Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kanji Sahara Interview
Narrator: Kanji Sahara
Interviewer: Brian Niiya
Location: Torrance, California
Date: October 5, 2018
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-448

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

BN: Okay, so it's... I should know the date, it's October 5th, and we're in Torrance, and we're interviewing Kanji Sahara. So, I wondered if you could just give your full name and date of birth.

KS: Okay. My name is Kanji Sahara, and I was born April 4, 1934, in Hiroshima-ken, Japan. So in Hiroshima, they have small islands to the west of the city, and there was an island called Nomijima, and that's where I was born in 1934.


BN: Now, your parents were Issei, so it's sort of happenstance that you happened to be born in Japan.

KS: Right.

BN: Talk a little bit about it, maybe how your parents, a little bit about your parents' background and how they came to the U.S.

KS: Okay, so then my father was from Hiroshima also, and he was born on, lived on the mainland in a place called Kaichi, and then my mother was from the island. And then they were married around 1920 or '21 or something like that. So then they lived in California, and then they had three daughters. And around 1933 or so, my mother's grandfather got sick, so then she decided to go visit him, so she brought the three girls with her. And then when she went to Japan she had a doctor sign this statement that said that she was so many months pregnant. So would you let the child come in about that age? And the reason she had to get that form was that we had the 1924 exclusion act, so there were no more people that's coming from Japan. So while they were there, my mother and the three girls were there, then I was born. And meanwhile, my father was still staying in California. And then in August of 1934, the three girls and I and then my mother and another lady came back to the U.S.

BN: So you were born in April, so you were five, six months old.

KS: That's true.

BN: Did your mom know that she was pregnant when she went back?

KS: Yes, so she had to have this form signed that said that she was pregnant, because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to come into the U.S.

BN: Right, because you were not born yet. Whereas her and your sisters could come back, they were already established in the U.S. To go back to your parents, were they married in the U.S. or Japan?

KS: I think they were married in Japan. My father, he came to the U.S. sometime around 1910 or so. But it goes back to my grandfather on my father's side. Now, he was in the U.S. around 1900, but he lived most of the time in Japan, and then whenever he thought that a son should go to the U.S., he would use the Gentlemen's Agreement form that said that anybody that once lived in the U.S. would go from Japan to the U.S., so he could get a visa. So when the son was ready to go to the U.S., he would come first because of that form, and then once he was in the U.S., he would use the second provision of the Gentlemen's Agreement that said you could have immediate family come to the U.S., so then he'll call his son over from Japan. And that's called yobiyose, so he used that for the oldest son, and then he went back to Japan. And then when it was time for my father to come, my grandfather came to the U.S. first and did the same thing. So my grandfather did that four times for the four sons that he wanted to come to the U.S.

BN: And your father was the second?

KS: My father was the second, yeah.

BN: What was your grandfather's business?

KS: Oh, I'm not exactly sure, but I think they had land, so they were farming. So I think he was like an entrepreneurial or go-getter or whatever, so he lived on Hiroshima on the mainland, and then meanwhile, on my mother's side, she lived on the island of Nomijima. And her father died when she was an infant, so in Japan the custom in that case was that if a father dies, then the grandparents get the child instead of the mother. So my mother's mother didn't have a child, but my mother's grandfather now raised her. And then I think my mother's grandfather and my mother's father, I think they knew each other for a long time, so it looked like they had a lot of negotiations and stuff like that in the past. So when my father's father thought it was time for my father to get married, then he'll just think, who's an appropriate girl, and oh, yeah, I know that guy over there on Nomijima, let me go talk to him. And I think that's how they arranged the marriage, that the families, they knew each other.

BN: And that was pretty standard for Issei.

KS: Right.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

BN: So your father must have been pretty young when he first came to the U.S.

KS: Yeah, I'm not exactly sure, but I think under the age of twenty.

BN: And then what did he do, and where did he come to the U.S.?

KS: So he came to the U.S., and I think he did a lot of bracero type work, where you go from farm to farm picking fruits, because he mentions that. And then I think over there at Little Tokyo, kitty corner from JANM, Japanese American National Museum, I think there were rooming houses like that around there. So if you lived there, then I think what would happen is that in the morning, a truck would come looking for laborers, and I think that's one way they got their jobs. But I think he did a lot of fruit picking and stuff like that.

BN: Primarily in California?

KS: Yeah.

BN: Southern California?

KS: Right. So he did that in Southern California. And then after he got married, I think he settled down. And the thing that he did before the war was that he had a fruit stand, fruit and vegetable stand at a market. So there were hundreds of those in southern California. And then the way it usually worked was there's a hakujin guy that would be the butcher and do the sales of the canned goods, commodities, and the Japanese guy would run the fruit and vegetables. So then if you ran the fruit and vegetable, that meant that so many times a week, you'd have to drive down to the produce market in your state truck, and get all the fruits and vegetables and then bring it to the market, and they had to wash it and display it. In those days, they used to have these stores, in the front they had accordion doors. So you open the accordion doors and push out the stands which were on rollers, they'd have these stands, the fruit stands, partially on the sidewalk. So that's what he did for five, ten years, and I think lots of Japanese were doing that. So my father was working for another guy that did that kind of work, and then he learned the trade, and then he did it on his own. But that's a difficult work because you have to work six days a week. And they had to wake up early in the morning, like three o'clock or so, and go down to the produce market, and they had to probably work until six or seven at night. But that's what he did before the war.

BN: You may have mentioned it, but I want to just clarify, your father and your mother's names?

KS: Okay, my father's name was Shosaku Sahara. And then his maiden last name was Tatsui. Now, my mother's name was Ayako Sahara, and then when they got married, then my father changed his last name to Sahara because he had a lot of brothers, lot of other Tatsuis, and my mother was the only child, so they wanted to save that Sahara name.

BN: Ah, I see. I forget the term for that. What is that called?

KS: I forgot, too.

BN: So he ran a fruit, a retail produce stand.

KS: Right.

BN: Where was it?

KS: Okay, so it was on Pico and Los Angeles, and I think it was close to Vermont. But I'm not... I mean, I went there after the war, maybe about five years ago, drove by, and I forgot what it is now. But it was located around there.

BN: And you're the youngest of four?

KS: Right.

BN: And then your two older sisters are quite a bit older, right?

KS: Yeah. So then I was born in 1934, and I think my oldest sister was born in 1944, and then the second was 1926.

BN: And then the third was pretty close.

KS: Right.

BN: I forget now with regard to your sisters, but you have only a Japanese name? You don't have a quote/unquote "English name."

KS: Right.

BN: Did you always just go by Kanji or did you have a nickname, or did someone give you an "American," quote/unquote name?

KS: So my name is Kanji, and then my oldest sister's name was Mariko, and then a lot of people shortened that to Mike. And then my second sister was Sumire, and she shortened it to Sue. And my third sister was Toshiko, and she shortened it to To. But I always went by Kanji.

BN: No Kan?

KS: No.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

BN: So then where did they live?

KS: We lived in... okay, first of all, my parents, they looked like they moved around all the time, because they always talked about where they lived there or where they lived there.

BN: But this is before you were born.

KS: Yeah, before I was born. So then right now there's a place called Koreatown, but before the war, that used to be a Japanese ghetto. So then before the war and even after the war, there was a restrictive housing covenant in Los Angeles, so the Japanese could live in only twenty percent of the area of Los Angeles, and one was called Uptown. And Uptown was on both sides of Olympic Boulevard, from between around Vermont to Western. So after the war our family lived on the north side of Olympic, on a street called Dewey. And on that street, from Dewey to where we lived, was 100 percent Japanese. From where we lived north to the next street was 100 percent non-Japanese. So the line between, in the restrictive housing covenant was in your backyard. You lived south of that, it was Japanese, north of that, non-Japanese. And then I didn't realize it, but I just played with the people that lived in that ghetto area. And then the school that we went to was called Hobart, so then all of us used to walk together every morning to Hobart, and maybe that might have been about a mile away. But Hobart had both Japanese and non-Japanese.

BN: So what street did you live on?

KS: Dewey. The name of our street is Dewey.

BN: That was kind of the dividing line?

KS: No. See, on Dewey, the part of Dewey that's from Olympic to halfway up the block, was 100 percent Japanese. And from there to the next street was 100 percent non-Japanese. So then the dividing line was the middle of the block. So the south of it was Japanese, north of it was non-Japanese. And I think all the streets around there was divided like that.

BN: I wonder why it would be in the middle of the block and not...

KS: I don't know, but that's how it was. So then that's where we lived after we came back from Japan. Before they went to Japan, before I was born, they lived on the south side of Dewey Avenue. So like I said, that school was a lot of Japanese there, and then most of the children were Nisei. I think there was one Japanese family on our block, the parents were Nisei, so their children would be Sansei. But everybody else, the students were Nisei. And then at our school, the principal knew that children didn't speak English, so when you went to school, you had to go to kindergarten for two years. And then after the end of the first year, you learned English, so now you could do regular kindergarten work. So I think like myself, before I started kindergarten, I was just speaking Japanese. So once, I remembered I had to go to the hospital, so my oldest sister was teaching me English words so that when I get to the hospital, I was supposed to speak. So I got a crash course in how to speak English when I go to the hospital. But anyway, at that elementary school, you learned English in the first year of kindergarten, and then now you're ready for the regular work.

BN: Was there a Japanese name for that community?

KS: Yeah, the Japanese name for that community was Uemachi. Ue means "up," just like Uptown. So then we had Uemachi, and then there's Japanese town, Nihonmachi.

BN: So because you were kind of right on the boundary line, were your friends both Japanese and non-Japanese?

KS: No, the friends were 100 percent Japanese. Now, there were a lot of... first of all, I don't think there was any mixing between the Japanese and the non-Japanese. And then like my mother used to go work, too. So then after the kids went to school, then I think she took the streetcar or something and went to work. But over there, when the kids went to school, everybody walked. And the parents never went to school, so it was the job of the older children to look after the younger children. And then, now, like if you're sick and you have to have a note or something, then the oldest sister would have to write the note to the teacher saying that you were sick and so forth like that. But the main thing was that the children all walked together to the school. It was the job of the older children to look after the younger children.

BN: What percentage of the school then was Japanese?

KS: I'm not sure what the percentage was. Maybe twenty or thirty percent of whatever.

BN: So not half, but a significant...

KS: Yeah, I'm not exactly sure.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

BN: Did you have to go to a Japanese language school?

KS: Yes. In this Uptown, there were two churches, Christian church called St. Mary's, and there was an Episcopal church, and then there was a Buddhist church. So each church had their own Japanese language school. You belonged to one church or the other, which meant you belonged to one language school or the other. So we belonged to St. Mary's, and they had a language school after class. So on the way home, then we had to stop off at the language school and do one hour of Japanese language. So I think I did that for three years or so.

BN: Were your parents Christian?

KS: Yeah, my father was Christian. I don't know if he was Christian in Japan or not, he might have been Christian in Japan before he immigrated. But when he was here, before he got married, then I think he used to associate with Christian people. So there were a lot of bachelors that he hung around church and stuff like that, and I think that's what my father did. And then after my mother got married to my father, she used to go to church, St. Mary's church in Los Angeles. Then I think when she went to, when we lived in Chicago, is I think when she got... I don't know if that's when she got baptized or not, but she became a Christian later. My father was Christian all the time.

BN: Did you like Japanese school, or it was just something to deal with?

KS: Well, Japanese school, lot of thing is that that's what everybody else does. So we used to go to Japanese language school, and I didn't think anything of it. I thought that was what you're supposed to do. I told you that we went to, my family went to Japan about 1933, so that time my oldest sister was around nine or so, and the second one was a few years younger. So in Japan, those two girls now had to go to the local public school. So they went to school in Japan for one year. So their Japanese had to be pretty good, or else you'd be in big trouble. But I think at that time, a lot of families thought that they might go back to Japan one day, so they wanted the Niseis to learn about how to speak and write Japanese.

BN: But they came back with the family and stayed?

KS: Yeah, they came back, that's right. My mother always thought that when they were in Japan, her grandparents wanted my third sister to stay in Japan when we came back in 1934, but my mother said no, we're going to stick together. So all the girls and I, we came back to the U.S. But I think that was common, in a situation like that, they might leave one son behind in Japan and come to the U.S.

BN: Now, you were the only son after three girls. Did you get special treatment because of that?

KS: No, I don't think so. I think the oldest always gets the special treatment.

BN: Can you describe your parents a little, just in terms of personality, what your recollection of them was? Were they involved in lots of community activities, were they outgoing, were they more quiet?

KS: Yeah, they were more quiet, and not too outgoing. And then my mother liked to read Japanese newspapers, so then she liked the Kashu Mainichi. So she was getting that after the war in Chicago, she was always getting the Kashu Mainichi. Then she always got a lot of those Japanese magazines and stuff like that.

BN: Any involvement in business associations, kenjinkai, that kind of thing?

KS: No. Well, everybody was in a kenjinkai before the war, so we were in the Hiroshima Kenjinkai. Then every year, the kenjinkai would have a picnic, and I remember going to the picnic and then I remember one year at the picnic I got lost. I didn't know where my family was, but I got lost twice in my youth, once at a kenjinkai picnic and once in a sporting event. So since then I try to keep track of where I am.

BN: But obviously you were reunited.

KS: Right.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

BN: You were very young at the time, but did you have to help out at the family business?

KS: No. So when we went into camp in 1942, I was eight years old. But my second sister was, in 1942 she was... what would that be, about fourteen years old or something like that. So then she would take the streetcar, make a transfer and stuff like that, go from home to the market, and then she would be a saleslady. So my mother always marveled at my second sister, that she would be standing behind the stand and then when a customer was walking by, she would go up to the customer and try to get them to buy the produce and stuff like that. So I had a feeling that my father and mother would stand behind the counter there while my sister would run up to the people walking on the street to try to get them to buy things. But I was still eight years old, so I didn't go work at the store yet.

BN: Any, as a kid, were you involved in things like Scouting or sports?

KS: Okay. Now, over there on Dewey, I don't know if anybody was in Scouts. The only stuff that we used to play was battle. So we had what you call rubber guns, and these were all homemade. So you get the inner tube... before, they used to have inner tube for a tire, and they cut them in strips and then you attach them to a gun. And the gun was all homemade. So you had a rifle or you had a pistol, so you had a homemade gun. Now, I was eight years old or younger, so my father did not make my gun. The neighborhood boy that lived next-next door, he would make my gun. So he would make my gun, and then he'll also get the inner tube and make me the rubber bands for the gun. So that was how it was, I think. The job of the older boy was to look after the younger boy, so that if I needed a gun, then I have to go ask him to make me a gun. So we used to play that almost every day.

BN: So in that scenario, who was the good guys and who was the bad guys? Was it a cowboy and Indian thing?

KS: I'm not sure if it's cowboy, Indian, or Japan against China, or Japan against U.S. or something like that.

BN: In that scenario, would Japan be the good guys or the bad guys?

KS: I think Japan might be the good guys. And we used to have a gun battle almost every day in the front yard. You know, some of the front yards didn't have walls, went from one front yard to another in a battle. I went to look at the front yards about five years ago, and I realized these front yards are so tiny. Once upon a time it was a great place to have battles, but when you look at it now, it's such tiny front yards that they had.

BN: Are the buildings still there?

KS: Some of them, yeah, they're still there. But the yards are so tiny. And then the neighborhood is really run down now.

BN: Did your family go the Little Tokyo very often?

KS: Yeah, we went there infrequently, and then we also used go to Broadway, where they have shopping. So then all the stores were on Broadway, so Mother used to take us.

BN: Did you have a car?

KS: My father had a state truck, and then we had a passenger car. So then the passenger car would sit in the garage six days, and only Sunday, bring it out. Meanwhile, the whole week, would be driving the state truck to the market and stuff like that.

BN: So the produce stand was open every day except Sunday.

KS: Right.

BN: So Sunday was a day off.

KS: Right.

BN: And did the family go to church?

KS: Yeah, we went to the St. Mary's Episcopal Church. So then my...

BN: This was, I'm assuming, a Japanese church?

KS: Yeah, it was a Japanese church. It was a Japanese church, and their minister was John Yamasaki, who was well-known. So then they used to have, I guess, the equivalent of Fujinkai, and they have PTA and stuff like that. So then my mother would go to those quite a bit. And then my father didn't go to church too much, but then finally realized that my father was Presbyterian, and this is an Episcopal church. And a lot people don't think there's too much difference, but I guess, for him, Episcopal and Presbyterian is different.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

BN: And then other than when you were born, did the family ever go back to Japan?

KS: No, we never went back to Japan. So then my parents, after my mother came back in 1934, they never went back to Japan.

BN: Did they keep in touch, though, with relatives?

KS: Right. So they kept in touch, and then on my father's side, I told you there were four boys here. And then before the war started, the oldest boy, he had one son and two daughters, I think they finished Hollywood High. So right before the war, that family went back to Japan. So then that family, that was the oldest son, so he brought his wife and three kids to Japan. And then just before the war started, he came back to the U.S. but left the wife and three children in Japan. So the wife and three children were in Japan during the war, and then one of the daughters were killed in the a-bomb. But the father came back to the U.S., and then the way it worked was that before the war, we used to get together, I think it was three times a year, Thanksgiving, New Year's, and Christmas. So we've got four brothers and the children, we'd get together, so we had a real good time. And the main thing I noticed was that was the only time that we ever got to drink soda water. Nowadays we drink soda water every day, but those days, it was only on special occasions like that that you had soda water.

BN: Did your father's other brothers also have children?

KS: Yeah.

BN: Were they closer to your age?

KS: Yeah, they were both older than me and younger than me. So now, finally turned out that two brothers went to Manzanar, one went to Heart Mountain, and then our family went to Jerome and Rohwer.

BN: So they were all in the L.A. area?

KS: Yeah. So then the war split up the family. So before the war, the four brothers used to get together as much as they could. But the war caused the family plan to split up.

BN: Because you were born in Japan, you were technically Issei, you were not a U.S. citizen, right? Was that an issue at all at this point?

KS: No. I knew I was born in Japan, but I didn't realize anything about it. Except after I graduated from high school, I was going to go to college, so I enrolled in the Illinois Institute of Technology. Over there, the way it worked is that -- this is before computers, this is 1952 -- so then in the gym, there would be tables all around the walls. And the table would be the different departments, and on the table would be the IBM cards. So each class had thirty IBM cards or whatever for the number of students for that class. So you'd go up to a table and say, "I want to take that class. Could I have that card?" And when they gave you the card, now you were enrolled in that class. So I went up to the Air Force ROTC class, and I said, "I want to take ROTC. Could I have the freshman ROTC class?" And the guy said, "Are you Japanese?" and I said, "Yeah." Then he said, "Well, graduates of this class or this course in college will become a second lieutenant. And since you're not a U.S. citizen, and you can never become a U.S. citizen, you can't have this class." He said, "Well, you can sit in the back, but you can't get any credit because you can't become an officer." So that's the first time I realized there was a difference between a citizen and a person that can never become a citizen.

BN: Never at that time.

KS: Right.

BN: Okay, we'll get back to that later. But, so when you were a kid, it was not an issue.

KS: Right.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

BN: Wanted to then jump now to the war. Do you have any recollection or stories about what you and your family were doing on that Sunday, December 7th?

KS: No, I don't remember. But I remember the lady at the end of the cul-de-sac was really excited that day, but I didn't know what was going on. And then I was eight years old, well, 1941 I was still seven. But then I really didn't know what was going on, and all I knew is that one day we went up to that St. Mary's church, and that's where the buses came. So then I don't know how many buses there were, maybe twenty buses there, so we got on the bus. And then at that time, you could also drive to camp. So my father had his truck, and then he brought his belongings in the truck while my mother and the three girls and myself, we got on the bus, and then we went to Santa Anita. And I think that was the longest bus ride I had, from Uptown to Arcadia. Before the war, we used to go to the beach, we used to go to Brighton Beach, from Uptown down to San Pedro. I guess Brighton Beach was on Terminal Island, that was a really long trip. And we would always worry that we don't get a flat tire on that trip, but it was a special occasion to go to Brighton Beach.

BN: And you never got a flat.

KS: No, we never got the flat tire.

BN: Any memories of... between Pearl Harbor and when people, the mass of the population had to be removed, you had the arrest of a lot of Issei community leaders. Were you aware of that, friends...

KS: No, I don't think anybody on Dewey got arrested, but I think I remember people making crate boxes and stuff like that, and they're going to store things in somebody's basement and stuff like that. So that was what's going on.

BN: You met at the church?

KS: That's where the bus met, at the church.

BN: But the leaders of the church were not interned?

KS: I don't think so.

BN: They're Christian, so they're less likely. Do you know what happened with regard to the family business?

KS: I don't know who took over. So then my father did the produce part, and then the other guy did the meat and commodities part. And when I was in Santa Anita, I got eye trouble. Over there, they had the parking lot, we all lived in the parking lot. It was too bright or something, so I got the pink eye. And then somehow my mother got it such that I went to the L.A. County Hospital that's by the I-10 freeway now. So I took the ambulance from Santa Anita to that hospital. And at that time, then my father's partner from the produce, hakujin guy came to visit me at the hospital. But I think my father never met him after he went to camp, but I saw him once when he came to visit me.

BN: And your family didn't go back to L.A., so presumably the business got sold or something.

KS: Right.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

BN: Going to Santa Anita, if you're in the parking lot, that means you weren't in the horse stall?

KS: Right. So the way Santa Anita, they had 18,000 people living there, of which 8,000 were in the parking lot and 10,000 were in the barracks that were built on the parking lot. Now, my uncle that I was telling you about, that went back to Japan and came back, he lived in the stables while our family lived in the barracks part. So I remember visiting him, my father took me to visit my uncle in the stables, and then one day my father took me to the shower in the stables, too. Santa Anita had 18,000 people, I don't know how many latrines they had, but I think we had only six shower buildings. Each shower building had to accommodate, what, 3,000 people. But if you went to the shower building in the stables, it was really big because it was built for horses. So I was amazed that, wow, look at these guys, they have a nice, big shower building. But we lived in the barracks.

BN: Do you remember your camp address?

KS: It was T-16. Oh, yeah, that's the one I got lost again. I don't know if they didn't have any house number that time. It was the first day in Santa Anita, I went to the toilet, latrine, and then I knew that we were in the end unit, but I couldn't find out the barrack. So I went from barrack to barrack on the end unit to see if that was my family. And when I was doing that, then somebody that was living down in Dewey Avenue, said, "Oh, yeah, there's Kanji, we know where he lives," so then they took me to my family. But I got lost on that first day at Santa Anita.

BN: Were the people around you in your block or your area also from your neighborhood?

KS: Right. So the way it worked is we all got on the bus at the same area, the Episcopal church, and there was a Father John, the elder, there was a son that was also, I think, a minister. So one minister was the first person to get on the bus, and the other minister was the last person to get on the bus. So that way everybody was sandwiched between the two ministers. So then we went to Santa Anita, and as you got off the bus, they assigned you to a room, the barracks, so that now you were in sequence. So everybody, as you got off the bus is how you were assigned to a room in Santa Anita. So everybody in the block, I mean, everybody in the barrack, was once on the bus together. And we were in Santa Anita and now they're going to send us to the permanent concentration camp, and then half went to Gila, and the other half went to Jerome with one of the ministers.

BN: Half of your, from your neighborhood.

KS: Half of the Uptown went to Gila, and the other half went to Jerome. And then Father John, the senior, went to Jerome and the son went to Gila. So now in Jerome, I was in Block 19, which was Uptown people. And I was in Barrack 8. So I was in Barrack 8, and then in Unit A. The way that the barrack was divided in Jerome was each barrack was divided into six units. So then the two ends were the large ones, and the next one was a tiny one, and then the middle is two medium ones. So it goes large, tiny, medium, medium, tiny, large. So that's how the barracks were cut up. And on the A, the large one was the same family that I told you that lived on Dewey that was making my rubber gun. So the guy that was making my rubber gun in Dewey was not in Unit A, and in Unit C and D, that's where our family was. So we had three girls and myself, we had six in the family, so we got two units, C and D. Now, the other family that had one girl and two boys, they were Unit A. So like I said, we were living on the same block in Uptown, and now we're living in the same barrack in Jerome.

BN: And similarly in Santa Anita it was the same.

KS: Right.

BN: So your friends from the neighborhood were nearby.

KS: Yeah. So then the cross street... so we were Barrack 8, and the way the barracks were designed --

BN: You're talking about Jerome?

KS: Jerome. The way the barracks were designed in Jerome and also in Rohwer, they faced each other. So 1 faced 2, 3 faced 4, and 5 faced 6, and 7 faced 8. So we were in Barrack 8, and then facing us was Barrack 7, and that's where the Yoshinaga family lived, you know, Aiko Yoshinaga? So she was in Manzanar. So then after her child was born, then she moved to Jerome to be with the rest of her family. So she was in Barrack 8, Unit B. So I was next door to Aiko in Jerome.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

BN: And then I'm going to come back to Jerome, but I want to finish up with Santa Anita first. In your area, were the barracks similar to the WRA style?

KS: Yeah, the army has different barrack designs. And I think if you say a serial number, then the army knows what that barrack looked like. I think the barracks depended on how close you are to the combat and what kind of weather it is, like that. But it was very similar. But the main difference between Jerome and Santa Anita was that Santa Anita, all the barracks were one after another. For the ten thousand barracks in the parking lot, they were all just one after another in one gigantic pool. While in Jerome, they were divided into blocks, and then there was about forty or fifty blocks in Jerome. And that's the way they did it in Rohwer and also in Manzanar and other places, that they decided to have blocks. And each block would have a mess hall, and then they'll have the latrines, the men's and women's latrine, and then they had the laundry room, and then the ironing room. And in Jerome or Rohwer, they would have six and six, twelve barracks in a block. Now, Manzanar had fourteen barracks in a block, but the same sort of idea.

BN: And in Santa Anita, what were the bathrooms like? Was it flush toilets?

KS: Yeah, in Santa Anita, they had flush toilets, but the big problem was that Santa Anita at that time, the town of Arcadia didn't have a sewer system, so then everybody was on the cesspool.


BN: I wanted to just finish up with Santa Anita. Before, we were talking about the septic tanks and overflowing, can you talk about that?

KS: Okay. So then in Santa Anita, the town was not on a sewer system, which also had a septic tank. Then, I don't know, after so many months, it started overflowing, looked like, almost every day. So they had these trucks that would come, and then the truck would pump the sewage from the tanks into the truck, and that was a smelly operation. So that was really bad. But I used to remember that, and then another thing was that Santa Anita, lot of people used to have hotplates, and then they used to bring their food home or for the baby or for the invalid or something, heat it up at the house. And then in Santa Anita, the hotplates used to overdrive the circuit, so then caused lot of burning the fuse and stuff like that, so then they used to have a lot of blackout because of that. So then one day, the authorities decided they're going to confiscate all the hotplates, so they went from barrack to barrack confiscating hotplates, and that was the cause of the riot. The people got upset, so they started forming groups and stuff like that. And then I don't know how many thousand people would organize here, notify them over there and stuff. So that's when the army sent in their troops. So there was two hundred soldiers, two half tracks, so they came in from the entrance, and then they put down the riot. Now, they didn't have to do any shooting or anything, but I think when the people see the soldiers with the bayonet, they decided not to congregate anymore. So it's strange, but that's the reason you have the ironing rooms at each of the camps, like at Jerome and Manzanar, you had the men's toilet, the women's toilet, the laundry room, and the ironing room. And the ironing room is where you're supposed to iron and where you've got the heavy circuits so you won't have any burning out, you won't have any riots. But that was to prevent the riots. That was the big event, when they had the riots.

BN: Was your family nearby?

KS: Not exactly nearby, but I saw it. So I saw the riot.

BN: Did you see the commotion?

KS: Well, I saw the soldiers. And then another thing I used to see is that the classrooms were in the grandstands, so they had the pair of mutual rooms in the grandstand, that's where the classroom was. So that when I used to go to school, I used to see them making the camouflage nets. So then they were hanging the nets from the roof of the grandstand, these nets, and then they would weave the burlap bags into the netting. But I used to see that every day I went to school.

BN: And your sisters were about the age of a lot of the workers. Did they work on that project?

KS: No. My oldest sister, she had a job in the mess hall, so her job was a waitress. So her job was to clean the tables after the people left. And then my second sister had a job in the milk station. Now in Santa Anita, the barracks did not have electricity or anything like that, no refrigerator. I mean, they had electricity, but nobody had a refrigerator. So they had these kiosks that they called milk station, and they were about, like, four feet by four feet in size, and that's where my sister sat. So then when the mother came, then my sister would give my mother the milk for the child. So that was the job of my second sister, and then my father, he had a job in the kitchen, so he was never a cook before the war, and then that was the assignment in Santa Anita, to work in the kitchen. And then in Santa Anita, my mother did not have any job, so she stayed home.

BN: And your oldest sister, I think, she would have been about graduating high school? Did she graduate in Santa Anita?

KS: No, she graduated high school in Jerome.

BN: Oh, in Jerome.

KS: Yeah. So in Jerome, next time, in Jerome, my father had a job as what they call a boiler. So over there, in Santa Anita, the running water was in the mess hall in the laundry rooms and men's latrine and women's latrine. But the women's latrine and the men's latrine and the laundry room and then the ironing room, it was in a H-shape, and between those was the boiler room. So the boilers supplied hot water to all those facilities. So I think they had about three people working in the boiler room. So I don't know how they do the timing, but they had to have somebody there shoveling coal into the boiler, and that's the job my father had in Jerome. So then that was, quote, an "easier" job than being a cook. And then when we went from Jerome to Rohwer, then he finally got a job at the warehouse. So warehouse, you just watch the stuff and then dispense it. So that was, quote, the "easiest" job. So every time he moved from one camp to another, he got to figure out, what's the easy job here? That's what my father got at the end, the easy job in Rohwer.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

BN: In Jerome, what was your block?

KS: Okay, I was in Block 19. So Block 19 was Uptown people.

BN: So the whole block, basically.

KS: Yeah. So then Block 19 was Uptown people, and then we knew the Uptown people before the war. So that's how it was. Now, in 1944, they closed Jerome and make it into a German POW camp. So then a lot of people went to Gila, but our family went to Rohwer. So now, when we went to Rohwer, we went into Block 7. In Rohwer, the people were living there for two years already, and whenever they had vacancies, that's where they put in people from Jerome. So we went into Jerome, I think, there was no Uptown people there. I think a lot of them were Downtown people. When I say Downtown, I mean East L.A. or First Street or something. So then we were, quote, "among strangers."

BN: You were all split up.

KS: Yeah.

BN: A block is, like, 250 people? So that's a lot of, a pretty large grouping of people from your area at Rohwer.

KS: Right. So then the way those camps worked, if they have 250 people times 40 blocks, you get about 10,000 people. So that's what they had. And the blocks, they had 250 to 300, but I think Santa Anita and stuff -- I mean, not Santa Anita, but Manzanar was closer to L.A., so I think they were more closely packed, while Jerome was the last camp to open, so I think it was more spread out in terms of the people density.

BN: Now, you're eight, nine years old, so you're going to school, right, primarily?

KS: Right.

BN: Where was the school and what were your memories of it?

KS: Okay, so then I was going to Hobart grammar school in Uptown, and then we went to Jerome. So I think it was about April or so, we went from grammar school to camp. And then during the fall, I don't know if they had camp -- they must have had some school in summer, but in October, we went to Jerome, and now, get the class assignment. So my mother went to the principal or whoever was involved, "That boy there, he didn't learn anything this year because he didn't go to school, so hold him back a year," or half a year or whatever. So I got held back because my mother said I didn't learn anything that year. So I had to go to summer school in Chicago to catch up. But we were in a school in Jerome, and I remember one thing that we did was we had Caucasian teachers, and these were people from Arkansas that were working in Jerome. And the teacher thought that we can't go shopping and stuff to buy Valentine cards, so she's going to bring Valentine cards from outside, bring it in, and then have our classroom sell it. So we had a Valentine store, and then the whole school, we can sell it to them. So I think it was either three cents or two cents or one penny for a Valentine card. So that was what we did.

BN: Were all your teachers Caucasian or were some...

KS: I think they were Caucasian.

BN: Were they... do you think they were any good?

KS: Yeah, I thought they were pretty good.

BN: So did you feel like you had fallen behind, or did you feel like you were learning stuff?

KS: No, I think everybody else was in the same boat with me.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

BN: In terms of your barracks, you mentioned that your family was in two barracks. Many families built furniture and did all kinds of decorating and so forth. Did your family do that?

KS: Yeah, so everybody got that steel cot, a steel cot and a mattress, so then that's what we had. But the thing about steel cot and mattress, in Santa Anita, the health department thought that steel cot and mattress, it'll be more hygienic if they would bring the mattress outside to let it sun in the ultraviolet light. So every Saturday, my father had to bring out six beds and six mattress and bring it out so the sunshine could, quote, "disinfect it." So all the 10,000 people, or all the 18,000 people were doing that on Saturdays, bringing out their beds. And then while we had our bed out there... oh, here was another thing about Santa Anita. They said that the Japanese were using too much toilet paper. So now when we first went to camp, the toilet papers were in the toilet, hanging right there next to the stall, but they said the Japanese were using too much, so we're going to give the toilet paper to the families, and then the families were supposed to bring it to the toilet. So that's what we had. So then when we had our mattress out there sunning on Saturday, the truck would drive by, and there would be a guy in the back, and he'd be tossing the toilet paper onto each mattress. So that's how we got the weekly supply of toilet paper. So if you didn't have your mattress out there, you didn't have any toilet paper that week. So then the way it worked was that after the toilet paper roll was half used, then the roll gets pretty small. Then I used to put the small roll of toilet paper in my hip pocket, so I used to walk around all the time with toilet paper, roll of toilet paper in my pocket. So that's how it was in Santa Anita. But Jerome, we were civilized, so we had toilet paper in the toilet.

BN: Just to clarify, in Santa Anita, many of the assembly centers, you had to stuff the mattresses with straw. Santa Anita, you had cotton.

KS: Yeah, ours was already built, it was a built mattress. But I don't know about other people, maybe in barracks they had to stuff it, but ours was all built.

BN: So at Jerome, did your family make furniture and other things?

KS: So you had to scrounge around trying to get the lumber. So when they build a barracks, there's a lot of leftover wood, and that's when you try to pick up to make your furniture.

BN: What about the dining hall? Do you remember what that was like in Jerome?

KS: Jerome, there was one mess hall per block. I think the capacity of the dining hall was like 250 or 300. So I think everybody could sit down and eat together one meal. Well, in Santa Anita, there were six mess halls for 18,000 people, so each mess hall had to serve about three thousand people. So you had to have, for each breakfast, lunch and dinner, you had to have several sittings. So you had to get in line to eat in Santa Anita, and the line would be outside the mess hall, while in Jerome, the line was inside the mess hall, you just lined up against the wall, so that you can get to the front to serve yourself.

BN: Did you eat as a family or did you eat with friends?

KS: I don't know. I'm not exactly sure, but in Jerome, and also in Rohwer, my mother was a dishwasher, so she'd be washing. So there was, I don't know, five, ten ladies in the dishwashing department, and that's what she was doing.

BN: So she could keep an eye on you.

KS: I don't know, but I think the idea was everybody was supposed to have a job.

BN: As a kid, were you aware of the fence and guard towers and so forth?

KS: Well, in Jerome, they had the guard tower and the fence, but I think they were in operation only several months at the beginning. And then after that, they didn't have the guard towers manned, and then the fences were not maintained. So when Jerome, everybody used to go outside the camp, basically just walked between the wires of the fence, so we used to do that, go catch rabbits or whatever. So we used to go outside the camp all the time. And then in Rohwer, we used to go outside of camp and walk a couple of miles to that store outside of camp to buy soda water or something like that. They did not maintain the wires in Jerome and Rohwer because there we were in Arkansas, and if you lived in Chicago, if you were a Japanese in Chicago or Salt Lake City or Denver, you didn't have to go to camp. So it's sort of funny that people would be locked up in camp when closer to the West Coast, there were Japanese people that were free. But in Santa Anita, they had guards watching the camp, and I remember one day standing by the fence looking across Huntington Drive, and I could see the civilian population. And I was wondering how come we're on this side of things, and on the other side of the fence, everything still seemed to be normal.

BN: And in the Arkansas camps, what were some of the other things you did? Sports...

KS: In Arkansas camp, the game that we played was called Sticks. So you get pieces of... in Arkansas, our block was in the forested area. So if you look at a picture of Jerome, then you see most of the camp, the blocks had no trees, but our blocks had a lot of trees. Then there was always lots of lumber and stuff like that, and also timber or wood. So we used to make what we called sticks, and these are sticks about eighteen inches long, and maybe two inches diameter. And then Arkansas, the ground was muddy, so it was sticky. So you'd throw a stick into the ground, and then the next guy would throw it, and the next guy, when he throws it, he tries to knock down your stick while his stick is standing, and that's how he wins. If there's a stick on the ground and you throw your stick right next to it and it touches yours, well, he wins, too. Anyway, that's what we did all day long, just playing sticks. So then in Jerome, might have lived there two years or so, and then I don't think we ever played baseball or football, we just played Sticks all the time. You didn't have to buy any glove or any outside stuff, you'd just make your own stick.

BN: I know you were just a kid at the time, but did you have any recollection of the whole "loyalty questionnaire" episode? Was that discussed in your family?

KS: No, nobody talked about that "loyalty questionnaire."

BN: Presumably everyone said "yes-yes," because you stayed.

KS: Right. But I'm pretty sure that all the parents were talking about that, because my mother would say that in Rohwer, when they had the "loyalty questionnaire" and all that kind of stuff, that's when she decided that they're gonna stay in America forever. Because she realized that the children did not speak Japanese that well, and it would be difficult to go to Japan, and that they're gonna live in America forever. So they made up their mind in 1944/'45.

BN: At the same time you've got cousins who are in Japan, your uncle, and was there any kind of talk about that?

KS: No. But I told you my uncle that lived in Manzanar... not Manzanar, the one that went to Heart Mountain, that went to Japan just before the war and then came back here right before the war started? He had the one son and two daughters, and then the one daughter had two children, boy and a girl. So end of the month they'll be coming here, that boy and a girl will be coming here and stay upstairs.

BN: So you're in touch and so forth? That's good.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

BN: And then you mentioned in '44 the camp closes. I always get mixed up between the Arkansas camps. You're in...

KS: Rohwer.

BN: Rohwer, and you're going to Jerome. Were they pretty similar? Other than you mentioned that now you're kind of mixed in with a lot of other people not from your neighborhood. But beyond that, were the camps pretty similar?

KS: Yeah. The layout of the buildings were almost the same. Maybe the same contractor built it, but the layout was the same. So in 1945 is when the government decided to close the camps. And I think the government acknowledged that they're going to stop the schools, so now everybody's going to be forced out of camp. So then I told you my father, he did the produce stuff, so he could run that business, but I think it'll be hard for him to go to a new city. So the way our family did it was my oldest sister graduated from high school in Jerome in 1944. And then I think my second sister must have graduated high school in the winter, around January or February 1945. So then they came to Chicago first. So then they came to Chicago around January or February 1945. And then they had to find a job, find a place to live and stuff like that. So I think there was another girl my sisters knew, but anyway, they had to find a job and find a place to live. Then after they did that, then they had my father come. So now my father came around March of 1945 to Chicago, and then he found a job and found a place to live. And then in June of 1945, my older sister came back to camp, and then my mother and my youngest sister and I, we left Rohwer and came to Chicago. So we had to come to Chicago in stages, so depending on how good your English was, and how well you could survive in the new world. So then the two oldest sisters came first, and my father, and then my mother, and the two youngest. So we came in stages.

BN: So was there a thought about going back to L.A.?

KS: Yeah, I think at that time, I don't think that many people went to L.A. at that time, beginning of 1945. But my mother always talked about if they went to L.A., then I think it was almost impossible to start the produce kind of business, and then he'll have to go to into gardening. And I think he didn't want to become a gardener because that's a lot of physical work. So then when he got to Chicago, he found a job at a bakery, a huge bakery called Boysen Bakery. So he was in there right in the bread department. So that's what he did from 1945 until he retired.

BN: Your sisters went first, so they kind of had established themselves.

KS: Right.

BN: What kind of work did they do?

KS: Okay, so then my older sister, she found a job at a place called Club Aluminum, they made pots and pans. I don't think they're in business anymore, but they made aluminum pots and pans, and I think she was in the shipping department. Then my second sister, I think she got a job at this Hummel, you know, they make dolls, toy dolls?

BN: The figurines?

KS: Yeah, figurines. So she got a job there. But I'm pretty sure that if there was no war, then those two would have gone to college. But here it was 1945, and if they went to college, those two, then my father wouldn't have known how to get out of camp. He couldn't have gone to Chicago, he couldn't have been the first one in the family to go to Chicago. So my two older sisters had to sacrifice going to college so that the rest of the family could come out.

BN: And then where they settle? What part of Chicago?

KS: Okay, so then Chicago, on the north side, there was a place called Clark/Division. So that's where we lived. At first they said, before we came, at the very beginning, we lived a little bit north of there, couple of miles north by Lincoln Park. But in 1945 we moved to this place called Clark/Division. And over there, there was about two or three Japanese grocery stores, there was one called York and one called Toguri market or something. And then we called it Japantown but there wasn't much of a town there.

BN: But there was little cluster of Japanese...

KS: Yeah. So we lived there until about 1948 or '49 or so. And that's when my father bought a, what they call a flat. So then it was a three-story building, so he was so happy when he bought that. But then I didn't realize later on that he couldn't have bought land in California because of the alien land law, but he was able to buy land in Chicago. So he lived there.

BN: Was that in the same general area?

KS: No, this was close to DePaul University. So it was close to DePaul University, so then we lived on the first floor. And then the second floor was cut in half, and the third floor was cut in half, and then at that time, when my father bought it, there was a housing shortage, so people couldn't get a place to live. But on the second floor was this lady, her husband, she was our sister's friend, but they lived on Dewey. They lived next to us on Dewey, and now they rented the first half of the second floor to that lady, the girl, because there was a housing shortage. So we lived there, and then from there I went to high school. First we lived in Clark/Division, and I used to go to grammar school. And then grammar school was called Ogden grammar school. Ogden was by Chicago Avenue, so I used to walk there. So I had to walk by the Newberry Library, which is well-known. And also by Bagas Square, and then close by is where they had the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Anyway, I used to walk to the grammar school. And that grammar school didn't have any playground. So they used to block a small street with little sawhorses to make it a playground during lunchtime and stuff like that.

BN: Were there other Issei students there?

KS: Yeah. There were others, but I'm trying to figure out... see, I was in the winter class. And I think the winter class was maybe eleven students graduated, of which I think there was another Japanese guy. But there weren't that many Japanese in the school.

BN: The other students, 'cause you're north side, are white.

KS: Right. And then that school, I think most people were poor people. There was only one guy that's from a wealthy -- see, that school was their north side, and Clark/Division is right next to the Gold Coast. And then I think most of the Gold Coast students went to private school. But there was one guy whose father was a manager of the Knickerbocker Hotel, so this guy had a parent that was doing good, and he used to come to our school. And then one day he said he's going to have a club meeting, so we should come to his club meeting. And when we went, it was in his hotel. They had set aside a room for us, and I couldn't believe it, that here we're having a club meeting at his hotel. Like I said, that grammar school didn't have a playground. And then we used to go to Lincoln Park and stuff. But everybody was poor in them days. So then at that grammar school, I don't think anybody owned a football, so we had to get one of those caps, like a sailor cap, and fold it up and throw the cap around like a football. So that was how it was. And a cap is better than a football, because a football would roll around in the street and get hit by a car, but with a cap, the cap doesn't roll, so that was a good football.

BN: You said your dad was working at the bakery?

KS: Right.

BN: Did your mom work?

KS: Yeah, she worked at this knitting mill. So this knitting mill, they made caps and scarves and stuff like that.

BN: And the family all was still all together? Four kids?

KS: Right.

BN: And then you mentioned after that, you moved to this flat that your father purchased. And I don't know the Chicago geography very well, was that close by?

KS: So then I guess you don't know, but that's close to DePaul University.

BN: Gotcha. But it's also north.

KS: Yeah, north side. So then we lived there, and then I used to walk to Waller High School.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

BN: Is there no middle school? It's just the grammar school and then the high school?

KS: Yeah, I'm trying to figure out how that worked. Because I remember going to middle school in the summer, the year when they first had the, not the Sputnik, but they had the flying saucer thing. I forgot what year that was, when they first had that flying saucer. I was going to this middle school. So then from Clark/Division, I think I had to take the streetcar and stuff to go to Waller High School. But after we moved, I could walk to Waller High School.

BN: What was the student body like at Waller? Was it a big school?

KS: No, it was not a big school. But it was not a wealthy neighborhood. And I think ninety, a hundred or so, they used to have the graduation program in German or something. But anyway, over there, they had a lot of ethnic people living there. They had the Germans and Italians, lot of Italians lived there. So then there were schools in Chicago, so there was ours, there was Waller, and then if you go ten miles north, there was another school called Lakeview. If you go north, you got another high school. But I think as you went north, the people were wealthier, so the schools were, quote, "better" than ours. So at the end, what they did was they renamed the school from Waller to Mid North High School or something like that. Meanwhile, close by, there were always these private schools, so the rich people go to private school. And then also close by there were Catholic schools, so then people go to parochial schools.

BN: Did your family have a church in the area?

KS: Okay, so my father and mother, they went to this Presbyterian church. And then, I don't know when it was started, I don't know if it was prewar Presbyterian or not. But that church met at some Caucasian church, so they didn't have their own building. So they went there for a long time, and then, I don't know what year, maybe 1950s or '60s, that church bought a building of their own, and now the building of their own was north where we lived, so we used to go to that. So at first the church was south of where we lived, and now it's north of where we live. And then the only other church was Reverend Hibino, I don't know if you know him. But I think he still might be living, because he was the minister down in Wintersburg. Oh, I was going to tell you, the minister in Jerome was, I mean, before the war was John Yamasaki. So he was in our block, and I remember the day that he got beaten up, and he had to be whisked out of camp. But my parents didn't talk too much about it, but we all knew the next day that something happened, that he wasn't there anymore.

BN: What was the name of the church in Chicago?

KS: It still exists. And then they moved again, but I didn't go to church, my father and mother went to church.

BN: But it's a Japanese church?

KS: Yeah. So then I don't know, but it still exists.

BN: Were there other kinds of elements of Japanese community institutions that your family was a part of besides that? I assume you're not going to Japanese language school anymore.

KS: No.

BN: But anything else? Sports leagues or anything?

KS: No, we didn't participate in that.

BN: So mainly church was kind of this connection to the Japanese community?

KS: Uh-huh.

BN: I wanted to ask you about, we were talking before that you had the cousins who were from Japan. You said one of them actually perished during the atomic bomb. Was there any kind of communication with the Japanese relatives at that time?

KS: Okay, so this family, they had a boy and two girls. So then they lived in Japan during the war, and several years after the war ended, the boy came back to the U.S. So he lived on Sawtelle Boulevard.

BN: In L.A.?

KS: Yeah, in L.A. And then he died about twenty years ago, but he was more than ten years older than me. And then one died during the war, and the third girl, she might have lived about ten years ago. So then I went to Japan a couple of times, but when we go to Japan, she would be the contact. I think she graduated from Hollywood High, so then she spoke English like any Nisei. So then I think the people in Japan would still criticize her after fifty years, that, "You have an American accent." So then we used to see her. And then when we go to Hiroshima, the mainland, that's the contact. Now, on the island, my mother had a cousin or second cousin or somebody that lived there. So then my mother had land before the war, because she was the only child and stuff like that. So she had a house. These are tiny places, so she had a house in the village part, and then she had a house on the outskirts over there, and that's where the farm was. And the farm on outskirts, when MacArthur was there he took over that farm, gave it to somebody else. So I remember when I went to Japan, then I stayed at the house in the village. And that was the house that I was born in, I stayed there. And then my mother's cousin said that he'd been working to put electricity in the house so that when I'd come visit, I'd have electricity. But I stayed there, slept there one night. And then so I stayed there one night and then I said, "I want to go see the other house," where my mother's farm was. And he said, "No, no, you can't go there." I asked several times, said, "No, I can't take you there." And then finally he said, "The farm was given away by MacArthur, and if I take you there," they're going to think I'm trying to get the land back. Okay, "so that's the reason I don't want to take you there." But he said, "Okay, I'll take you there." But then finally, this is about a mile away, we're walking through the bamboo groves, and as we come close to the house, he keeps on shouting in a loud voice, "These are people from America, but they're going to go back to America right away." [Laughs] "They're going to just take a look and they're going to go back to America right away." So that's how I got to see it.

BN: What year would this have been?

KS: In the '80s.

BN: But years later.

KS: Right.

BN: In Chicago, I'm curious, because you mentioned before the war, you're speaking Japanese. After the war, is it different?

KS: No. So then I didn't go to a Japanese language school at all.

BN: You mean, you did before the war.

KS: Yeah, before the war. After the war, I didn't go. So I forgot everything I learned.

BN: And your parents' English was...

KS: My father could read a newspaper, but my mother didn't read the English newspaper. So I guess they wanted us to read the newspaper. And Jerome and Rohwer, used to subscribe to the Little Rock newspaper so we could read the newspaper and see what was going on.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

BN: Many of the Japanese families who settled in Chicago or other cities eventually moved back to California. Was there any discussion in your family or consideration about doing that that you were aware of?

KS: No. I think, see, first of all, it had to do with a job. He didn't want to go into gardening, but after he retired, I think they considered themselves too old. So in those days, I think people in their sixties thought they were old. Now, people in their sixties think they're young, you've got to be in their eighties to be old, but them days, they thought they were too old to move. They didn't think seriously of moving out this way. Then my oldest daughter, she was married and she had a child and they lived in Chicago, so that would be sort of splitting the family.


KS: Okay, so then there was our family, and then there was a family that was in Manzanar that came to Chicago, and that family had two boys and one girl. So it turned out that on my father's side, there was him and his one brother in Chicago, and then there was two brothers in L.A., so that split up the Tatsui clan.

BN: But he did have another relative, brother in Chicago.

KS: Yeah, his brother, he died in Chicago, and his brother, he lived on the south side. So you know, talk about north side and south side, so when we went there, we had to take the Elevated, then you had to transfer, then you had to, from the Elevated you had to take the streetcar. It was a big journey. My father, before the war, used to drive every day to the produce market in a state truck, and weekend drive a sedan. But once he went into camp -- he drove into camp, too -- once he drove into camp, he never drove again. I think he got old, and he somehow never drove again.

BN: Probably, as you say, he'd probably be in his sixties.

KS: Yeah. But I think just the idea, I think Issei had to be able to drive to survive in the 1920s and '30s. Issei could live in Chicago in the '40s and '50s and not drive and survive. That's how they got old.

BN: What about, how was it for you and your sister? Did you like Chicago better, did you want to go back to L.A., or was it not even something you thought about?

KS: Well, I thought I wanted to go to L.A. So then after I finished college, I went to New York, so I worked at a place called Sperry Gyroscope Company, and it was on Long Island. So I lived in Long Island, and there was a part of Queens that goes all the way out to Nassau County, so that's where I lived. And I lived with two guys that I went to college with, so these are two hakujin guys and myself, we rented this place in Long Island. And then they also worked at Sperry Gyroscope Company. And then I used to go to night school in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Poly, so then I used to take the bus, and then the E or F train to Queens, and then at Kew Gardens, transferring to the GG train, and then go down to Brooklyn, get off at the Hoyt–Schermerhorn, and then go to Brooklyn Poly. So I did that about a year, and then these two guys that I was living with now, I think they might have both returned to Chicago, they were from Chicago. So next I moved in with a house of me and four or five other guys that worked at Sperry Gyroscope Company. So we had, in this one neighborhood, there was this one house with four or five engineers. And if they would buy an engine for their motorboat, they would put it in a garbage can and try it out in the middle of the night. [Laughs] But I lived together with them for about half a year.

BN: And when you say after college, was this after your undergraduate?

KS: Right, after my undergraduate, yeah.

BN: So, yeah, let's go back to that. You graduated, then, from...

KS: I went to Illinois Institute of Technology.

BN: From high school.

KS: Yeah, I graduated from high school in Chicago, Waller High School.

BN: And you went straight, then, to IIT?

KS: Right.

BN: Were you the only of your siblings to go to college?

KS: Okay, my third sister, she went to a junior college over there, so there was a place called Wright junior college, and I was the only one to go to a regular four-year school.

BN: Did you, when you were in high school, know what you wanted to do at that point?

KS: Not really.

BN: So what drove you...

KS: Well, I thought engineering might be good, because my brother-in-law, the one that's married to my second sister, he went to engineering school in Michigan, University of Michigan, but he didn't graduate, but he was in the armed services in Japan. So his family, they were Jerome and also Rohwer also. And then his father was trying to talk my friends into going to Seabrook. My mother said that's going the wrong way, going away from California, so she didn't want to go to Seabrook. So that time, I guess that family went to Seabrook, and I think my father's best friend from Japan, I think they went to Cleveland. So everybody decided what to do.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

BN: What year did you graduate from high school?

KS: I graduated from high school in 1952.

BN: And you went straight to college?

KS: Yeah.

BN: Were you worried at that point about being able to get a job in that field?

KS: No, I think them days, 1950s, everybody that graduated from college were able to get a job.

BN: Even if they're Nisei?

KS: Yeah.

BN: But by that point, you were pretty confident?

KS: Well, first I had to become a citizen, so that you're not going to get defense work.

BN: Can you talk about that? How that came about and what you had to do?

KS: Okay, so it was 1952, the McCarran Act allowed the Japanese to become citizens. So right away, I did that. And then my father did that too, he became a citizen. And then I think... I'm trying to figure out if the quiz was just the interview with a judge or something, but I think all the judges were told to let all the Japanese become citizens, so it was straightforward to become a citizen. So now I could apply for a job that required security clearance.

BN: Were you able to live with your family while you went to college?

KS: Uh-huh, lived at home.

BN: Close enough you could commute.

KS: Yeah, so then I used to take the subway. Well, it was elevated, then it goes underground, becomes a subway, and it becomes an aboveground elevated again. So at that time, I used to be able to read while I'm in moving traffic. Now I think my eyes are not that good, so I don't think I can read while I'm moving.

BN: And how was the... did you find the classes difficult or easy?

KS: Yeah, I think I was a, quote, "regular student."

BN: These are really at the top or bottom?

KS: Yeah, they were engineering classes. So I was, quote, "above average." So I majored in electrical engineering. It's so funny that... so I graduated in electrical engineering, then my son graduated electrical engineering, then my son and daughter, they both went to UCLA, and they're both electrical engineers. And then my son-in-law is an electrical engineer, too. So electrical engineering sort of runs in the family.

BN: And then you graduate then in four years?

KS: Yeah.

BN: And then we talked about then moving New York and getting a job. What did you do?

KS: Okay, Sperry Gyroscope, they made missiles, so they made air-to-air missiles. I think that was, at that time, 1952, we had the Cold War ready. So making missile was a big thing. So when I was working at General Dynamics, we were making missiles, too. So we were Cold War, so Russia was our enemy. And then I started working at General Dynamics about 1961 or '62, and then Russia was our enemy. And then around 1990, around there, we had the thaw, so end of the cold war. So that's when the missile business collapsed. So then before, we used to have three big companies in the missile business, General Dynamics, Hughes and Raytheon, and then what happened was a big consolidation. So then Hughes bought out the missile part of General Dynamics, so that happened in 1992, and then they sent two thousand workers from California to Tucson in 1994. And while we were there, we were bought out by Raytheon. So once upon a time there were three companies, but now there's only one company, and that's Raytheon, and they're down there in Tucson, Arizona. So Tucson is where we lived from 1994 'til about 1998, and then I retired.

BN: And then to go back, then you were in New York for a little while, because I know you went back to graduate school. So when did you come back and what made you decide to pursues an advanced degree?

KS: Okay, so then I think I worked at Sperry Gyroscope for about a year and a half, and meanwhile I was going to night school at nighttime, and it was sort of getting hectic. But I thought I should go full time. So that's when I decided to quit work and come back to Chicago and go to Northwestern.

BN: What was your specialization?

KS: Okay, so then Northwestern, I'm in the controls part of electrical engineering. So I started maybe 1957 or so, and graduated in 1961. So then I also lived at home. So I used to either commute, I mean, drive, or take the Elevated, one way or the other.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

BN: And then after you got your -- this is a PhD, right?

KS: Yeah.

BN: And then after that is when you moved to California.

KS: Then I got a job at General Dynamics, and then I worked, they had a plant in Pomona. See, General Dynamics had a plant in San Diego, and then in 1952 they decided to start a missile division at Pomona. So the plant was built by the U.S. Navy, and then in 1952 the U.S. Navy wanted a location that would be far away from the coast so that when the Japanese battleship came to Long Beach and started shooting, it couldn't get to Pomona. So they put the plant in Pomona. And it was the same thing in 1952, the Air Force wanted a plant for making missiles, and they wanted it away from the ocean so when the Japanese aircraft carriers came and launched their plane, it'd be a one-way trip to Tucson. So then both plants were built in 1952, so that Japanese couldn't attack them. So I got a job at General Dynamics Pomona, and we built missiles.

BN: Being that you're of Japanese ancestry, was that ever an issue in terms of discrimination or anything like that, did you feel?

KS: No, I remember once when I was working, there was a new hire, and the new hire asked -- it was a Jewish guy -- and asked another Jewish guy, "Is there discrimination against Jews?" And the answer was that you had to negotiate, work with the Navy, and he thought there might be discrimination there. But the way it was at General Dynamics was that I was a supervisor, so I had about thirty or forty engineers working for me. And then my immediate supervisor was also Japanese, and then over there, the VP of Engineering was a Chinese guy. So I don't think there was any discrimination against Asians. I think the main thing is myself and my immediate supervisor were what you called "quiet Americans," so I think that hindered our progress.

BN: You weren't assertive.

KS: But I was in charge, so I was a supervisor for ten years or so. So I was in what they called the Dynamics Department, and our job was to evaluate the performance of the missile. So we had a lot of simulation, computer simulations. So a long time ago they used to have what they call analog simulation, that's before the digital computers came about. So that people that worked for me had to run the analog simulation. So we used to have two shifts and stuff like that. But I thought I did okay at General Dynamics. And then we were bought out by Hughes, and then Hughes said they're going to send the whole operation from California to Tucson, so that's the missile division of Hughes, which was in Canoga Park. And then the people in San Diego, GD San Diego they're making Tomahawk missile, then us guys in Pomona closed shop and then moved to Tucson. So that time, I used to get notice from my supervisor how many people I have to lay off every month as they closed. So that was my painful job, to tell people that they don't have a job anymore.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

BN: Just to backtrack a little bit, when did you get married?

KS: Oh, I got married in 1963, '62 or something like that.

BN: How did you meet your wife?

KS: Okay, so then I went to the church, Centenary church. So her family went to Centenary Methodist Church, it was on 39th Street. So that's where I met her.

BN: So you were living in Pomona, so that's kind of around.

KS: Yeah. So that's where I used to socialize. See, Centenary, at that time, are you familiar with Centenary at that time? Okay, so then... I'm trying to figure out what street that was. But they were on both sides of the street.

BN: But it's south.

KS: Yeah, it was in south Los Angeles. I think it was around 39th Street or so. So they had the old building which was built in the '20s, and then the new buildings, which was built in the '50s or '60s, so we got married there. And after that, Centenary moved to Little Tokyo.

BN: That's the one I'm familiar with. Did you continue going to Centenary?

KS: No. So then that was the Methodist church, and then we went to a hakujin Methodist church in Claremont. And this church was on Foothill Avenue, and I think that church was still there. And then my wife didn't like it. My wife, her family, they were in Jerome, and I think they left Jerome after, I don't know, maybe half a year or so. We stayed in camp 'til 1945, I think they left camp in 1943 or so. So then they moved to Utah. In Utah, there's a place called Parowan, which is next to the I-15. I don't know how many Japanese there were in Parowan, but I think that creates a lot of discrimination in Utah.

BN: Where was she from before the war?

KS: My wife's family, the mother's side, her mother came from Fowler, California. Fowler is next to Fresno, or south of Fresno. And then my wife's mother was born there, I think. And then my wife's father was born in Japan. So then they got married in the '30s, and then he was working at the produce market. And when the war started, I think a lot of Japanese said the clan has to get together. So I think that's my wife's mother's family, they went to Fresno so they can go to camp together. And then from there, they went to the main Fresno assembly center, and from there to Jerome. So then from Jerome, now, they left camp earlier, maybe in 1942 or '43, and they went to Utah. So I think I faced a lot of discrimination in Utah. So then when we were living in Claremont, she did not like the idea of going to that Methodist church in Claremont. So then we went to that Holiness Church, that was in Baldwin Park, for a couple of years. And then we went to Altadena First Presbyterian church, it was a Japanese church. It's still there, Reverend Horiumi was the minister at that time. So that was a Presbyterian church.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

BN: I wanted to get to your work on Tuna Canyon with JANM. You mentioned also JACL, though. Were you active with JACL after the war?

KS: No, I was active in JACL when I lived in Claremont. So then at that time, there's a Japanese American community center in West Covina, so then I was active in that chapter, the San Gabriel Valley Chapter of JACL. So I was doing that, and then my son was doing kendo at the community center. So then I was the president of the community center for one year. So then they have a nice community center down there. I guess all the towns had their own Japanese community center, so they had land, they had property before the war, and that property became part of the freeway, then they got the newer property. But I haven't gone there for several years now.

BN: Did you make your kids go to Japanese language school?

KS: Okay, so we lived in Claremont a long time, but between Claremont... first we lived in Pomona, then we lived in Monterey Park for one year. And at that time, we had our son go to Japanese language school, chuugakko. And then the main thing that concerned his teacher was that he was mispronouncing his name, Japanese name. And then they were going to have a hanashikai, that's when the kids get on the stage and each kid recites a paragraph or so. And the teacher was worried that he's going to mispronounce his Japanese name. So every afternoon at five o'clock, we had to telephone the teacher and my son would pronounce his name over the telephone until he got acceptable. Anyway, so he went there, and then when we lived in Claremont, I think we tried to have our daughter take Japanese language, but they really hated it. So then they went to Japanese language school maybe one or two years. Then afterwards, my son went to UCLA, then he got his PhD at USC. He went to Japan and lived in Japan for three years, so he had to be able to speak Japanese. So I think in Japan, you could make presentations in Japanese, but when it came time to Q&A, I think he used to get fouled up. So he speaks a little bit Japanese.

BN: That's pretty good for a Sansei. And then you mentioned earlier also that when there was this, when the General Dynamics was acquired, that you ended up going to Arizona. About when was this?

KS: Okay, so then we went to Arizona in 1994, and we lived in Tucson. So at that time, we lived in Claremont, so we held on to our house in Claremont and then went down there temporary-like, but still bought a house in Tucson. So when we were in Tucson we got a phone call, then the neighbor... one day when we were in Tucson, we got a phone call from a neighbor in Claremont said that, "There's a fire at your house." So we came, and it looked like there was an electrical short in one of the lamps that we owned. So now we had to fix the house. So at that time, we had asbestos in our ceiling, so we had to hire a contractor to remove the asbestos. So we were working on fixing up the house again, and my wife and I used to drive up from Tucson and work on the house. And then one night when we were down there in Tucson, we got a second phone call that said, "There's a fire at your house," so then we came again, and this time it was arson. So what happened was after the first fire, we removed all the furniture into the garage, and then somebody threw a Molotov cocktail into the garage, so that caused the fire. So after that, we decided that, my wife and I, we decided that we didn't want to go back to Claremont, so we sold our house. So now we didn't have any house, so that when we retired, then we decided to come out to South Bay.

BN: And that was, I think you mentioned, in '98?

KS: '98, yeah.

BN: So you were in Arizona for three, four years?

KS: Yeah, about four and a half years.

BN: Your kids were already grown up.

KS: Yeah, so at that time, my daughter was married and at that time she was living in Hawthorne, but Hawthorne is not that good of a town, so she and her husband, they bought a house in Palos Verdes. So they lived in Hawthorne, had a house in Palos Verdes, and then their daughter was growing up. Then when it was time for the... oh yeah, in 1998, I don't know what year they bought the house, around '98, they said, "Could you live in our house until we get ready to move to Palos Verdes?" So that's when I retired in '98 and then we moved to Palos Verdes into their house. And then when their daughter was ready to start kindergarten, they said, "Okay, you have to move out of our house," so that's when my wife and I bought this house here. And then they moved to Palos Verdes and lived there to go to that school district. And then that daughter now is a senior in UCLA.

BN: But they pretty much grew up in Claremont, then, your kids?

KS: Yeah, our kids grew up in Claremont. And then when they went to, they both went to UCLA, and I think once they left the house to go to UCLA, I think they never came back. They liked UCLA.

BN: Then in retirement, you mentioned you got involved in some volunteer -- actually, before I go to that, I want to just touch on redress a bit. Were you involved at all in redress?

KS: No. So then I lived Claremont at that time, and at that time, we were sort of out in the sticks. So then the only assignment I got was somebody called me up and said, "Hey, your job is to telephone these two people to do such and such." So my job was telephoning about three or four people that lived in Chino and tell 'em what they had to do. Well, I already forgot what that was supposed to be about.

BN: This is for the JACL?

KS: It was either that or the community center or something. People in West Covina and Claremont, they're pretty far from Little Tokyo, so they don't get involved in their activities. And I think some people in Claremont might come to Little Tokyo only once or twice a year or something like that.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

BN: And then after your retirement, you got involved in a number of things. Can you talk a little bit about that?

KS: Yeah. So then I was trying to figure out what to do. So one was, I was a docent at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, so then I'd take the children around. And then I did that for five, six years, but they have what they call a spring program, where you stand outside in the stand, and on a spring program they might have a thousand students come in one day. And then they divide up the students in two rows, so then you'd be speaking to five hundred students, and they come in batches of maybe fifty students. So for about ten or eleven times on that day, you have to talk to them about tidepools. So then in my presentation I used to stand up and sit down in the sand, stand up and sit down in the sand, and after a while I couldn't do that physically. So that's when I had to give up and then retire from that and move to JANM.

But another thing I did was, I thought I'm going to, in retirement, work on plants. And then there was this group that had these cactus, so there's all sorts of different plant groups, and that group was really working on succulents and cactus. So then I joined that for several years and bought a few cactus plants and stuff like that. And then another thing, my wife was doing Chinese brush painting, so she painted a lot of these things on the wall. She said I should do brush painting. So I went to, over there at this adult school I did brush, I mean, regular painting. And then also, after a time I learned how to play the piano, but all those things sort of went down the wayside.

And then the one right now I'm concentrating on is JANM, and then also the Tuna Canyon. And then sometime I entered the Huntington Beach Historical Wintersburg Village. So then whenever the Wintersburg Village, they want somebody to come to speak at the city council or planning commission, then I have to run down there and speak. So I do that every now and then now. So this past year I've gone to the L.A. city council and spoke there. You get one minute or two minutes, or the metropolitan transport, when they're talking about the route, which route to take. I went down there and in the past I spoke at the... oh yeah, when they wanted to tear down that Parker Center, they wanted speakers. So whenever they got the SOS for Japanese speakers, then I try to reply. And then I spoke at the Carson City Council. And then a long time ago, ten years ago when they had their redistricting after the census, they wanted people to come speak on behalf of the Japanese, so I did that.

BN: What do you do at JANM, the Japanese American National Museum?

KS: Okay. So at JANM, I'm what they call a docent. So then at JANM they have, very similar to the Cabrillo museum in that the students come around ten o'clock, and then take them on a tour of the Common Grounds at JANM. But there's a lot of difference between JANM and the museum. In JANM, if there's fifty students or so, and then they divide up into five groups of ten each or so, everybody starts from the beginning, because you want to go in chronological order in the history of the Japanese Americans, so everybody's jam-packed together at the beginning. Well, at the Cabrillo museum, they have a shotgun start. So that the start, it's spread out so that you don't bump into each other, and then everybody follows the same path. Anyway, it's sort of the same and different. But in JANM I talk about the history of the discrimination against the Japanese. So some of that stuff I talk about, they don't have an exhibit, so then I can expand upon the exhibit. And like at JANM they have one poster about the Japanese segregated public school in San Francisco, so they had just one poster, and then I could expand upon that and talk about Roosevelt's Gentleman's Agreement, and how the Gentleman's Agreement had the part about the Isseis come from Japan to the U.S. under two conditions. One is that they once lived in the U.S., and the other is that if there's an Issei living in the U.S., they could have an immediate relative come from Japan to the U.S. Then I'll sort of relate that to how it was in our family, and that was the way that my father and his brothers were able to come to the U.S.

BN: You're probably one of the few people who were directly affected by that.

KS: But then I also talk about the way in Japan, the way that the marriage license thing worked is that when the girl went to registrar's office and signed her name on the registry of the husband's family, at that instance she became the wife of that guy. So now she was the immediate relative of the guys in the U.S., and that's how they could become "picture brides" and come to the U.S. So a hundred years ago, the Japanese people were thinking about how to get around the immigration laws. So right now, Trump was talking about the chain migration, well, hundred years ago the Japanese were trying to figure out how to get around the Gentleman's Agreement, how could they get their wives here and stuff like that. So like they say, what comes around goes around.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

BN: So how did you get involved with the Tuna Canyon group? Because you don't have a personal connection to that story, right?

KS: No. So then one day, I was in San Fernando Valley, so JACL had a quarterly there, and there were these two flyers. One flyer was from, about Tuna Canyon and they wanted people to go down to the L.A. city council to speak at the planning commission, heritage commission, some commission in the city hall. And the other flyer was from Huntington Beach, that they wanted people to come to speak at the city council meeting, or the city planning commission meeting. So that's how I got involved. So I went down there one day to the L.A. city hall, and I said my two minutes, and then afterwards, some of us that spoke, we went to Cross Street, and there's this little outdoor food market. So we sat down and had lunch there, and that's the first time I met Nancy Oda at that food market after the meeting. And the same thing with Huntington Beach, I drove down there to speak at the city planning commission hearing in the evening. But Huntington Beach is a long distance to drive. But they don't have Japanese speaking, they have a city council meeting but Japanese don't seem to want to show up.

BN: And then what did you do for the Tuna Canyon?

KS: Okay, so then before, I was making these display panels, and the display panel had to do with before EO9066, and after 9066 and stuff like that. And these display panels were made from trifolds, and I brought easels, and you open up the trifold, and when you open it up, becomes about two feet tall and four feet wide when you unfold it. And I made several trifolds about camp and stuff like that. And when they have DOR, then I would have the trifold up against the wall and stuff. And then I noticed that some people were stopping by, and they were taking photographs of every single text on the trifold, and they were really interested in what was on it. I said hey, this is important. People want to learn. So then I forgot how it was, but I said we should have a traveling exhibit. So first I made a PowerPoint presentation of all the display panels we should have, and from that presentation, they converted that into the JACS grant application form. And then from there, we sent it in, and we got the money. So then after we got the money, then we sort of had what we wanted to have on the panels because of the PowerPoint and stuff I made. But now, people at the Tuna Canyon, they pitched in. And this grant was a two-to-one grant, so it's $102,000, so we had to have $51,000 of labor in kind. So then I was the project director for this grant, so we asked people to write their part. And some people like Endo, the former Rafu editor?

BN: Helen.

KS: Yeah. Like her, if you ask her to write something, right away, within hours, she says, "Will do," and she'll start working on her job. But that's how we got the labor in kind, and that's how we got the text. And then we got a lot of photographs from the internet and stuff. And then we did the oral interviews, but oral interviews, my daughter did three, and then June Berk did about fifteen, twenty oral interviews.

BN: These are interviews with people whose fathers or families were at Tuna Canyon?

KS: Right. So then the thing about this Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition, is that the coalition, there were two groups of people. There were the neighborhood hakujin, and then the Japanese people. The neighborhood people, the main reason that they started out five, ten years ago, was to stop the owners of the golf course, the Verdugo Hills country club, from expanding and turning that into, like a residential development. So there were these group of people that were opposing the golf course becoming a residential development, and then there were these Japanese that wanted to have some sort of memorial for the Tuna Canyon detention station. So we became the coalition. So then the chairman was this guy named Lloyd Hitt, so he was working on this history of Tuna Canyon way before. And then the president was Nancy Oda, and I was the vice president. But we had a coalition that wanted to preserve the history of Tuna Canyon. So then right now we're trying to see how we could acquire land at that site, and if it would require land, and then depending on which land we could get, then we could have a museum, and then we could have an outdoor memorial. And the memorial that we're thinking about is that if we could have it for the individual concentration camp. Like at JANM, they have a museum, Common Grounds, but the camp is sort of like a generic camp. But if we could have, in our museum, each camp would have a specific area, so that the people could say, "This part here, or this side here is for my camp which was Amache," then I think you have identity between the people that's coming to see the museum of a particular camp. So we might go that route if we have the space and the money to do that. And then I also like to see an outdoor monument for the people that were incarcerated in these ten camps. So that'd be a huge project, building these outdoor monuments for these people.

BN: You've got years of work ahead of you.

KS: Yeah, so then it's got years of work, and the first step is to see who could acquire some land.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

BN: So was the Tuna Canyon story and the stuff you're doing at JANM, why do you feel this is important?

KS: JANM, right now I've been doing the tour guide for about five years, but also trying to tell the people at JANM that they should digitize their collection. They got ninety thousand objects in the back rooms in the collections department, and what good is that object if people can't see it? So if they could digitize all the diaries that they have, I don't know how many hundred diaries they have, how many thousand letters they got, and if they could digitize those and put them on the internet so that people could read at home in L.A. or Boston or Tokyo, it'd be much better than just having them locked up in that collections room. So I'm trying to talk them into that. So that'd be a big job if they do that. I think if you could digitize five thousand of those ninety thousand, that's a big, big step. Now, I noticed that, like you were saying that the Cal State Dominguez Hills wants people to come donate articles or objects to their collection, but I think JANM started twenty, thirty years ago, so they got, quote, the "good stuff" already, so that they should just digitize it and show it.

BN: Why is it so important to you to do this? To devote so much of your time to this?

KS: Oh, I think, I think the collection is the most valuable thing that JANM has. Now, JANM has a nice, the main hallway, the Aratani Hall that the people could use, and they have Common Grounds. But Common Grounds, I think, every week, maybe a hundred people come to see it or something. But if they have their stuff digitized, people could see their stuff from their home. And I think all the other libraries like Bancroft and all that say, hey, what's the use of having the manuscript down in the basement when it should be out there for the people to see? And I think these letters, they're not by famous people, but by reading these letters and by reading these diaries, you could see how the Japanese people felt during the war years and also before. And another thing is that JANM has Rafu Shimpo, but I think Rafu Shimpo is, and Kashu Mainichi mainly in Japanese. If that could be somehow, a reader could translate that into English, then a regular guy could see what the Japanese were reading in 1930.

BN: That would be a very big job.

KS: Yeah, but that'd be a start. But I think JANM, if they digitize their collection, they'll be way up there. I don't know, is the Smithsonian doing something like that?

BN: Uh-huh. That's about all that I have. Is there anything else you'd like to add that you'd like to, how would you like to be remembered?

KS: Oh, right now, I'm trying to organize rallies. So then I have a group called Save Our Nation, and then about two months ago we had a rally out there in Hawthorne Boulevard and Artesia, and that time it was... I already forgot what it was, but we had about four hundred fifty people come. And then about a month ago, we had a rally out there, it was to stop Cavanaugh, and we had about a hundred and twenty-five people come. Oh, yeah, the first rally we had was, remember when everybody found out about the family, the immigrants, how the family was separated? That time, I think in Los Angeles they had about fifty or seventy thousand people show up by the city hall. So we had our share, so we had our rally at the same day. So I did that through Move On. So if you put up your rally information on Move On, then a lot of people see it and they come. So we had a lot of good chanting, so had to figure out good chants for people to say. So that's a lot of it.

BN: You're keeping busy. Thank you very much.

KS: Oh, you're welcome.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2018 Densho. All Rights Reserved.