Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Hubert Yoshida Interview
Narrator: Hubert Yoshida
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: April 7, 2022
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-506-15

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TI: So at Longmont you mentioned a little bit of school. And I have you down attending, like kindergarten, first grade?

HY: Not there. I was in, when we moved to Denver I started...

TI: Oh, in Denver. Denver, I see.

HY: I started kindergarten.

TI: So why move from Longmont to Denver?

HY: Well, actually, again, my father wanted to be on his own. So after Longmont, actually, he moved to another farm in South Navajo, Colorado, the place was called South Navajo, and farmed for one year. We had a hailstorm that wiped out the crop, and so then we moved to Denver, and somehow he started an appliance repair business. I don't know how, what he knew about appliances. I mean, here was a guy from Hawaii who learned how to farm in California, and now he's opening an appliance store. I don't know how he did that. But we were in the city of Denver and he opened up a store, repair store. And that's where I started school, kindergarten and first grade there. And that's when things were bad.

TI: How so?

HY: Oh, just running into kids, calling me names and things. And you know when you're in first grade, second grade, you don't know how to fight or anything like that. I remember getting into it with one kid, older kid, and he just kept throwing me down and I'd get up and go after him again. He did that 'til he got tired and he left, but I just would not give up. Of course, my older brother, he was, what, third, fourth grade, so he would fight back. He would carry rocks with him and he would give as good as he took. And then, eventually, I think, they left him alone. But for me, I think that's the difference between the older kids and the younger kids. The younger kids would kind of withdraw, kind of be on your own, whereas the older kids would fight and get back. So my brother was more, was louder than me, I was more of a reserved kid and he was more of an outgoing kid.

TI: So you're talking almost like birth order, too, because he was older?

HY: Oh, yeah. He was older and he could fight, I mean, he could do that, whereas what do you know about fighting when you're in kindergarten?

TI: So do you think this experience of being like a kindergarten, first grade, getting essentially bullied, that made you more withdrawn?

HY: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I was quieter and withdrawn. When we went back to Watsonville, this is, we started in a two-room school house.

TI: Before we go there, when you'd come home after these fights, what was the reaction of your mother and father?

HY: Oh, my mother was very, of course, very upset. My father said I should fight back. But he would console me, too. Yeah, I guess it was bullying, and I think he did go and talk to the teacher at that time. But it didn't change much. So that was an uncomfortable time. I mean, up to then, I was having a great time.

TI: Did your brother Victor give you any advice or any help when this was happening?

HY: Yeah. Well, he said...

TI: Carry rocks? [Laughs]

HY: Carry rocks. The first time went to school, he was picking up rocks, and I thought he was just picking up pretty rocks. So I was kind of appalled when he started throwing those rocks at the other kids.

TI: And tell me, in this neighborhood, was it pretty much all white?

HY: Yeah it was all white.

TI: Okay, so you were like the only Japanese there?

HY: Yeah. But you know, there were some Jewish kids in that neighborhood. And the Jewish kids were great. I mean, they didn't hassle me. In fact, I think one, couple times, they came to tell the other kids to back off.

TI: And just as, before we go to Watsonville, I just wanted to kind of note that a lot of Japanese went to Colorado because of the governor, Governor Carr, who was very welcoming to Japanese families coming from the camps. He was essentially really the only governor that was doing that. And so he lost the next election because of his stance to help Japanese.

HY: Oh, that's good to know.

TI: And just kind of thinking of how in the know your family was, they probably heard that Colorado was probably a more welcoming place than other places This was during the war, especially. So it sounds like after the war, your family makes it back to Watsonville. Talk about how that was with you. Because now you're at the point where you're probably starting, you have more memories.

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