Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Fred Matsumura Interview
Narrator: Fred Matsumura
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Beverly Kashino (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 2, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-mfred-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay. Well, why don't we start off? Bev mentioned that you grew up in Molokai. But why don't you tell me, when were you born, and where were you born?

FM: Okay, I was born in Molokai, April 14, 1923, in a little place call Kamalo, Molokai. It's a little outskirts of Kaunakakai, the main city.

TI: See, Molokai was one of the islands I've never been to. And... I'm a lot younger, but can you describe what Molokai was like when you were growing up?

FM: Molokai is nice country. There's not too many people. At that time, well maybe, probably about 3,000 or, plus or minus, couple a hundred...

TI: On the whole island?

FM: ...people on the whole island.

TI: Wow.

FM: It's about 3,000, hundred, or whatever.

TI: Because now you live in Los Angeles, which is much, much, much larger. I mean, when you think about raising children -- because I noticed, or know that, you are a grandfather now -- when you think about raising children, was growing up in Molokai, back then, a good place to grow up?

FM: Well, I don't know whether it's a good place to grow up but... well, there's no, no crime. We knew just about everybody on the islands, you know. By name, by family name, for instance. And we grew up with all the kids and everything else. So it was a good place, yeah, I would say.

TI: Of the 3,000, how many were Japanese?

FM: Oh, I'd say about, oh, thirty-five percent maybe.

TI: I'm sorry, thirty-five percent?

FM: Thirty-five percent.

TI: Now were there...

FM: There was a lot of Hawaiian families out there.

TI: Okay. Did they have things like Japanese school, and things like that on Molokai?

FM: Uh-huh, they did.

TI: So did you, did you go to Japanese school?

FM: After we finish English school, we go to Japanese school.

TI: So how did that work? How long did you go to English school, and then how much Japanese school?

FM: English school, I'd say about one to two o'clock in the afternoon. From there, we go to Japanese school for about hour and a half.

TI: And in Japanese school, what did you learn in addition to Japanese? I've heard other people say that, oftentimes, they learn a lot about the culture and other things, or... what did you learn in Japanese school?

FM: Yeah, the usual. Reading, writing. And we put on plays and acts and stuff like that, once or twice a year. And we had sumo wrestling among the kids, you know. And we had baseball teams and we'd compete with the, with the, what do you call, neighborhoods, different towns.

TI: Were you pretty involved in sports? Did you like sports?

FM: Yeah, I was.

TI: What kind of sports did you do?

FM: I played softball, sumo wrestling. That's about all I guess, yeah. Football, yeah. Played with some football.

TI: Did they ever have competitions with other islands? Did you ever compete against...

FM: No. Just within different part of the island. Like Kaunakakai one side, and then we have Mauna Loa, which on the far end of the island. Then a place called Kualapuu, that's in between. So we had competition between all of those three communities, yeah. Plantations, yeah.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.