Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Elliot Yoshinobu Horikoshi Interview
Narrator: Elliot Yoshinobu Horikoshi
Interviewer: Patricia Wakida
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: April 6, 2022
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-503

<Begin Segment 1>

PW: So today is April 6, 2022, and we're in Emervyille, California. My name is Patricia Wakida and I'm here today with Elliot Horikoshi. Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. So we'll start from the very beginning with your family and your own personal background. Tell me when and where were you born?

EH: I was born in Salem, Oregon.

PW: What year and what date?

EH: And that was December 26, 1938.

PW: And what was the full name that was given to you when you were born?

EH: Elliot Yoshinobu Horikoshi.

PW: And what were your parents' names?

EH: My dad was (Yoshikazu) Casper Horikoshi. He had... I can't remember his Japanese name, I have to look it up.

PW: Feel free to look at your notes if it makes you comfortable.

EH: And my mother's name was Hisako Horikoshi.

PW: And do you know where they were born?

EH: I know... yes, my mother was born in (Genzan, Korean name Wonsan), North Korea, because at the time, the Japanese occupied Korea. And her father was a judge that was assigned to Korea, and so the parents and the whole family went there, and that's where my mother was born. I'm not sure where my father was born, let me see if I have that in here. I'll have to look that up. But Japanese people always ask which ken you're from, and my dad always said Niigata-ken, and my mother was from Ishikawa-ken.

PW: And where was your father born then?

EH: (Beppu, Kyushu). His father worked on the railroads, and helped them build the bridges that the train needed to maneuver. So he was an engineer, not on the train, but building, built bridges, so they moved all over. And so I don't remember exactly where he was born, but later on I'll look and let you know.

PW: But you said generally you remember hearing him say Niigata-ken?

EH: Yeah, that's where his family is from.

PW: Okay. And you did just mention that your father's family did some engineering work with bridges, bridge building and things?

EH: Yes, for the train, the train company.

PW: Do you remember anything else that your father would say about his family in Japan?

EH: No.

PW: And I'm kind of curious, let's continue with your father. So your father grew up in Japan, and I know that he had a, he was already a student and working towards a profession? Can you tell me what your father was doing in Japan?

EH: Growing up, you mean? Yeah, he went to seminary in Japan. He became a Christian, and so he went to, the college was called Kwansei Gakuin, which I think that's a Christian university. And he became a minister after graduation. And his first job was in (Manchuria), because the Japanese had also invaded (Manchuria), and there was a lot of Japanese workers over there, and so they needed a minister for the church. The way he met my mother was he was coming back from (Manchuria)to Japan. And I don't know the reason, but maybe it was a vacation or something. But he was going to speak at the church in Korea on his way home, and that's where my mother attended, and that's how they met.

PW: This is obviously before World War II officially broke out. Do you have any idea about what year your father might have gone to Mongolia?

EH: No, that was in the '30s, the late '30s, yes. (Around 1934.)

PW: And so they met, but then they came together to Japan? What happened after that?

EH: Apparently they developed a relationship. Because actually my mother, for college, she lived in Korea for quite a while, but then for college she came back to Japan. So they must have hooked up some way there. And because my dad's intentions were to get more education, they decided to go to the U.S. So then they decided they should get married first, so they got married, and then they came to the U.S. And the reason he did was because one of the missionaries from the U.S. who was in Japan and who was a friend of my dad's, recommended that if he wanted to get more schooling in Christianity, he needed to come to the U.S. because Japan was not really a Christian nation, it was mostly Buddhist or Shinto. And so there was a job opening for a pastor, a Japanese-speaking pastor in Salem in Oregon, and so that's how they made the connection for that, and that's why they came to the U.S.

PW: I'm kind of curious, do you know if your mom's family was Christian also?

EH: Apparently, my mother's mother used to send them to the Sunday school. So I don't think they were really Christian, but they, for some reason, she liked what was going on at the church there. My mother has four other sisters there, and so they used to send all of the sisters to church.

PW: In Korea?

EH: In Korea, right. There was a Christian church, I guess, in Korea also. And that's what got her started in that.

PW: Because that must be an interesting special bond, right? That's a very unusual occupation.

EH: Yeah. And since the number of Christians was so small at the time, or even now, in Japan, but there was a connection there.

PW: Did your family, your parents ever tell you about coming to the United States, any stories or memories about the actual journey?

EH: No, just that it was on a ship, and I think they landed in (Seattle), and then they had to go to, from (Seattle) over to Oregon to find the church.

PW: And what year was this?

EH: 1938.

PW: 1938.

EH: So they were married in March of 1938, and I was born in December, so right after the wedding.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

PW: So tell me, so they landed in Oregon?

EH: Yes.

PW: And you were born in Oregon?

EH: Yes.

PW: Can you tell me anything about the community, where the church was, and where you were growing up?

EH: Well, there was a lot of Japanese farmers in that area, and so there was a farming community, and that's why they had the Japanese church. And most of the members at that time were Issei, because they had just come from Japan. But then the children were all Nisei because they were all born in, or a lot of them were born in the U.S. But my dad, in his history notes that he wrote, he said that they call it the parsonage, so it's where the minister lives. There was no electricity, no water, no toilets, everything was outside, and so it was very... I wouldn't say primitive, but that's the way it was in those days, in the farming areas. But you get used to that, I guess, living out there.

PW: Do you happen to know the name of that first church that he served at?

EH: (Salem Japanese Community Church). They were all just United Methodist or they were called Episcopal Methodist churches. And I think they said Japanese, too, so it was strictly a Japanese church.

PW: Do you know what, or have any idea what kind of duties your father would have as the minister? Especially, he's so new, he just arrived and he's in charge of all of these people in this church. Do you have any idea what work was like?

EH: Well, he had to also speak in English, so he did both Japanese and English. And apparently he learned English pretty quickly. He may have learned some in college in Japan, but I'm not sure about that. And then also he learned to play the piano, because in the services, they had, used to sing hymns. I guess at that time there was no pianist, so he learned to play the piano a little bit there, too. But you do the weekly services, which is usually on Sundays. But then you take care of the congregation, taking care of any issues that come up, that kind of thing.

PW: Did your mom have to work to also...

EH: Not at that time. Because two years after I was born, my sister was born, so there was the two of us. But my wife -- my mother was a very good singer, and so she participated in the chorus, the choir, and did a lot of things with that. But usually the mother or the wife of the minister will do a lot of women things, you know, help cooking whenever there's sessions, things like that.

PW: Again, I'm imagining this is a community of Issei women. And so they all, again, they have just a special culture and community.

EH: Well, yeah. In those days, there was not a lot of connection with the outside world outside of that Japanese American community.

PW: How would you describe your father? What was your father like?

EH: He was very involved in the church. So sometimes I felt that he placed the church above raising his children, that was more important to him. And that was okay with me at that time. And I think he was pretty strict in his teachings, though, about being a Christian and the things you should do and shouldn't do. Because I think many of the Japanese at that time weren't raised as Christians because they were raised in Japan. So they were either Buddhist or Shinto or just had no religion. But in those days, the Buddhist... because there was always a Buddhist church in the same community. So the two churches, the Buddhist church and the Christian church, became meeting places for people because there was no other activities available to them, or hardly any other activities for the people. But most of them were farmers, so they worked a lot of hours on the farms and they didn't have a lot of spare time.

PW: How about your mother? Can you describe what was your mother like?

EH: The interesting thing was that my mother, when she got married, didn't know how to cook. Because... since her father was a judge, and I guess they had a cook to take care of the family, and so she never had to learn how to cook until she got married, so she had to learn all of that. But she was a very good mother, and kind of is the one that raised all of us kids.

PW: You just mentioned that two years after you were born, another sibling was born, another child was born. Can you tell me who that was?

EH: Oh, that was my sister, her name is Nancy, Nancy Minako Horikoshi.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

PW: Can you describe the home that you were living in? Do you remember anything about that?

EH: Well, as I mentioned, some of the things that were missing in the house. I don't remember, we only lived there about three years, and that was, I think from the time I was born to about three years old. So I don't remember the house very much. We did go back to that area when I was in my forties or fifties, but we didn't go inside the house, so I never... but I have lived in so many houses that I don't remember a lot of the situations of the particular house. We just lived there, and that was all I remember.

PW: Can you tell me the name of the town once again?

EH: Salem.

PW: It was in Salem.

EH: Salem is the capital of Oregon, but it's a very small town.

PW: Right. So the unusual part, one unusual part of your narrative, too, was that your family, like you said, were only there for three years before war breaks out, right?

EH: Well, no. Before that, he got assigned to another church, and that was in Washington, and the town was called Wapato, which is in the Yakima valley. It's the middle of Washington, the state of Washington. But there was also a large Japanese farming community there, so we were transferred there, and that's when the war broke out, December 7th. So that was where we found out about that.

PW: What year did you, did the family transfer? Was that, do you think, 1940? Must have been 1940.

EH: Yeah. 1938 to 1941, we were in Salem. 1941 to 1942, we were in Wapato in Washington, so that was the year.

PW: So I also understand that, interestingly, Wapato was not necessarily part of the exclusion area that was marked by...

EH: No, I think it was. [Narr. note: It was originally not part of the exclusion order.]

PW: It was? Okay.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

PW: So what happened when your family received notice that there was going to be this exclusion order?

EH: Okay. Yeah, so we were sent to Portland. It was the relocation center before the camps were built. So that was at a racetrack area, which like most of the other areas, were the same, I understand. Because the accommodations were actually, used to be horse stalls. So the odor was not very good, there was no beds or anything, that you had to have cots that they filled with straw and made the mattresses out of things like that. And then they had a mess hall and toilets separate from the stalls, so each family got a stall as a room. And then depending on how many people, that was the way it worked. So they stayed there for, I think it was... it says, yeah, from June to September 1942. And then they were sent to Heart Mountain, Wyoming, which is where the camp was.

PW: I have another quick question regarding that. Did you have any other family in the United States at that time, or was it just your mother and father?

EH: Oh, just my parents.

PW: So, and then do you remember going to Heart Mountain? I know you were very young, but I thought I would ask.

EH: No. And actually, I have very few memories of being at Heart Mountain. I do remember that it was very sandy there. There were no roads or anything, everything was dirt. But I do remember eating in the mess halls, because everything was served in, the food was served in the mess halls. So I remember going there because you had to stand in line to wait and get food. I have no recollections of either good or bad, the situation there. Everything that I learned about the camps was after, from watching other stories on TV or of listening to people talk about it. But I think like most Issei, my parents there talked very little about the war experience.

PW: I also imagine your father may have had other special duties, because even though he is also like everyone else being put into the camps, he has a congregation. Do you know if there was anything with the church helping people move, helping people store their belongings?

EH: Well, there apparently... what they did is all the Christian ministers got together and they had one church, and then the Buddhist ministers or priests did the same thing. But I think for so many barracks, there was a service, and so I'm not sure how that related. But my dad was... and I don't know if they did much of that there, but my dad was a swimmer and also played tennis, and going through college. And so later on in life, he worked as a lifeguard at certain places or was teaching tennis to kids and stuff. But then a lot of that was helping the people from the church if they had problems, especially emotional types of things. That's what ministers do, and doing marriages and funerals and baptism of children and things like that.

PW: Do you have any idea if he had to do any of that kind of church work in the camp at Heart Mountain?

EH: Yes, yes.

PW: Interesting.

EH: Because right away, they tried to develop all of those things in the camps. They formed the baseball teams and basketball teams, they had dances for the kids, the teenaged kids, parties like that. And then, of course, I think you heard, they had Boy Scouts, I'm sure there was Girl Scouts. But the famous Boy Scout is the one from San Jose, Norman Mineta, yeah. And so those kinds of things they... and they also did, they had sumo tournaments, because that was big in Japan. But I know they played baseball, and they even played football, too, with some of the local teams in the area in Wyoming, outside of the camps as well, tried to make it as American as possible. And some of the ministers my dad remembers from outside of the camp, used to come and help with things going inside the church. Oh yeah, my mother, I just watched a DVD that my mother made for a presentation, but she talked about there was no green in Wyoming, because it was all, and especially in the wintertime, it's just all sand and snow. But I think one minister or minister's wife every Sunday from the town of Cody would bring a vase of flowers to the church. And after church, my mother would take it home, and she would keep it because it was the only green thing in the house. And she would keep it going even when the flowers had dropped, she would just keep the green part until the next time they went, another vase would come over. But she remembered that, and I thought that was interesting.

PW: That's a really good story. Did she work at all in camp? Do you know if she had some kind of job?

EH: I don't think so, no. She worked once we moved out of camp, but not at that time.

PW: I imagine the church duties, even if it's shared by all the Christian ministers at Heart Mountain, that kept your father busy. Services, special holidays, did he ever talk to you about anything like that, like Easter or any other very special Christmas...

EH: I don't remember exactly what he did. And he doesn't talk about that much in what he wrote down.

PW: I think that's great that your father wrote things down.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

PW: So how long do you think they stayed in Heart Mountain?

EH: We moved in 1944, I think it was. Yes, what happened was, in 1944, the war was winding down. And you could leave the camp if you went east, away from the West Coast. You couldn't go back to the West Coast, like to California or to Oregon or Washington. But you can go east, and so my dad had decided he wanted to go to graduate school. And in the Methodist church, there were two universities that had seminaries. And one was in SMU, which is in Texas. But they felt that, at that time, Texas was a little bit too, what's the word? It was a little dangerous to go to Texas. And the other university was Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts. And so that's where he decided to attend, so he applied and got accepted. And so we moved to Boston, the Boston area, in 1944.

PW: When you say dangerous, because of the climate? Because of the war, and the family, and Japanese American, or were you saying something else?

EH: It's because the South was a little anti-Asian at that time, but mostly anti-Japanese. I'm sure it was also for other Asian people also, Chinese and Filipinos and maybe Indians, I don't know. "Redneck" is what I was trying to say. Probably a little dangerous to go there.

PW: So the decision was made to go to Massachusetts?

EH: Yes, and so we went to Boston, Massachusetts.

PW: And so he enrolled into this graduate, was it a theological school?

EH: Yes, it was a seminary at Boston University.

PW: And how old were you about that time?

EH: Six. Because I started kindergarten or first grade over there, so it was just about five or six that I was...

PW: And where did you live when you first got to Massachusetts?

EH: Well, first there was a Japanese boarding house that were taking Japanese people, immigrants. And we stayed there for a while, but then the university had a hospitality committee that would find places for the students to live. And at that time, it was a little tough for Japanese to find places that were willing to accept Japanese citizens or Japanese immigrants. So several of the places that we lived were ministers that were going to that university. They were ministers that were already finished school, they were working, and they had a church or something. But also, we lived with some of the professors from the different universities in the area, or just people that were willing to take immigrants, or people that would be able to work as a cook or as a gardener, things like that, domestic service.

PW: Do you remember any of the families or the places that you had lived?

EH: Oh, yeah, I remember most of it, yeah. Especially as I grew older, there was several that I remember quite a bit. The first one was... do we have time for it? The first was we lived in this town called Lexington, which is one of the towns in Massachusetts. But the couple were professors at Harvard, and they were both in the field of astronomy. And Mr. Gaposchkin, their name was Gaposchkin, Mr. Gaposchkin was an immigrant from Russia, but he was teaching at Harvard. And his wife was an immigrant from England, and she was also a professor. She was very well known internationally, but they were willing to take us in, and so we lived there for a while. That was very interesting there. And over the years, we kept a little bit in contact. One of the sons came out to California when we were living in California, and he went to UC Berkeley, so we got to meet him. And then he passed away about ten or fifteen years ago. His sister came out for the funeral, and so we got to meet her again.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

PW: At that time, it was just your mom, dad, you and your sister, correct?

EH: In the beginning, yes. But it seemed like about every one or two years, we would move to a new house or a new family and live with them, so there were quite a few that I remember. Another family, or another group that was, his name was Wyman, Professor Wyman, was also a professor at Harvard, and he had just lost his wife. So he needed someone to help cook at his house. And so that's, my mother became the cook. So we lived there for a couple years. What was interesting was Mr. Wyman had served in India for a while as a professor, and he got to like Indian food, especially curry. So my mother had to learn how to make curry. So even to this... when we were growing up, she would make curry for us, and I thought that was interesting. But then Mr. Wyman, his wife passed away, but he got remarried. So then he didn't need us, so then we moved on to another house. But after a couple years, he got divorced so we went back to his house. But this time he was living at a different place with a relative of his, their last name was Forbes, and they had a three-story house. And so the third story was for Mr. Wyman and then us. So Mr. Wyman had a bedroom and then we had a couple of bedrooms. And then on the second floor was another family that was working for the Forbes's, and then on the first floor was where the Forbes's lived. It was a huge house. And the Forbes's were descendants of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was kind of famous. And they had (five) kids and a very large area in the suburbs. They lived in the town called Milton, but I remember we lived there for quite a while, so that was very nice. And the unusual thing about them, the Forbes's were both medical doctors, the husband and the wife. But the family also had an island in Cape Cod right near Martha's Vineyard, that famous area, but they had their own island for their family. And we got to spend one summer out there. The unusual thing about that was there was no cars on that island, and there was only horse and buggy. So everybody had a horse and a carriage, and each family had their own house. So we got to spend one summer out there, I still remember that. In all, I think I've lived, in my life, I've lived in ten states in the U.S., and most of them were in that northeast New England area.

PW: So throughout this time, your dad is still at the seminary?

EH: Yes.

PW: Did he also have to work in addition to going to school?

EH: Yes. Usually what would happen is, well, he would get part-time jobs even during the week. But in the summertime, he would take a job with another family, and so we would go to live with that family, and so we met other families as well. And he would either work as a domestic, a butler, or as a gardener, and then my mother would help with the cooking or the families. One of the wealthy families that I remember is they had a three-story house. And the thing I remember about that house was they had an elevator and I had never seen an elevator in a family home. But then we lived... they had a, I think a four- or five-car garage. But above the garage, there was two or three apartments. So we lived in one of the apartments, and then there was two Black ladies that were the cooks, and they had another apartment. They had another apartment. And that was interesting. And then another family, they had a home in Maine, in a town called Lubec, Maine, which was the most northern town in the United States, because it was right on the Canada border. Because across the border was the home of Roosevelt, President Roosevelt, he had a home there. So we lived with that family, and he was a former ambassador to (Spain). And so we spent one summer there. And what I remember about that place was Maine, in that year, Maine had decided that they were going to ban firecrackers after that year, so that was the last year that you could have firecrackers. So all the kids went crazy, and I still remember doing that. Because the next year they were going to ban it and you couldn't have many more. You want any more stories?

PW: Of course. I love stories.

EH: Okay. Another summer we went to Connecticut with this family called, it was Norman Cousins, who was editor of the Saturday Evening Review, which was a famous magazine at that time. And he worked in New York City, but his house was in Connecticut. And he had a nice house, and he played tennis, and my dad played tennis, so they used to play. And one time, my dad got to play with a famous pro, Pancho Gonzales, which was, he was very excited about that. One weekend, Mr. Cousins had a manuscript that he needed to get back to New York City, so he asked me to take it down there. So I got to go on the train, there was a train from Connecticut to New York City, so I had to take that. So there was going to be a guy at the station with a flower on his head or something that was going to pick it up from... so I was only probably twelve or thirteen years old, but I was kind of excited to go on the train. But I went down there, found the guy, and got back on the next train going home.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

PW: So at this point, too, in your age, you're older and you're more conscious of what's happening around you. Did you feel much, any kind of hostility or feelings about you being Japanese American? I imagine like either in school or even on this train by yourself, was there any issue?

EH: No. I never thought about those things, and I never had any incidents, especially negative, of people saying things to me or anything. I don't know why. Either that, or maybe I didn't hear them. But still, we lived with mostly all of these people who were Caucasian, the families that we lived with. But socially, my parents met Japanese who were students at the different colleges. Because in Boston there's Harvard, there's MIT, a lot of famous Universities and they were Japanese students coming over to study, and the my parents would meet them. And we also met a couple of Japanese that were living in that area, and we hooked up with them. So that was basically our social group that we interacted with. And then what would happen is a lot of those students were interested in American history. My parents would take them and we would go, too, but to like the famous sites in Boston, so Plymouth Rock, and then downtown in Boston, the areas where the first war with the British...

PW: Revolutionary.

EH: The Revolutionary War, right. And things happened, Paul Revere rode the horse into town and stuff like that. So we would take them to all these places. We also went to New Hampshire, there were some famous tourist spots there, and also to places like Cape Cod that the Japanese had heard about or were interested in. And so we got to see them all, too. Because at that time, that was kind of interesting to me as far as the American history, because a lot of it happened all in that between Massachusetts and New York and Philadelphia, you know, that whole area is where a lot of that happened, not out here.

PW: Was there a Japanese church that your family joined also in Massachusetts?

EH: No. In those times, we went to the local Methodist church. Or to a church where my father knew the minister in the town or something, so that's what we would do.

PW: Did your father eventually finish the seminary work and start working in a church again in Massachusetts?

EH: No. So what happened was he got his master's degree, and then so he was working on his PhD. But in the last year of his PhD studies, two more kids were born. I had another sister and then a brother, and so that was four of us. My dad said they ran out of money, so they decided that all he needed to finish, he said, was to do a thesis for his PhD, but he couldn't get it done in the time. And I think he was planning to do that, you could do that, you didn't have to be there, you could be somewhere else, and he could send the thesis in or something like that. So a job came up at a church in Oakland, and so they decided to take that because they needed to take care of the family first before the studies, and that's why we moved from Boston to Oakland.

PW: Before we leave Massachusetts, tell me the names of the two children that were born, and do you know when they were born?

EH: Yes. My sister is (Katherine) Aiko Horikoshi, and I can't remember... she was born in Milton.

PW: Massachusetts?

EH: Yes. And I think that was 1950. And then my brother was born, Peter. Peter is... I forgot his middle name, I can give that to you later. But you know Peter (Yoshiro).

PW: What year was Peter born?

EH: So I think he was 1952.

PW: And do you know which town he was born in?

EH: We were living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at that time. So that's where he was born.

PW: Do you have any idea what your father's thesis was supposed to be about, even though he didn't finish it?

EH: No, no, I don't know. He never talked about that too much.

PW: So it sounds like because he felt he had so many children to support, it was time to leave graduate school and go to Oakland.

EH: Yes.

PW: So you must remember that whole move, yes?

EH: Yes. My dad especially always liked camping. In the summertimes we would go camping out in the state parks and things. He bought a car from, I guess, Mr. Wyman, an old car, and then he had a trailer. And so we drove that from Boston all the way to Oakland. And I was only fifteen, so I couldn't drive, and my mother never learned how to drive, she never did, so he had to do all the driving. But along the way, we stopped... first of all, we stopped in Washington, D.C., because there was a Japanese minister there in his family that my parents knew. So we stayed there for a day or so and then we went to Chicago because a lot of people from the Salem church had moved to Chicago after the war. And so there was a group there, and so we spent a couple days there.

PW: That's Salem, Oregon, right?

EH: Yes, yes. And so I guess my parents had kept in touch with some of these people over the years, and so we stayed there. But then from Chicago, we went straight to Salt Lake City, I remember, because there was no other Japanese families to meet and talk to. And then from there we went to Reno and Lake Tahoe and then came to Oakland. So that was my first trip in the Sierra Nevadas, going through that. What I remember though is... oh, actually, it was more in the Rocky Mountains before we got to the Sierra Nevadas, so when we were going through the Colorado area. Some of the roads were very steep. You probably don't remember, but we had a stick shift car. And so my dad had to, I had to help him. He would put, have his foot on the brake and then I would have my foot on the accelerator. If we slowed down so much, then he'd have to shift the gear to a different gear, and then I would have to help him drive the car a little bit up those hills or down those hills. But that was all... I couldn't drive, so that was all I could do. And then we got to Oakland and California.

[Interruption]

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

PW: Okay, so your family moved to Oakland and you're a young teenager. Can you tell me again, so where did the family move into? Was there a home?

EH: There's always a home for the minister, and then they call that the parsonage. So the first place we moved was to Oakland, in the west part of Oakland. And so right next to the church there was an apartment that we lived in, and we lived there for a couple years. So I started... when we left, I had finished in Cambridge, that was the last place we lived in Massachusetts. I finished the eighth grade there, so we came, in the summertime we came out to Oakland, so I was going to start the ninth grade. So there was a, we called them junior high schools in those days, not middle school. But there was a junior high school called Westlake in Oakland that I went to, so I did the eighth grade there. And then the next year, because that was only one year, and then the ninth grade I went to high school. And the first high school I went to was called McClymonds, which is in West Oakland. And at that time, West Oakland was primarily an African American area. And the academics at the school were not as strong as my parents thought I needed. So they decided that we should move to another part of Oakland. So the church stayed the same, but we got an apartment in East Oakland, and so I switched to Oakland High School as my school. So I went there from the eleventh and twelfth grade at Oakland High School, so we moved to East Oakland for that.

PW: In both of the high schools, who were your friends, and what kind of things did you guys like to do?

EH: Okay, well, once we moved to Oakland, most of my friends were from the Japanese American community, either through the church, but we also had friends that went to the Buddhist church. So that became my social group. And so even at Oakland High School, there were a few Japanese Americans there. But most of my friends were from the church and other social groups, and not so much from the school. I did make a few friends there, but nothing that came out of longtime friendships. They were all just for those periods of time. And then so I graduated from there and then I went on to college.

PW: Before we go on to the college part, I'm curious to hear, what kind of, what did you and your friends do for fun?

EH: Mostly things connected to the church. We had a, the church had a basketball team in the Japanese league, so we played basketball against other churches or other... the Boy Scouts also had teams, and so we played in that Japanese league. And then all the other activities surrounded around the church when we did things. Summertime we'd go to camps and things like that.

PW: Did the churches still do picnics at that time or undokai?

EH: I think we had picnics. And as I said, my dad liked to camp, so we would go camping. He would form a group from the church, and we'd go to some national park or state park and camp for a week and things like that, or the rest of the things were things involving the school. Some dances, I remember. A lot of them were, like the local churches would have a social thing and a dance, so we would go to some of those.

PW: Did you go on dates in high school?

EH: Yeah, a little bit. I had a girlfriend for a while, but mostly it was single. But the group at the church, it was coed, so there was always girls there, too.

PW: I meant to ask you this question way back, but what was the primary language that you spoke at home and what was the primary language you spoke with your friends?

EH: English.

PW: English with your friends, and how about at home?

EH: Home, my parents spoke to each other in Japanese. And they spoke a little bit to me in Japanese, but there was a Japanese language class at the church on Saturdays or Sundays. And I went for a little bit, but at that time, I just wasn't that interested in that. And now I regret that, because I wish I had learned more Japanese. In school, I took, my first language that I took was Latin because my parents encouraged me to do that. So I took Latin, and in junior high, I took Spanish, and in college I took German, so I learned a little bit of each. At the time, I never developed an interest in it, so I just learned what I needed to learn for the next test, and that was it. But looking back now, I regret it. I'm glad to say my granddaughter now, who is in high school, is taking Japanese, and I'm very proud that she's doing that.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

PW: So from Oakland High, you graduated, and which college did you apply to? Did you apply to more than one college, and then which one did you go to?

EH: No, I only applied to one, and that was UC Berkeley. And I got accepted there, so that's where I went. My second choice was going to be -- because financially, I didn't think that we could afford any other university. So if I didn't get into that, I was going to go to junior college, and there were several in the Oakland area that I could have attended. But the main reason was this way I could live at home, because driving from Oakland to Berkeley is not a problem, and I did that for the first year. And actually, I had a friend, I met a friend who lived in Alameda who had a car, because I didn't have a car. He would pick me up every day and take me home every day, so that worked out very well.

PW: Your parents were, and your family still lived in East Oakland?

EH: Yes.

PW: So tell me what it was like for you to step onto campus at Cal. At this point, it's what year when you started college?

EH: Yeah, I graduated high school in 1956, so this was in the fall of 1956. So I spent two years there at Berkeley. And I developed a whole new group of friends, almost all of them were Japanese Americans. There was a boarding house right near Berkeley that was run by a Japanese Buddhist, a priest. And he had a lot of boys living there it's almost like a boarding house. Because I think his mother, his wife used to cook every day for the kids. So we used to go there after school and hang out before we went home. And then I met guys that were in the same classes that I was taking. It was mostly, kind of pre-med kind of classes. And those were the kids that I met, studied with and played with. But I had no interest in going into the medical field or the dental field. A lot of my friends were thinking about that. But then I decided maybe a pharmacy would be a good field for me or optometry, because those were kind of medical also, and different kind of focus. So I applied to the pharmacy school and I got accepted. So after... you only need to go to two years of pre-pharmacy, and then you can go to the pharmacy, start the pharmacy school, so that's what I did.

PW: Which school, where was that?

EH: So that was at UC San Francisco, at the med center in San Francisco. So then that's why I only stayed two years at Berkeley. In retrospect, I think I should have stayed longer because there was a lot of courses that I would have liked to have taken, but I didn't because you had to take all the pre-pharmacy courses, or the pre-medical courses. So I never got to take some of the more interesting arts and kinds of studies that I never got a chance to take. But at the time, I was thinking more about graduating and getting a job and making some money, so that's what I did.

PW: Were you part of any clubs or social groups beyond just your informal friend groups when you were at Cal?

EH: At Cal, no. I never joined any groups.

PW: And again, what would your friends, you and your friends do as activities? You're kind of free from your family, you're out of their sight for the first time.

EH: Mostly it involved activities at school, like going to sports games, football or basketball. I liked to watch track meets. And then there were some social things, dances and things in the area that we would go to. But that was about it, most of the time was spent studying, so a lot of time at the library, things like that.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

PW: So in order to attend the pharmacy school at UCSF, did you move to San Francisco?

EH: No. So the first year, I didn't... actually, what happened was my parents moved from Oakland to Florin, California, I don't know if you know where that is, near Sacramento. So I had no place to live.

PW: What year was this?

EH: This was in 1958. But then the minister, the English-speaking minister, lived in, for our church, lived in Berkeley. And he offered me, they offered me to stay at their house. So I lived there for, actually, for the first semester. And I found a friend that had also lived in Berkeley. Because he was from L.A., but his sister lived in Berkeley. This is another Japanese American kid that I met, but he had a car, so he and I would drive across the bridge to San Francisco every day and then come home to Berkeley. But when I got to the, San Francisco, I met some new friends there. And one of them was, he was living in the fraternity house right near school. These were pharmacy fraternities, and they had six or eight or ten kids, almost all boys, that were living there. So I found an apartment there, not apartment, but a room there.

PW: In the fraternity?

EH: Yeah. So then I moved there, and I didn't have to commute every day, because that was kind of tough. Of course, it's even worse now, but anyway, even those days, it was a lot of driving back and forth. So I lived there for a year or half a year, and then I found three other boys that were also looking for apartments, and we found a flat. So four of us moved into a flat, and all happened to be Japanese Americans. One from Monterey and two from Watsonville, and one from Mountain View. So I guess there was... oh no, and then one from Los Angeles. There was actually six of us, I guess. But anyway, we got a place to live. And so I lived there for almost the whole time.

PW: Were you officially part of the fraternity, like did you join the fraternity?

EH: No, so while I was living at that fraternity, I wasn't a member, it wasn't required. Actually, there was another fraternity that I did join later on, a couple years later. So they weren't restrictive like the regular fraternities, like at Berkeley, so a lot of the... because a lot of the students at pharmacy school were minorities, ethnic minorities.

PW: So you mean that the ones at Berkeley were mostly racially restrictive, so you couldn't join because you were Japanese American?

EH: Yes. I think there was a... I don't know if it was Asian or just Japanese, but there was an Asian community, fraternity, and I think there was a Black community, Black fraternity. But you couldn't get into the white fraternities at that time.

PW: But UCSF was different? Those fraternities were mixed?

EH: Yes, yes.

PW: Which fraternity did you join? What was the name of it?

EH: It was called Phi Delta Chi.

PW: And were there, again, activities or things that you did as a fraternity group?

EH: No, we used to have some meetings, but it wasn't very social. So I don't remember doing much with the fraternity itself, except when I got accepted, then I got a ring and that was it.

PW: Have you stayed in touch with many of these fraternity brothers?

EH: No.

PW: Did you have to work as a student while you were attending...

EH: Yes.

PW: Where did you work?

EH: I worked at several places. Well, all through high school, I also worked. In high school I worked for Japanese gardeners, working on the weekends.

PW: How was that?

EH: Well, I realized that was not what I wanted to do as a profession. I made money, so that was good. I also worked at a gas station a friend of mine's parents owned, and that was in Chinatown, so that was a good job, too. But then once I got to pharmacy school, after my first year, I got a job at a local pharmacy in San Francisco, actually, in the area called Potrero Hill, which I enjoyed quite a bit. But that helped financially because at that time, my parents didn't have a lot of money. Because my younger brother and sister were still in high school, so then they needed help, too.

PW: And to keep track of your parents, so they're in Florin at this point while you're in the pharmacy school?

EH: Yes.

PW: Okay, so I always have to keep track, because your dad's going to move again, I know it. [Laughs]

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

PW: So how many years were you at UCSF?

EH: Four years.

PW: Four.

EH: Yeah, that was a four years' program there. That was '58 to '62.

PW: '58 to '62. And so once you graduated from the pharmacy school, where did you go? Did you meet, did you start working, did you stay in San Francisco?

EH: No. What happened was I got drafted. After I graduated in 1962, and then you had to study and pass the state bar exam, the state pharmacy exam to become a registered pharmacist, so I did that. And a lot of my friends -- at that time, if you were a male, you were eligible to be drafted for the military service. But there was one way that you could avoid serving a long time, you could do a six months' tour as an active person. And then I think it was like four and a half years of... inactive, you only had to go once a month to a class. But I made a mistake and I didn't join that. So what happened was, in November, I got drafted, and I had to serve two years. So when you get drafted, you had to go to the beginning training, which was in Fort Ord in Monterey, California. And then an assignment that I was given, I was sent to Texas to San Antonio, Texas. There was a pharmacy technician school in Texas that trained students to become a pharmacy technician. So you're not a pharmacist, but the pharmacists need help running a pharmacy. But they needed pharmacists to train the technicians on their duties. So I was sent there to become an instructor there, which I did. So I served two years in the army there.

PW: And, of course, this is during the Vietnam war, we're talking about.

EH: Just starting.

PW: Right. So with that just starting, and this is an important piece of history as well, what was the energy like for you to join the army at that time?

EH: Well, I didn't enjoy it, but I had to do it because I had no choice. And so what I did was I took the state exam in Texas to be a registered pharmacist there, and I passed that. So I used to work part time nights and some weekends in local pharmacies in the San Antonio area. And I used to make more working part time than the military was paying me. And so that worked out okay. And Texas is a little different than California in many ways. I wouldn't call it interesting, but it was different.

PW: I'm remembering you saying that your father, when he was considering the graduate school in Texas, he was always hesitant because of the racism he was worried about. And again, with the Vietnam War, you're Asian, this is the Vietnam War. Was it ever an issue for you when you were in Texas?

EH: No, it wasn't, I don't know why. What was interesting down there, though, is that we were training, they called them the Green Berets, which were kind of like the seals are now. The Green Berets had teams like eight or ten guys, and they were going to specific assignments. So one of the people had to have some medic training. And one was a medic and one was a sniper and all of these other specialties that they had. So we had to teach the boys that were going to become the medic. So we taught them a little bit about what drugs to use and that kind of thing, because we're not going to teach them the medical part, but we needed some information on the pharmacy part and the drugs and that kind of thing. And that group was, they were crazy kids.

PW: How so?

EH: Hmm?

PW: How so?

EH: Oh, they were wild young men. I mean, they were willing to do anything. If we see them in the bars, then they're the ones that get into trouble all the time. They're very masculine, but they were interesting to handle, to deal with. Some of them were pretty intelligent, but they liked to drink and get into it.

PW: You're about the same age as all the guys that are going into the war.

EH: Little younger. Yeah, I was a little older than they were. Because most of them were right out of high school.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

PW: But you're also coming of age during that civil rights period and then there's awakenings happening on college campuses everywhere, and then Vietnam War, I don't know. Did any of this affect you in your thinking, particularly about being Japanese American?

EH: No, I don't think so. The one thing I remember about living down there was I was there the day that President Kennedy was shot in Texas, because he was going to come to our post the next day. Because he was visiting the army bases, and so he was going to come to San Antonio the next day. So that whole week that we had been cleaning up our base. So they were cleaning the roads and the barracks and everything to make it look good for the President to come. And so we were really shocked when that happened. When I was living in the barracks, though, down there, see, I was the only Asian. At that time, I didn't notice those things. There were kids from all over the U.S. One of my friends was from Massachusetts and one was from Texas, one was from Washington, so all different. And a couple of Black kids, mostly Caucasian, though. But we all got along fine, so I don't know. But because some of the other guys in the barracks, there was other training, they were training other medical field people, so they were all, almost all of them were college educated, so that was, maybe that made some difference, and anti-racist... I never experienced anything, even when I was working in the local pharmacies, I never had any problems because of race.

PW: So when you finished your service, I believe that was '62 to '64, where did you go?

EH: Oh, so I came back home and then my parents were living in Florin, so I moved to Florin. Then I got a job at a local pharmacy, the chain called Thrifty's, I don't know if you... and then I worked for another company. I lived in, I got an apartment in Sacramento, which is near Florin, for a while. But then the company that I joined had an opening, they had another pharmacy in San Francisco that was looking for someone. I took that job, then I moved to San Francisco and worked there for a couple years.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

PW: Before we follow you to San Francisco, I want to pause in Florin with your whole family. Florin is well-known for having a pretty large Japanese American community. Can you describe what that was like when you went from Texas to Florin and saw, you caught up with your family again?

EH: Well, yeah. I didn't get involved much in the church at that time. As you may know, I went to church almost every Sunday until I was in high school. Once I started college, I didn't go to churches much, the services. So that continued after that for the remainder of my life. But then what happened was my folks left for, and I didn't realize this, but I just found out from reading some of the history that my sister gave me, that the church in Florin, the Japanese church in Florin, and then there was a Japanese church in Sacramento, and they decided to merged the two churches. But they felt, they didn't want the minister at either church to run the new church because they felt that would kind of, the other church would feel that if their minister's not there, so they thought they'd put in a new minister there to start the new church. And so that's when my folks took a job in Toronto, Canada, and so they moved to Canada. And then what happened then was my brother Peter was still in high school. Kathy was, I think, already in college at Berkeley, but Peter was still in high school. And he found out that in Canada, you don't go twelve years, you go thirteen years. [Laughs] That means you had to spend another year in high school wherever he lived, and he wasn't interested in that. So my folks asked if I could take Peter in. Because at the time I was living in San Francisco, I had an apartment, but then I decided to move to Berkeley and buy a house there and Peter could live with me and then go to Berkeley High School, so that's what happened. And so my folks moved to Canada and then I moved to Berkeley.

PW: And Kathy's at Berkeley, too?

EH: Yeah, Kathy's at Berkeley. And then she moved in with me, too. And for a while, well... then actually at that time, I also got married to my wife, so she entered the picture. But then my other sister Nancy already was married, but her husband was going to a seminary in Berkeley also. So they moved in with us, too, because the house that I had was large enough. And so we had everybody there for a couple years. So Peter finished up high school in Berkeley High, and then Kathy, she took a year off from Berkeley and went to college in Japan. [Interruption] (Kathy) learned her Japanese quite well over there because you have to if you're living there. And she learned a lot of the culture and traditions. So that's what happened there. And then Peter started college at Berkeley, and he lived with us for the... well, then he got into one of the dormitories on campus so he lived up there, but he was very close to us at that time, too.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

PW: Tell me when and where did you meet your partner?

EH: My partner?

PW: Your wife.

EH: I was working at this pharmacy in San Francisco, and we used to hire these students from pharmacy school, interns. Because you need to work so many hours in the pharmacy before, to get your license. You had to have experience. So one of the interns that I hired was a Chinese (American) girl from Sacramento. She and my best friend in pharmacy school kind of hooked up. And she had a friend who went to Cal with her, that was living in Los Angeles and used to come up to visit. So she came up, and so they needed somebody to be an escort for her, and that turned out to be me and that's how we met. She's not Japanese American, she's Jewish American, and that's how I got involved in the Jewish faith.

PW: Again, she was from Los Angeles, is that correct?

EH: Yes.

PW: So she would have to come and visit you?

EH: Well, yeah. So she used to visit her friend in Sacramento, or she'd come up once in a while and then so I would see her once in a while and then she came up a few times and we met in San Francisco, and that's how that got started. I don't know if I ever went down to see her in L.A., but I don't remember. [Narr. note: I went to see her in and went to L.A. twice.]

PW: And what is her name?

EH: Her name is Joan.

PW: What was her maiden name?

EH: Wilson.

PW: Wilson?

EH: Yes.

PW: And you got married in what year?

EH: 1968.

PW: And where did you get married?

EH: In Los Angeles. And it was, she got a rabbi to do part of the ceremony, and then my dad helped with part of the ceremony. So it was kind of a bi-, what do you call it, bi-religious ceremony, little bit of each.

PW: Was it held in a religious building or was it like...

EH: No, it was at a, not a community center, but it was a... it was like a town hall, I can't remember exactly what it was. [Narr. note: It was at Sportsman´┐Żs Lodge, a hotel and dining room in Studio City, California.]

PW: And how did your parents feel about this, you marrying outside of the Japanese...

EH: My parents were open to it because my older, my sister Nancy had married a Caucasian fellow before that, before I did. And I guess her parents were not real happy in the beginning, but they accepted it. But at that time, it was not as prevalent as maybe it is now, but it seemed to work. And I never had any trouble getting jobs or anything because of that.

PW: You said it was the beginning of your involvement in the Jewish faith. Can you tell me more about that?

EH: Well, no, it's just that I was more, not involved in the faith so much, but I was just aware of people that were Jewish. The turmoil that they had suffered over the years, especially starting with the Holocaust. All the racism or anti-religious feelings that the Jewish people have gotten, and even now, it's still very prominent. But it's the same with the racism with anti-Blacks, and now especially the last couple years against Asians, anti-Asian things, which I think was a little political, but that's beside the point. And then now, also it's anti-Muslim. Those things bother me, but I'm not sure how we can fix those things.

PW: Did you and your wife have children?

EH: Yes, so we had two children.

PW: And their names and when they were born?

EH: [Laughs] I can't tell you the dates of that, but the children are Stephanie (November 20, 1970), and her middle name is Tomoko, and her last name is Fong now, she's married. And her husband is, I don't know if you want his name, too, but his name is Gaetano Fong. He is half Japanese and half Chinese. So my daughter is half Japanese and half Caucasian, and then they have two children. So the children are also half Japanese and a quarter Chinese and a quarter Caucasian. And then I have a son, his name is Gregory, and his middle name is (Howard Yoshito, March 13, 1973). And he's married to a Caucasian girl, her name is Heather, and they have two children, two girls, and one's name is Payton and the other one is named Kayla, and I don't know if they have middle names, but I don't know that for sure.

PW: Where did you raise your children? At that time, when the babies were born and you were building your family, where were you living?

EH: The kids were both born in the Berkeley area. But after a couple years, we decided to move, so we moved from there to the Danville area, which is outside of Walnut Creek. And so they were both raised in (...) the Danville area up through high school. And now, one of them lives in Dublin and one lives in El Cerrito, so all of them are local in the area.

PW: Yeah, pretty close.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

PW: And what about your parents then? Did they... so from Toronto they came to your wedding, but then what happened to your parents?

EH: Okay. So then they stayed in Toronto from 1968 to 1973. And I don't know why they moved, but what happened was that Canada, after the war, opened up their entry for immigrants quite a bit. And so a lot of people from Japan moved to Canada, and so they needed a Japanese-speaking minister. And I think the one that was there had retired, so they needed a new one, and that's the job that my dad took. Because that church actually happened to be larger in population than any of the churches in the Oakland, or in the California area. But then they left that, and then in 1973, my parents took the job in San Jose, at the San Jose church, the Methodist church there. And they stayed there until 1978. And actually, at that time, my dad kind of retired, but he took a job in Japan, at a Japanese church in Japan. And they stayed there from 1978 to 1981.

PW: Do you know where in Japan?

EH: It was in (Tsurukawa), Tokyo, I forgot the town. Because we went over to visit them when they were there. But I think they wanted to see what it was like in Japan. I don't know if I told you this, but my parents went back to Japan in the '60s on a visit. Because they had left in 1938, so that was what, over twenty years. And one of my uncles in Japan told my dad, "Your Japanese sounds really funny." Or maybe not funny, but different. Because it's almost prewar Japanese, it's not current. And I always remembered when, and they all thought that was funny. So they were there for, until 1981, yeah. And then '81, they decided to retire and they moved back into Berkeley. And so they lived in Berkeley for a couple years. They had an apartment '81 to '83 and then they moved from '83, they moved to a house in Oakland, '83 to '88. By then, they were getting too old to live together, I mean, to live separately, and so that's when Kathy offered them to come to her house in Richmond where she lives. And so they moved in 1988 to Richmond and stayed with my sister, because she had room in her house, and that's where they both passed away there.

PW: Did they ever become U.S. citizens? Do you remember anything about redress?

EH: Well, they did have a little problem from when they moved to Canada, getting back into the United States. And actually, Joan's father is a lawyer, and he helped them get the proper paperwork. But they had no desire to become American citizens. Although my mother said that, you know the no-no/yes-yes, not story, but they both put "yes-yes." Because at that time, they were not happy with what was happening in Japan becoming too militaristic, and they felt that it was better to stay in the U.S. at that time. Because the people that voted no, a lot of them were sent back to Japan. And the situation in Japan right after the war was terrible and there was no food, no jobs. It took a long time for Japan to recover. And especially if you're from the U.S., I think they were not welcome a lot. And they had no... my dad once said, because I asked him why he never became a U.S. citizen, he didn't want to be a second class citizen in the U.S. That's the way he felt. But when they were living in Japan, I told my parents that they should move back to the U.S. after they finish in Japan at that church because his whole family is here. All the kids are here, the grandkids are here. They said one of the reasons they did go to Japan, because his mother was still alive, and she passed away a couple years after that. And she was, I think she was in her hundreds when she passed away, so she had lived a long life. But he had a few, my mother had a few relatives in Japan, but he had none at that time, I don't think, or maybe just one, he had one sister that was living in Japan. But the rest of his immediate family was here in the United States and so it made sense. So that's what they did when they came back.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

PW: What about with redress and reparations? Because they were incarcerated, I assume they received a check?

EH: Yes. They got a check.

PW: And what were they thinking, do you know?

EH: About what? About getting...

PW: I'm sorry, but yeah. Did they say anything about that when they received the check or if they'd heard about the movement, get an apology from the President?

EH: I never talked to then about that, but I know they got the money, and I got reparation and my sister got reparations, but Kathy and Peter did not, because they were born, they didn't go to camp. They were born after camp. So actually, I gave some of my money to Kathy and Peter, because I didn't really need the money, all of it. Because I felt... and it's funny, because in many ways, her generation, maybe yours, were more interested in the camp life than I was, because I was so young. And most of the Issei never talked about life in camp, so they tried to put it away or something. Or maybe they were too bitter, I don't know. I never talked to most of the Issei that I know about their camp experience. Like growing up, when I was making friends all of these years, that's one of the first questions I always asked them, "Which camp were you in?" Because they were all about my age when I'm going to college and high school. One of the questions that my mother, or not questions, but one of the statements that she made that was interesting, when she gave this talk about the camps. Because Wyoming was one of the last, Heart Mountain was one of the last camps to be built. And so most of the people came from, they came from Washington, Wapato. They were from the northern Washington area. But they were getting people that, from all over the state, especially in Southern California, people that were registered later. They had no place in the other places, they got people from all over, especially Southern California. And my mother said she thought the people in Southern California were (Mexican) because they were so dark-skinned. Because there's more sun down there than in Washington. Maybe not (...), but then they were much more tan. And I don't know if you've noticed, but the Japanese ladies and Chinese ladies, too, they always want to avoid getting a tan, they like to keep their skin very light. And I don't know why, but medically, it's probably better not to get a tan anyway, it's not good for you.

PW: Did you talk to your kids about camp when they were growing up?

EH: They never asked, hardly, I don't remember. And for me, all of the Japanese American experiences, my interests didn't start until my college years or after that. Pharmacy years was when all of that came about. But I don't think my kids just had much interest in that part. They never asked a lot of questions, that's for sure. And even my experiences are more from watching movies or DVDs of people having talked about their experience, or books that I have read that may have described what was going on.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

PW: One final question for you...

EH: Okay.

PW: ...because we're an educational resource, is to ask, what do you think we, all Americans, can learn about the Japanese American experience of incarceration during World War II? Given your own experience, what you learned through the movies and the DVDs and your parents...

EH: I think what this country needs to learn is to be more accepting of the ethnic minorities in our country or in the world. And so we need to be more accepting of those people, our people, whether you're Asian or whether you're African American, whether you're Muslim. I think those are all wrong to be anti. And so I try to speak out when I hear those things or people say something. And hopefully, the way I act toward other people will reflect that. And in some ways, maybe where I'm living is a chance for me to do that, because it's mostly a Caucasian community in the suburbs. So it's my chance to show them that just because I'm an ethnic minority, I'm the same as they are, and they need to accept that. But I also feel that I'm not a member of Densho, but I belong to JACL. So I feel that belonging to some ethnic organizations and trying to help them, at least financially, is important. And that's why I think the religious part, too, was, I appreciate the religious community, the ethnic and religious community. And now that my wife is also in many ways an ethnic person, we need to make sure that that is recognized also and accepted. But I haven't given a lot of thought to what I should do, but...

PW: Maybe not be so much that the burden was on you and what you have to do, but I'm, again, I'm asking more like what can be learned? Imagining from your grandchildren's perspective, what can they learn from that, what their families went through? Is there a piece of that, if anything, that they should be...

EH: Well, I feel that living in the East Coast, especially California, is different than living in, say, in the Midwest or in the eastern areas. What I feel really encouraged, is the fact that, especially during the Trump years and even now with the thing in Ukraine and with the Covid, I've noticed that a lot of the people that are on TV, whether they're the doctors or just the news people, there's a lot of ethnic minorities on there. I never realized that there were that many living in, like, Atlanta or in all of the other states in the country. So I'm glad to see that. Of course, then Atlanta had the problem with the three deaths that happened to those women. But even, like in the Muslim, there's several Muslim reporters that I've seen, so it's not all white. And a lot of African American people were working, too, so those I think are, it's progress. It's just these very right-wing people that are the ones involved in the January 6th thing, you know. They have to be changed a little bit. I do have to mention that when I was in the service, when we used to go drinking in the bars, I always went with a couple of my friends from the barracks, I never would go myself simply because I wouldn't feel safe going into a bar by myself because I'm Asian. So sometimes you have to keep those things in mind, but it looks like the country is becoming more ethnic than before, and I think that's a good thing. So to me, that's a good sign. And I think when issues come up, then that's the time people need to speak up. Either protest or find out what is the right thing to do. I forget who, someone said once, there has to come a day when you don't have to say, "I'm Japanese American," and you can just say, "I'm an American," you don't have to put the first part in. "I'm African American." But we're not at that point yet.

PW: Is there anything else you wanted to just share with me, just entirely your thoughts?

EH: I think I've said what was on my mind about this issue.

PW: Thank you.

EH: I appreciate your spending the time with me.

PW: No, I mean, again, kochiro koso, you're the one that came to sit in the chair for me. And so I guess we'll stop.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.