she would go out into the field when she was able to. The whole thing was that my family was pretty poor throughout the time. We just never, ever had any abundance of money, and so we were never, being on a farm, we were never hungry, but we never had a whole lot of things. I think about our (...), the house that we lived in all time, up to the time we had to leave, was the same house that we were born in. I was probably born in the south part of town, because that house was moved from south Portland to our farm in North Portland.

TI: So they just put it on, kind of, wheels or something and carted it over?

FM: Yeah, they just moved it. It was quite a distance, maybe eight, ten miles I would imagine, maybe even more.

TI: Yeah, if you're south of Portland going to north of Portland, that's... so describe the house then. How big was it?

FM: Oh, the house was a very small two-bedroom house, and I remember it's very vivid, because that was the house that we lived in until we left the place. But it was two bedrooms, a parlor, and a kitchen. Very, very primitive type house.

TI: And so there were seven children at the, right before the war.

FM: And then Grandpa.


FM: Yeah, there was a lot of people.

TI: So where did you sleep? Who did you... what room, were the bedrooms...

FM: I think initially I slept with (...) my grandfather. But when I was older, got to be probably fourteen maybe, something like that, George and I, we were fourteen and sixteen, or maybe twelve and fourteen, (...) we moved ourselves to a bunkhouse, which was adjacent to our house. And that's where we, for a fairly long time, because I can remember studying there. That bunkhouse did not have (...) electricity in the place, talking about primitive, our house had when they first put it together, I know that we had water and we had gas, pipe gas. And why my father didn't put a gas lantern into the bedrooms I don't know, but we didn't have light in the bedrooms. We had light in the kitchen, we had one of these mantle lights overhead, and we had a light in the parlor, and that was all. We just didn't have lights like that. What do you need? Another twenty feet of black pipe would have gotten a light there in the bedroom, but I guess he didn't have the money to do that, Tom. So we used lanterns, kerosene lanterns. That was one of my, when I was younger, (...) constant job to fill the lamps and to clean the, what do you call that, the glass part.

TI: And this was all the way up until the war started?

FM: Yeah. Well, yeah. As a matter of fact, just before the war, probably about '39, a couple of years before the war started, we finally got power, electrical power. And I guess it took that long... well, it really wasn't that long, it was about from 1930 to '38 or '39 when we finally got power there.

TI: And the area you are, it's actually, people will probably know where it is because it's right where the airport is right now.

FM: Yes, yes. That's another story. In about 1935, the airport was being built. And so our initial parcel of land was condemned and we had to move. And so, by then, George and I, especially, we were there in our school district, and I was probably just about to begin high school or something like that. So maybe I was in junior high. Anyhow, we kind of talked to Dad and wondered if he wouldn't be able to buy land real close by so that we could stay in the school district, which he did. Turns out that he bought some land adjacent to the airport, the east side of the airport.

TI: So just maybe a mile away?

FM: Well, no. It was really right adjacent. (...) (Our water bags) was in canvas bags. Good thing about that was the water would seep out through the canvas and it would evaporate and it would be a kind of a cooler. So we would hang that on the cyclone fence of the airport, so we were right there, right next door. (...) Our house was there, maybe or ten or fifteen yards away was the cyclone fence to the airport.

TI: And going back to those burlap or canvas water bags, is that your drinking water?

FM: Yeah, the drinking water.

TI: So you get it from wells, or where would the water come from?

FM: Of course, we did have city water or, you know, piped water. We had piped water, and we had, I told you earlier that we had not only piped water, but piped gas, too.

TI: Then why would you need to put water in the bags if you had running water?

FM: We'd carry it out to the...

TI: To the fields?

FM: Yeah, to the fields.

TI: And that would be your drinking water out there.

FM: Yeah, drinking water.

TI: I see, okay.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: All right, and when you moved from the first place and then you had to sell the land and move, did you move the house?

FM: (...) Well, the house was moved, and we had barns, we had a barn, had some bunkhouses that people would live in when we had... our big crop was. (...) our big crop was ten acres of string beans, which we would pick and contract to a cannery. But during that time, we would have people come and stay with us on the farm, and so we built bunkhouses for them. We probably had, oh, maybe fifteen or so people that would live out on the farm with us during the summer. The summer, five or six weeks that we were harvesting the beans. Actually during the time that we were there, we always had some gentlemen that would be with us to help us on the farm. We had, I remember Mr. Doi and another man, two guys (...). They were friends that had worked with them in the sawmills when Grandfather and my dad worked in the sawmills.


TI: And they would live in these outbuildings?

FM: Yeah, it was an outbuilding, yeah.

TI: Now, were they Japanese?

FM: Yeah. In fact, the family that lived with us was Mr. and Mrs. Mori. I know there was some kind of a relationship like my mother's second cousin or something like that. And so they lived with us and helped us on the farm. They were there constantly, all the time.

TI: Now when you mentioned the twenty acres, first you were in one place and you had to move, did your family own the land?

FM: Yeah, we owned it. But as I think about it now, I think it was owned under the name of my brother George.

TI: Because of the alien land laws?

FM: Yeah, because of that problem. But I think he owned it.

TI: Yeah, because when you said they condemned it and they got money to buy another piece, it sounded like your family...

FM: So I know that when we left, when we had to leave after the war started, this is skipping a little bit, but we had... the airport decided to build on to their...

TI: To expand the airport.

FM: (...) Initially it was a mile square, and we were right in the middle of it. And then we moved to this place adjacent to the airport (...) They probably expanded it another mile maybe, another square mile. It's a pretty good sized airport, it's the municipal airport there in Portland right now. And as I think about it, I've been there driving down on, through 205. (...) There was an island, government island right in the middle of the Columbia, in the river, and I've driven by on Marine View Drive, which is along the river. And based on where that government island is, our house was just about where the terminal is right now, you know, the big terminal. (...) It was pretty hard life, but we just kind of enjoyed it.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Well, you know, to give a sense of your hard life, what would be an example of a chore or something you did to help out on the farm?

FM: (...) The only mechanized equipment that we had was a tractor, which we did our plowing and cultivating and things like that. When we were cultivating, Dad would plow it. When you plow a piece of land, you needed to have the strength to drop the plow where you wanted to turn the soil. But once that was done, to cultivate the land with a disk, and then later with a harrow, you had to just drive the tractor around and around. We had a tractor, it wasn't a Caterpillar, but it was a Cletrac tractor, had tracks on it, and the way to turn that was to just brake one side of the tractor. If you brake the right, that is to stop it, you stop the right track, the tractor would move to the right. And so when I was (...) seven years old, Dad would get me on the tractor with him, and he would get me started on doing the disking or the harrowing. Any job that didn't require any activation of anything behind me. (...) He'd get me on, and get me started, and he would jump off and he'd do something else. And this two or three hours that it took to harrow the land or disk the land, here I am, I couldn't stop the tractor because I was too small and didn't have the strength to stop it.

TI: But you could drive it.

FM: But I could move it, yeah, I could drive it around and around and around, and prepare the soil. I did that sort of thing. But it wasn't much after that, though, that we learned to drive cars. We had a pickup, we had a '34 Ford pickup, and I know that by seven or eight years old, I was driving that, not on the highway, street, but on the land on our property carrying things and doing things. But the time I was maybe twelve, thirteen years old, we were doing work. Just like the people that we had hired that were farmhands, I remember coming home from school and maybe picking up a sandwich, so within an hour or half an hour after I got home from school, we were out in the field working with the farmhands that we had. So it was a tough life. It was a hard life. That was about the time I realized or decided that I wasn't going to be a farmer, Tom. I just wasn't going to be a farmer. Although now I think about it, probably if I had fifty acres of land someplace around town, it'd be pretty good. But it was a hard life.

TI: I'm curious, what did that kind of life teach you? I mean, I'm thinking, boy, you worked hard at a very young life, but how did that serve you later on in your life?

FM: Well, as I say, (...) I determined that I did not want to be a farmer. But we were fairly responsible from the time we were probably twelve, fourteen years old, we were doing the work that any of our farmhands did Saturday and Sunday and after school and during the summer vacation. We were there, we were just one of the farmhands.

TI: Well, so here's a question. During the war when you went to camp, now you come across other Japanese Americans, and I'll use my dad as an example, he grew up in the city, so he's a city boy and you're a farm boy. What differences did you see? Like when you come across someone who you know grew up on a farm, do you think differently? I mean, do you think that they approached life differently? What's the difference between a farm boy...

FM: (...) I would imagine your dad (...) all did harvesting when we got to camps. You may have heard about that.

TI: Sugar beets.

FM: Yeah, sugar beets and potatoes, for sure. But when we had to go and do that, and we did that, of course, there weren't too many farm type, kids that grew up on the farm there. But we did get together a crew of six or eight guys, and we would go out and it was easy. It was easy for us to do that.

TI: That's so funny, because from my, the other stories I hear from city folks, they said that was the hardest work they've ever done. [Laughs] It was backbreaking.

FM: It was that for sure. On the other hand, when we went, I remember the first time that I ever went out with a group of guys, most of us (...) were the city guys, maybe six city guys and a couple of guys, couple of us from the farms. Well, we would get jobs like digging the potato or the sugar beets on a tractor, because we knew how to run that sort of thing. So it was easy for us to get on a tractor and just dig the beets up. Whereas the other fellows, they had backbreaking jobs of topping the beets, and it was a tough life and tough work for them, yeah, for sure.

TI: Yeah, because you knew how to do the equipment, and that's what made it, made you have a different type of job. That makes sense.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So I'm going to now jump back to your, kind of, when you're growing up. Did you have time when you were in school to do extracurricular activities? Like in junior high school, high school, did you do sports?

FM: Not too much. I enjoyed sports, and I played in junior high and in high school, we did sports activities during the winter, when we were not working on the farm. And so I didn't play (...) football and baseball, but those were sports in the spring and fall. But when it was harvesting and work on the farm (...). But we did play basketball, and at the time, I was on the wrestling team. But again, that was complete winter sport, so we did do that, Tom. (...) I enjoyed that sort of thing. I enjoyed winter because we didn't have to work that hard out on the farm. That was the times when (...) it was raining and snowing, and no crops were on the ground. I remember, though, cauliflower, cabbage and things like that grew. But through November, we were harvesting pretty much through. And for about two months there, maybe December or January was about the only time that we didn't have work to do on the farm.

TI: Now as a kid, did you do things like matsutake or clam digging or things like that?

FM: Very little. We didn't do that. (...) I wish we had.

TI: Was that pretty common down there for...

FM: It was pretty common. Like I said earlier, that our social activities, I think, early on, was always with the Japanese people in the area. We had Japanese school that we went to three times a week. And again, it was after the school that we, after school we would be let off near the Japanese school, which was fairly far away from our farm.

TI: So this was like the school bus would take you from the regular school and then drop you off by the Japanese school?

FM: Yeah. And we would do some amount of studying, but I think most of my time, I think I was just out playing Kick the Can during recess, you know, sort of thing. (...) When I was in junior high school, we're studying first grade Japanese school work. (...) I did not do too well. I wish I had done more, and I think part of it was my not wanting to learn it too much. Later on in life I realized that had I been more diligent, I think I would have done better at certain things.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: So I'm going to now kind of jump to December 7, 1941.

FM: Okay.

TI: And tell me about that day and what were you doing?

FM: That was a Sunday. And I remember we were (...) out in the cauliflower field cutting cauliflower and packing cauliflower for the market next day. Our farm was generally, it was all vegetables, things like cauliflower, cabbage and carrots and spinach and things like that, but you know, depending on the crop that we were growing, various times of the year. But on that Sunday we were cutting cauliflower and packing and then carrying them out to the edge of the field, so that it could be taken and put on the truck and taken to the farmer's market the next morning for sale. I think we heard about it probably about mid-morning. I don't know who came out to tell us that the attack had occurred in Pearl Harbor, and I think also thinking... of course, I didn't know where Pearl Harbor was. It was in Hawaii, and that was about all I knew. But that was just the complete secession of any harvesting of our land, I mean, of our crops that we had in the field. We didn't have too many crops at that time, but it was probably cauliflower and cabbage. But on that day, that was the end of anything that we would do, Tom.

TI: Now why was that? Because people still need to eat...

FM: I know. I don't know why we stopped doing it. I don't recall hardly doing any work after that. We just didn't... I don't know why. You're right, the crops were in the field, but we didn't do any harvesting. I did go to school the next day. I was by then finishing my sophomore year in high school. I was still fifteen, (...) we were probably the only Asian family that was going to that school. It was a small school district, but I had been in school with many of 'em from the first grade on. So they were all my friends, (...). I recall being talked to kind of seriously with Mr. Berger who was my biology teacher. I didn't talk to any other faculty member, but Mr. Berger did talk to me about being, kind of being Japanese. I think I knew I was Japanese all along, but when (...) I was playing basketball and wrestling at the time. (I was) just one of the gang, essentially.

TI: So what do you think the biology teacher was trying to do?

FM: I think he was, wanted to make sure that I didn't get any harassment from any of my friends, I mean students.

TI: So he wanted to protect you in some ways.

FM: Yeah, essentially.

TI: Or look out for you.

FM: As it turns out, though, I don't think I needed it because the student there, were longtime friends. They (...) didn't give me any problems. Because that was from December, January, February (...). We didn't leave 'til May, and I think I went to school right up to the end, right up to the day, almost to the day we left, I did go to school.

TI: Going back to your friends, what ethnicity were they?

FM: They're all Caucasians.

TI: But from which countries of, were their ancestors from?

FM: I don't know. I guess I never thought about it. I think we had a few friends that were Italian. (...) I don't know what background they were. But other than being Italian, I didn't know of any other, I didn't realize that there were any other ethnicity there.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: The other question I wanted to ask you, your farm was close to or adjacent to the airport.

FM: Well, yeah.

TI: And one of the issues, I think, for people, was they were afraid that Japanese were spying on things like airports, or they were so close to these critical areas like airports or factories or looking at harbors when ships are coming in and out. Did the FBI ever visit or do anything with your family?

FM: (...) December 7th, nobody came. That Sunday, nobody came. But on December 8th, the day after, we had a big contingent of soldiers on the farm. I came home from school and, oh, seemed like there was a bunch of guys, but there must have been a squad of soldiers there. And they were in the house, there were probably two or three or four guys in the house, and they were also patrolling the area around the barn and the other buildings, the outside. I remember walking into the house and one of the soldiers asked me, "What are you doing here?" I said, "Hey, I live here," that kind of a thing. And I think that was fairly common with the most, a lot of the families. Yes, we didn't get any direct problem because we were living there, although I know that second hand or third hand, we heard a number of times that we were placed there by the Japanese emperor or whatever. But then you got to realize that five or six years before then, we were moved once, we were moved again. Essentially, when we were moved, we were there because we just, because of our own personal requirements, that we wanted to be close by. Not that anybody else... certainly didn't have any contact with (...) Japan in any way at all. There were not only us, but there must have been two or three other families that lived around the airport like we did. But I didn't get any, my dad didn't get any hassling, but...

TI: Did they place any restrictions on the families nearby in terms of movement or access around the airport? Do you recall anything like that?

FM: Not that I'm aware of. But we lived within twenty yards of the airport, we were right on the, it would be the east-west runway. Of course, at that time, when they came and they confiscated all of the radios, lanterns, anything like that, we had a couple of guns, we had a shotgun and a .22 rifle.

TI: Now why lanterns? I'm trying to think, why would they take lanterns?

FM: You know, again, signaling sort of thing. We had problems because we didn't have lights in the barn area, and they took our lanterns away (...)... I think they finally, after a while they brought 'em back, you know, they brought 'em back for us. But on the other hand, too, we didn't stay there hardly at all. One of the things that we did, what happened to us right after the war was, since they wanted to enlarge the airport, they made that decision fairly quickly after December 7th. And so we moved, (...) I think in January we were gone from there. And so talking about getting rid of our equipment, things like that, we did that fairly early.

TI: And that would be true then of all the farms or families that owned property in that area, they all had to move?

FM: Yeah.

TI: So it wasn't like the Japanese were singled out, it was more everyone?

FM: Well, we were... I think there was one other family whose land had to be evacuated again.

TI: And were they Japanese also?

FM: Yeah, they were Japanese, Nakamuras.

TI: So the two Japanese farms had to be...

FM: Yeah. I think the other land, there was a golf course there and a couple of other, there was a dairy farm. But we were really close there.

TI: Now did they allow any Japanese farms close by the airport to stay there?

FM: No. Of course, they condemned the land so that... I don't know really how big that was, but I'm sure it was maybe another square mile was taken on the east side of the airport, and it extended it quite a bit.

TI: So I'm trying to kind of piece this together. I mean, is it fair... so it sounds like there were kind of rumors that perhaps you were placed there by the Japanese.

FM: I'm sure there were rumors, but we didn't hear it directly from any friends, but we heard it from, other people said it.

TI: And then it seems like within weeks after Pearl Harbor, the attack at Pearl Harbor, like the next month, in January, they're moving you out.

FM: Yes, we were gone.

TI: And the other Japanese farm that was nearby.

FM: Yeah.

TI: And do you think... and you kind of mentioned it being more like it was just an expansion, or was it really to get you guys out of there?

FM: No, I think it really was an expansion, and we just happened to be there. But we had to move fairly quickly. We were gone within a month (...).

TI: And then where did you go from there?

FM: We went to, from there we went to... I know that we went to, Mr. Okazaki had a farm, probably a couple, maybe three miles away, and we just went and stayed in one of his bunkhouses essentially until we moved completely.

TI: So did your family get compensated for the land that they...

FM: Yes, I'm sure of that, yeah. But we had twenty-five cares, and I don't know what they gave Dad for it, five hundred dollars an acre maybe, or maybe a hundred dollars an acre? I don't know what the money was, but I'm sure he didn't end up with a million dollars. It was very, very minimal.

TI: And yet it may not have been as bad as some other people who...

FM: Oh, yes, who lost it completely.

TI: Yeah, or had to sell kind of, felt like they had to sell that.

FM: (...) A farm has all kinds of (equipment) that we had to work the land with. And all of that stuff went, we had to get something that might have cost us five dollars to begin with, and we got ten cents for it. (...) We had a tractor, we had a flatbed truck, we had a pickup, and we had a car. (...) We had a sedan car for our family. And I know that the tractor probably cost a thousand dollars to begin with, (...) I think he sold it to somebody for a hundred dollars. Dad did not have much time to negotiate selling it, but he sold quite a bit of the stuff. Gave away a lot of the stuff, too, I would imagine.

TI: And are these... and so how well did your father get along with the other farmers in the area? I mean, was it something that they were, like, friendly farmers that he was able to...

FM: Yeah, he had no problems. You mean the non-Japanese farmers?

TI: Yeah, non-Japanese.

FM: Yeah, we had a lot of friends.

TI: So I'm guessing that's who he sold them to, right?

FM: Yeah, to some extent. But a lot of the people came, they were from other areas that wanted to buy stuff pretty cheaply. And they generally got a pretty good bargain, because we knew that we had to get away. When you sell something, you know, ten cents on the dollar, you don't end up with too many things.

TI: And how was the mood of the family? Was it difficult?

FM: The family scenario? No, I thought that they were pretty good. The friends we had stayed friends with us all the way. (...) We never talked to them after it happened. The Caucasian friends that lived in the area, I guess we just didn't contact them too much after the war started. But they weren't... they didn't give us any haranguing business.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So, Frank, right before the break, we were talking about the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and that you had all these soldiers there. Because I was mentioning most people, almost, I think, every other person I interviewed, at most they maybe had one or two people visit their place right after the war. So it was curious that you had so many people. So tell me a little bit more about that.

FM: Well, we lived about maybe a quarter mile back from the paved road we had to go through on our land. And yes, we could see as we were walking this quarter mile to the house area, that there were many people there, and they were soldiers with rifles and so forth. And the first contact, verbal contact that I had was... and one was when I first stepped into the house, the guy asked me, "What are you doing here?" And I told him that, "I live here." And they had done a fair amount of searching already in the house. (...) As far as (...) doing anything with the stuff that we owned, Japanese type stuff, we didn't have time during the day. But shortly after, they did a lot of searching because a lot of the drawers and things were in disarray. But that afternoon, they were there for quite a while. That afternoon, they took my dad away to do some more interrogation, evidently. We had no idea whether (...) we were going to see him again. But fortunately, it was late, ten, maybe, he did come back. He was never really taken away.

TI: Now, after that incident, did they ever come back to the farm to check things out?

FM: Not that I was aware of. They may have. I think they came back a little bit later and gave us, brought back some of the things that they had confiscated like the lanterns. Then we had these lanterns, and in order to go, for us to go to the barn area, we didn't have lights back there, we had to go there at night, we had to carry a lantern.

TI: Now did your dad, do you think your dad requested to get the lanterns back?

FM: I would imagine that he did, yeah. Because... but on the other hand, we weren't doing any work by then. Work completely stopped, and we just didn't do anything in the way of farm associated work.

TI: And then tell me again, and then shortly after December 7th, they decided, "We need to expand the airport?"

FM: Yeah.

TI: And so how did they let the family know that they had to leave? Did they come out, did they send a letter?

FM: (...) I don't know whether they did it by letter, but we made plans fairly quickly after that to move away. Of course, Pop had to go find a place to live, and he did... well, he knew that Mr. Okazaki had some buildings on his property to be able to handle a family as large as ours, and he did that. Whether he did it by letter or what, I imagine somebody came out and talked to Dad.

TI: Now how important was the airport to the war effort? I'm trying to think, because back then it wasn't that large...

FM: Well, they had a contingent of, I think the Air Force had a (base) off to the side.

TI: Okay, so the military was using the...

FM: Yeah, they were using it.

TI: Okay. And so given the, I guess, fear during the time, or just the uncertainty, there was probably, some people were probably concerned having Japanese families so close to the airport with a military sort of contingent there.

FM: When we had to undergo the registration and all that sort of thing, things that were required of us after the war, (...) started, I remember it was all from Mr. Okazaki's place. When we had the curfew, it was there that I remember we had to go back home, and it was to the Okazaki farm that we had to go back to. And, of course, when we left, it was from there, naturally. But we had... everything was done. Because we had to move away from the airport pretty quickly, much before the evacuation efforts were begun.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So let's talk about that. So now at some point you get the notice or the orders that you have to move and get picked up and sent someplace. Did you know where you were going to go when they were going to pick up the Japanese families?

FM: I didn't. I certainly didn't, and I doubt that anybody in our family, maybe... see, we went to the Portland Assembly Center.

TI: Right, right, which was kind of the... it wasn't that far away.

FM: No, for us it wasn't that far. That was in (northwest) Portland.

TI: Right. So I was wondering if you knew that that's where you would end up.

FM: I think... well, then, a couple of days before we had to go, I finally realized that we were going to the livestock exposition grounds building there. And we had been there before. I remember going there prior (...). And a time or two I remember going there to watch rodeo performances taking place. And then they told us that's where we were going. Of course, I had no idea how they were going to, how they were going to construct the... people living there, but found out they did put floors in the stall area, and they even put a wooden floor on the arena. It was kind of crowded for us, because the family was big, there were ten of us, and they didn't have... the largest room probably was twenty-by-twenty, or maybe twenty-four... they went in four-foot sections because they had four-foot plywood, eight feet high, four foot wide, and they put these on vertically. (...) So for us, we were very crowded in the place. I think we were probably one of the bigger families that was evacuated to Portland Assembly Center. Well, maybe not. Because they had, you know, Japanese families were pretty large, they had some pretty good-sized ones there. But we did have ten people in the room.

TI: Now how did going to the Portland Assembly Center change the family dynamics?

FM: Well, from there on in, Tom, we didn't have a family. As I think about it now, we didn't have a family. That was about the time (...). I didn't speak to Mom hardly at all after that. You know, if you're living at home and with your parents six or eight hours a day, you have to speak to them (...). We didn't eat with them, we only slept with them. That was about the extent of the association that I had with my parents. And that continued completely all during the time we were in either that camp or in Minidoka. I didn't do hardly anything with my folks.

TI: So at this point you were like sixteen years old, because you probably just turned sixteen?

FM: I just turned sixteen after I had been in there a couple of weeks.

TI: Now was that true for your older siblings, too, or was this for the older two?

FM: No, my brother George... see, Henry pretty well stayed at home, I mean, stayed with the family, who was two years younger. But of course my sisters and my younger brother earl was only two years old, so he was naturally home. And my sisters were younger, so they stayed pretty much at home. But I know that I had found other friends, made other friends, did some work, and so I was gone, and certainly didn't eat with the family at home.

TI: So for you it was a pretty dramatic change.

FM: That was the end of my association with my family, you know, Mom and Pop family. And my other family, the rest of my siblings, too. I just don't know too much how, where my brother went. I know that he left, but I don't know when he left, there wasn't a particular time when George said, "Okay, I'm going to go to..." and I think he went to Chicago. But I don't know that we anticipated his leaving, and he was gone. One day he was gone, and that was it. But I regret that; that was a thing that I think I really missed. I lost all my ability to speak Japanese, which I didn't do too much to begin with, you know, but when that happened, that was the end of my association with them completely.

TI: Was that hard for your parents or your dad and mother that...

FM: I would imagine it was.

TI: And yet their hands were pretty full with the other...

FM: Yeah, they had kids, but I would imagine... I don't know that it was hard. I think they probably, you know, psychologically felt that their older family, older part of... you know, George and I, we left fairly quickly after, and I'm sure that they thought, "Oh, there goes my family." But on the other hand, I didn't talk to them at all.

TI: Did they ever, do you think they worried about you maybe being influenced by other people?

FM: They didn't talk to me that way. They did not talk to me to say, "Okay, you got to find your friends properly." But you know, in Minidoka, we didn't have that kind of a, we didn't have any problems with getting together with people that were renegades, kids. I think they were all pretty nice kids to begin with, so we didn't have that kind of a problem. I didn't feel that I needed to be talked to by my mom and dad about who I was friends with.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Going back to the Portland Assembly Center, any other events or memories before we move to Minidoka?

FM: Yeah. I got a job, I was sixteen. I don't know whether that made me eligible to get a job, but I think about sixteen was when I, the age that they started hiring people. I became, I was a busboy in the dining room. They had one large dining room, there were about 3,500 people there, I think. And they fed them in two shifts. And in order to do that, of course, the dining room had to feed about half of them, fifteen to seventeen hundred people in a very short period of time. I think we had about three hours... maybe not that much, maybe more like two hours to feed the 3,500 people. And so they had this, a whole bunch of picnic table-type tables, and each table had a... (...) waitress, and we would bring the, say, the dishes out from the kitchen, and they would set it up, and then we would bring the food out. And the food was placed on the plates before a bugle was blown to call the people in to eat. And, of course, there was not a whole heck of a lot of things to do, so by, say by eight o'clock in the morning, the whole perimeter of the dining room was just lined with people waiting to come to eat. And there was a group that ate the first shift, and then another group that ate the second shift. But when that bugle was blown, people just kind of rushed in, and about forty-five minutes later, they were through and out and gone. And we then had to bus the dirty dishes back. (...) The next meal was placed on the table, and within a total of about three hours from start to finish, we fed 3,500 people.

TI: That's an interesting process. I always thought of the meals being more cafeteria-style, and people had their trays, go through, and then they'd sit down. But I guess this would be, I guess...

FM: Quicker.

TI: Quicker. Because otherwise, if you had a lineup of 1,700 people, that would have taken...

FM: That would have taken four or five hours on its own, huh?

TI: Yeah, so you had to, like, get the food out there. The problem being it would get cold, though, the food.

FM: Yeah. And so we had a few hours... we fed 'em three meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food wasn't all that good, but we still had to feed 'em. So in between time, we had a little bit of time, but we worked nine hours, eight, nine hours a day every day that we were there working. And that day, we had to feed 'em every day that we were there.

TI: And so did you work seven days a week every day?

FM: Yeah, we worked seven days a week. (...) Fortunately we weren't there that long, totally. We were only there from May 'til about September when we had to leave.

TI: Now, do you remember how much you got paid to do that?

FM: Yeah, nine dollars a month. Nine dollars a month we were paid to do that. I don't know, I think that was probably not a professional job, hardly.

TI: Well, nine dollars a month, that works out to, like, thirty cents a day.

FM: [Laughs] Yeah, we didn't get too many. We had a canteen there, after a while a canteen was established to... I don't know what we bought, ice cream and things like that, things to eat.

TI: Now, why did you do this job? I mean, most teenagers, sixteen, rather than making thirty cents a day would rather do something else.

FM: Well, I felt that I had to keep busy, and I did. I wanted to be busy. We had a recreational program that involved baseball and a few things like that. But pretty much, it was just a drag not to do anything. I didn't do it right away initially, but it was kind of tough to sit and do nothing all day long. I just felt that I had to be doing something. I had... let me tell you a story. There was a contingent of people from the Washington... initially, the people that got there were all Oregon people. Not only Portland, but surrounding cities and so forth. We also had a contingent of people from the Yakima, Washington, area, Toppenish, Wapato, and that area there. And about the time I got the job in the dining room, a couple of the guys that worked with me were from there. Mas Jio and Kay Iko, and a couple other guys.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

FM: And so during my free time, I did play (...) baseball. And I started to play baseball with these guys. And one of the friends that I met there playing baseball was a guy named Heizi. And, of course, we had other times where we would just sit and talk. For me it was really the first time that I think I ever had any interest in women. Sixteen, you know, just about the right time. I don't know that I didn't have any interest, but I had the courage to talk to women. Anyhow, there was a group of... so we met a lot of people. But Heizi and a couple of girls from Milwaukie, Oregon... Milwaukie is another city contiguous to Portland, just south of Portland. And in time, they got, Heizi and Marge got pretty interested in each other. And I remember Marge became, was a friend initially. (...) The people from Yakima had to go to, I think they went to...

TI: Heart Mountain.

FM: Heart Mountain, is that where they went? Anyhow, Heizi was a good friend and Marge was a good friend, so I said, "Okay, Heizi, I'll watch her, I'll watch her for you when you go." And it turns out that Marge's family and our family just happened to be relocated to Minidoka into the same block, and I became real good friends with Marge. In fact, it got a point where we were, we started to go together, and Heizi never ever got there. I think one time he came to the camp.

TI: So did you ever feel guilty about that? Because you were supposed to watch Marge for him...

FM: Well, no, I didn't feel guilty, I just, of course, became enamored with Marge, you know.

TI: Now where was she from?

FM: She was from Milwaukie.

TI: Okay, so she was Milwaukie. So you met her at the Portland Assembly...

FM: Yeah, I met her at (...) Portland Assembly Center. And we... anyhow, we became good friends. We became more than good friends, you know. (...) When her sister had gone out of camp very early, because I think she was pregnant and they wanted their child to be born out of camp, outside of camp. So they left early '43 (...). He got a job in Independence, Missouri. And when they were out there for a while, Mr. Yoshizawa, that's Margie's dad, said, "You can't stay in this camp too much longer.

TI: He said that to Marge?

FM: Yeah. He told his daughter, Marge. And so, and he said, "Since your married sister, will agree to have you live with them, I want you go out (...) to live with them. Do that, please." And she consented to go. But by then, Marge and I were more than friends. And so when I was able to (...) leave camp, I left camp shortly after... in early '44 when I was a senior. (...) And I did that, and subsequently, anyhow, I married her. And we were married for sixty years before she died.

TI: So I'm sorry, so did you get married in...

FM: Not in...

TI: So when did you get married?

FM: It was '47. This was '44 that I left. But I went out... the reason (...) I wanted to go school, which I did. But I was seventeen. (...) They subsequently moved to... he worked on the Des Moines Register.

TI: So this is Marge's brother-in-law?

FM: Yeah, Marge's brother-in-law. (...) His name was Bob Hosokawa, who happened to, well, he was Bill's brother. Do you know that name, Hosokawa?

TI: Yeah, he was a journalist, too.

FM: Yeah, and Bob was a journalist, too.

TI: And didn't he end up in Florida? I'm trying to think where he ended up, someplace on the East Coast, I thought.

FM: He moved all over. (...) But when they moved to Des Moines, Iowa, I went there and started school at Drake. But this is when I was still seventeen and I was not yet even registered for the draft, but I did have to register for the draft there. And after I spent about a year in school, I was drafted.

TI: Okay. So I have a question for you about Marge. At what point did you think you were going to marry her?

FM: I think even before she left.

TI: So back in Minidoka?

FM: Yeah, back in Minidoka, yeah. I was pretty enamored with her.

TI: So tell me, what does dating look like at a place like Minidoka? What did the two of you do...

FM: Well, there's no place to date. But you know, we went to dances together, and we fortunately lived in the same block, (...) our association and our dating was going into the laundry room, that was about the only place that we had a place to sit and talk. We didn't do too much dating, per se. I guess the only thing we did was going to the dances that were held.

TI: Well how about even eating together? Since you guys were in the same block, did you guys eat together in the mess hall?

FM: I don't think I did. I didn't eat with her. (...) I didn't eat with her too much. (...) I probably did a little bit, but not often. She had her friends that she ate with, and I probably ate with my friends. But other than that, we were together. I helped her with schoolwork, I was one year ahead in school, and things like math, she didn't like, so I helped her there quite a bit.

TI: And then when she moved, when she left the camp, did you correspond?

FM: Oh, yeah. I corresponded with her often.

TI: Now, did the two of you keep those letters? Do you still have those letters?

FM: No. Although when I was in the service, Tom, she write me a letter every day, two years. And I wrote her every day also. It was free for me, and it was pretty nice, you know. It didn't even cost me the three cents that it cost her to send a letter. But she was very good to me.

TI: And what happened to all those letters? They just disappeared?

FM: Oh, after a while, we dumped 'em. That's too bad, huh?

TI: Yeah, I think that would have been priceless for your grandchildren and great grandchildren to have had those.

FM: Yeah. (...) Well, she started nurse's training in Des Moines when I was in the service. And in '47, we did get married. This is when I had been discharged from the service and I was in Portland helping my brother and father begin their grocery business.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Okay, so before we go there, let me just sort of summarize where we are. So after Puyallup, went to Minidoka. Halfway through your senior year, you had enough credits to graduate. You then left camp and eventually went to Des Moines, Iowa, to Drake University. Then you were... after a year of school, inducted into the military. You served in the Philippines?

FM: Well, initially, when we first, when I was first inducted, (...) all the Niseis at that time, and this was in late '44, were placed in enlisted reserve corps. And what they were doing was gathering a bunch of us together so that we could train as a company for replacement for the 442nd. We were in the infantry. As a matter of fact, I was in school (...). And when we went to be inducted, I went with my friends, there were two or three friends from school that I went to induction with.

TI: So these were non-Japanese?

FM: Yeah, they were Caucasians. And the guys were saying, "Well, I'm going to join the navy or the air corps," or whatever. And in fact, this one good friend said, (...) "Okay, we're gonna join the navy." So I went there, and we were gonna be inducted. And I'm seeing on my sheet of paper that we're carrying, and I had this big AO, and it was eight and a half by eleven sheet of paper, and it was AO about that big, covered the whole sheet of paper. And I said, "I want to join the navy." And he said, "No, you can't. See this?" And I said, "What does that mean?" "Army only." And so I could not serve in any other part of the service (...) except army.

TI: And was that because you were of Japanese ancestry?

FM: Japanese, yeah.

TI: Did he say that? Did he explain that to you, or how did you know that?

FM: No, when they said army only, then I realized, okay, that's it. And my friend went to the navy, and I was placed in the enlisted reserve corps from about September... October, November, December, I think about three months I was in the enlisted reserve corps. When there were enough people, enough Niseis gathered together to become large enough to support a company in training for the 442nd. (...) We got together in St. Louis, and we were there for a bit of time, that was January of '45. We were there an exceedingly long time, like three weeks we were there, just sitting. And then I think what they did was they realized they didn't need a replacement for the 442nd.

TI: Because the war in Europe was winding down?

FM: Yeah. (...) We were separated and went all different ways. I unfortunately went to the infantry, and the rifle-carrying part of the infantry. And I trained with guys that (...) learned to be infantry military. When we finished in April, they were scheduled to go to the Pacific. Then, of course, they wouldn't send me there. I wasn't the only one, but they were maybe three or four Niseis in that company. (...) They asked me what I wanted to do, and they had... guys were getting discharged from the company, oh, what do you call it? The permanent people there. They needed people to become part of that cadre, and so that's what I did. Most of my time in the service I stayed in Camp Hood, Texas.

TI: Helping to train people?

FM: Yeah, train some incoming guys. (...) I didn't want to go to Fort Snelling, although they were looking for people to go there.

TI: Now, why did you say that? Why did you not want to go to Fort Snelling?

FM: Well, my Japanese was so poor. It's amazing how much I lost from that year and a half or two years that I was there. I didn't learn Japanese too well to begin with, which I regret, really. I wish I had learned that better, then I maybe would have had much more of an inclination to go to the MIS. My brother did, he spent quite a bit of time in the MIS, older brother.

TI: So this is George?

FM: George, yeah. But anyhow, finally they sent me there. They just put me on orders to go there, (...) when I took the test, there were classes one through, I think, fifteen, and I ended up in class thirteen. The lower ones mean the...

TI: The weaker Japanese.

FM: Yeah, weaker in Japanese. So I (...), finally, went to class for two months, that's all. And then when the decided again that they didn't need as many interpreters and translators and things like that (...). Anyhow, that's when I ended up going to the Philippines, and I did, toward the very end of my army career, military career (...). I kind of enjoyed... (...) being there, but I think it was good for me to see other parts of the world. Shortly after the war in the Philippines at that time, this is 1946, it was even less than a year after Japan had surrendered, and nothing had been rebuilt yet by any means. (...) I was in Manila, and (...) the whole area was just a shambles. They had just kind of swept the streets, and that was about it. I worked for a while in a printing plant, and then I came home.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: And then that's when you eventually went back to Drake?

FM: Yeah, I went back. And then the following year in '47, when George and my dad decided that they would begin a grocery business in Portland (...). I think it was about six months or so before they got things going. But in the meanwhile, Marge's folks... well, they lived in Milwaukie, (...) they went back to the house that they lived in, actually. And Marge came back on a (...) leave from the nurse's training from Iowa, and we, on very short notice, decided to get married there with the parents there and the family there.

TI: Oh, so it just happened to work out timing-wise that you had returned and she was on leave, the families were all there.

FM: Right. And I knew that I was going to go back to Drake at least (...) for a while.

TI: And she was still going to school in...

FM: In Des Moines.

TI: Des Moines.

FM: Yeah, so she had not finished her nurse's training. So she went back and I went back.

TI: But at that point you returned as a married couple, though?

FM: (...) But she went back alone, because I still had (...) work to help George and Pop get the grocery store business going. And I stayed back 'til sometime in September probably.

TI: Okay, and then you then returned.

FM: I returned to Drake for another year. Drake is a liberal arts college, and I was taking an engineering course. (...) When she graduated as an RN, we moved up to Ames, Iowa, where Iowa State University is. Kind of like Washington State.

TI: University of Washington, or Washington State. And this is where you got your engineering degree?

FM: Yeah, I finally got my engineering degree. I'm a mechanical engineer.

TI: During this time, 1940, when you're going to school in Iowa, back in Oregon, Portland, there was the Vanport Flood?

FM: Yeah.

TI: And I think you told me earlier that that's where the store was located.

FM: Well, the store was located in Portland, but they were living in Vanport.

TI: Okay, they were living in Vanport.

FM: Living in Vanport. When they had the flood, they lost everything, and all of my stuff, the few things that I had gathered between Minidoka and that time, (...) the majority of it was my military uniforms and stuff like that, the few things that I had gathered. And that was all lost then. (It) just quickened their getting their own house. They were there in Vanport and it got flooded out, so they bought a house someplace near where their grocery store was.

TI: So you mentioned you lost everything that you accumulated between Minidoka up to that point, the Vanport flood at the house. How about the belongings before the war? Were there some things there that were, what happened to those things?

FM: Well, the stuff before the war, again, being a poor family, we didn't have a whole lot. But you still have household goods, and our household goods at the time we moved into Portland Assembly Center was placed in an upstairs of a barn that... a friend of ours had (...). He rented the whole farm to some guy, and about six months later, Ed ceased to get his rent money. And not only our stuff was in the upstairs of this barn, but probably maybe another six or eight other families had their stuff placed there. And when Ed had it investigated, everything that was in the upstairs of this barn was all gone. And so when we left Portland (...), whatever we had accumulated was gone. (...) When the family moved into Portland Assembly Center and subsequently Minidoka, we had the stuff that we carried in our suitcases, and that's all we had. And so the household goods were all gone.

TI: And what would those things be? What were some of the things...

FM: Oh, dishes, a few things like that. Clothing, extra clothing. We didn't have any Japanese goods left by then because we were one of the families, (...) that destroyed Japanese (items), I remember doing that.

TI: Oh, so destroying documents?

FM: Destroying documents, pictures. We did kendo when we were there and living in Portland, and I remember burning that kind of stuff. A lot of kendo stuff, a lot of it was metal. And not only it burned, but we had to dig deep holes to get rid of that. (...) Kendo has the swords were (that) split bamboo. We had a bundle of swords, I would imagine they were that big, we must have had fifty of them. And they burned pretty well, though.

TI: So I'm curious, why... and maybe my timing's off a little bit, but after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the next day, you had those...

FM: People coming?

TI: ...soldiers, yeah, coming, and they kind of checked everything out. Did you burn the stuff after that?

FM: Oh, it was after that. Within probably that week maybe.

TI: But why did you feel a need to do that? Because the soldiers probably already saw that stuff.

FM: Yeah, well, I don't know whether it was the FBI, but there were some civilian people there too.

TI: But I would think that you would have thought, well, they checked it out, and that stuff must be okay?

FM: Yeah... no, Dad didn't think that, I guess, unfortunately. Because I know that we burned a whole lot of stuff. Pictures...

TI: Yeah, so probably your connections Japan.

FM: Yeah, all the connections.

TI: Things that would you help you learn more about your family and things like that.

FM: We burned a lot, we just destroyed that sort of thing, the connection that we had with Japan. Like you say, maybe we should have been a little bit more understanding and kept 'em, it would have been nice. But on the other hand...

TI: You would have lost all the stuff anyway.

FM: We would have lost all that anyhow.

TI: That's true, you would have lost it all anyway. So that would, in some ways, may have been even more painful. Interesting.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So I just want to kind of finish up a little bit, so after you finished...

FM: School?

TI: Yeah, you got your engineering degree, let's talk a little bit about your work life. So what did you do after you graduated?

FM: Well, I got a job with the army arsenal designing rocket launchers. You know... the guys that were in (...) infantry learned to shoot bazookas. This is the kind of stuff that I designed, helped design. I worked there for a couple of years, and I realized that I had a real bad allergy to ragweed that was growing in the Midwest, so I had to leave the area. And the only place that ragweed didn't grow at that time was Pacific Northwest. And so it was, to get a job west of the Cascades. And I know there were probably a lot of other places, but Boeing was a very logical place to come to, and I did get a job with Boeing. I don't know, I know that there were other Niseis that were already working for Boeing, 1952, but I think they started maybe a little bit earlier than that. But prior to that, they could not get a job here even after the war. '46, '47, I think, is about when (...) Boeing finally started to hire guys to work for them in various projects.

(...) I came here in '52, and my first programs that I worked on, well, (...) got into a group that did... it was air conditioning, heat transfer type work, and that's what I did. I worked on the B-52 airplane, and I don't know how many times I would analyze the heat, the temperature of the various compartments in the B-52 and how much air conditioning I needed to do that, or the heating I needed to do that in order to maintain the proper temperatures in the 52. (...) I stayed with that kind of work for five or six years. (...)

TI: B-52, military?

FM: Yeah, it was all military.

TI: Space program?

FM: I did get into the space program later, but I did work in preliminary design, but it was in the flight deck design area.

TI: Right, you mentioned like that human engineering?

FM: Yeah, (...) and so you just kind of lead into that kind of a thing. I was doing air conditioning in the flight deck, and then there was work to be done in the flight deck design (...). And then when that happened, you get into the human factors, the human engineering part of it. And so at the end of 1950s, (...) I was doing work on space design, I mean, you know, this is way, way before we got into space work.

TI: Yeah, so you were really cutting edge, this was all brand new stuff.

FM: It was really, yeah. I was doing it since I was in the flight deck area where people were, I was doing work trying to determine how you were going to sleep in a space station, we did sleeping, eating, going to the bathroom, cooking.

TI: Now was this when you were based in Huntsville?

FM: No, not yet.

TI: Oh, this is still, you're in Seattle?

FM: Still in Seattle. And I worked quite a bit, and we had a program called the... (Dynasear), it was a prelude to the Discovery vehicles that we had going up to the space station.

TI: Okay. And then from there, you spent a few years at Huntsville, Alabama, continuing kind of your work in the space program?

FM: Yeah, same sort of thing. There was a job open in Huntsville, so I said, okay, we will go. Of course, that involved taking the whole family.

TI: And at this point, how many children did you have?

FM: I had three kids, and they were pretty young. The oldest was in junior high, or just beginning junior high. But we did go to Huntsville and spent three years there. And again, working in that same general area of air conditioning sort of thing, and human factors engineering. And then I got into ground support equipment design, and we were... by then, (...) the space program, the Moon Shot program, was well on its way. We had a ground support equipment design and maintenance contract with NASA. Boeing had another... of course, they were primarily the designers and the manufacturers of the first stage of that big rocket.

TI: This is the Apollo?

FM: Yeah. Well, the Apollo was the capsule, (...). And S-1C was the first stage, the big first stage with the five engines, you know. And that was going on. And when I got to Kennedy, I was working in the ground support equipment, the other part of it, not the vehicle, but we had to design and maintain the equipment that supported the launch of that big stage, the Saturn V. I got there to Florida in 1966, and I was able to be there 'til '73.

TI: So you were there, boy, the real heydays.

FM: Exactly, yeah.

TI: Landing on the moon?

FM: Right. We made seventeen launches (...). The first one (...) was an unmanned, but it was a circumnavigating (...) launch. But we had a lot of interesting times there, very good times. Probably the best program that I was ever on.

TI: Well, and I think about your life, I mean, earlier we talked about how your parents were in this small (...) village on the Izu Peninsula and how your life would have been so different if they had decided to stay there, and you were born there rather than in Portland. And then, in some ways, the war changed your trajectory, too, I mean, it made you go to the Midwest and go to college.

FM: Well, I think the war and the consequences of it probably caused me to go to school. I wanted to go to school anyhow...

TI: Because you didn't want to be a farmer you said.

FM: Yeah. I felt from a very, early on, when I was working on the farm helping Dad, that I did not want to become a farmer. And so I think the war (...) and the consequences of it probably had a lot to do with my going to school, getting a job, and I guess I could have done other things, but I became an engineer and this work that I did with the space station, with Boeing... with Boeing I stayed always in the military side of the (...) company, rather than going to commercial. But when I did get to the (...) space station program, I will say that that was probably the most interesting job that I had, and exciting to see the first launch of the thing, although it was unmanned (...). But from there on in, we had people in it and going to the moon. (It was 511 that did the) moon landing, and then we had 513, which had the problem (...). But we were sitting on pins and needles because we were there.

TI: Well, you were part of this team.

FM: Yeah, we started them all. And it was kind of scary to know that these guys were up there in trouble. But Houston was able to bring 'em back.

TI: What an amazing story. So, Frank, we've gone longer than I thought we were, it's two and a half hours, so is there anything else that you wanted to mention?

FM: No, not particularly.

TI: No, but thank you so much. This was, it was just fascinating. I mean, again, the interesting thing about your story is, boy, no one could have predicted your life.

FM: Yeah, the involvement from possibly being a fisherman's kid in Japan in this little town in Japan to what I did, I think.

TI: To helping land a man on the moon.

FM: Oh, yeah. Very good.

TI: Well, thank you so much.

FM: Yeah, okay.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2015 Densho. All Rights Reserved.