Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Henry Miyatake Interview II
Narrator: Henry Miyatake
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 4, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-mhenry-02

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Let me start off with a quick video slate where today's Monday, May 4th, 1998. I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda and the videographer is Matt Emery and today we're interviewing again Henry Miyatake. This is the, the second interview session. And the last session Henry, we talked about, pretty much your early childhood memories, going all the way up to Puyallup. And what I thought where we'd start today was, one of the things that you, you mentioned last time was, you talked about your, your experiences. What I really recall was in 6th grade when you gave a very pro-American speech. And then over the course of, of a couple of years... you saw things change to the point where now you're, we're in Puyallup in terms of the story. And you're, you're incarcerated for the first time. And I thought it would be interesting to get just your recollections of what you were thinking, as a twelve year old boy during this period being incarcerated in Puyallup. So why don't we start there.

HM: Okay. Before we went to camp my brother decided that because we were restricted to the luggage we could carry, he was going to bring his own vehicle into the camp. And he had a Model A Roadster and he had a converted engine in the thing: had a V-8 in there. And he had spent a lot of work and energy converting it to the configuration he wanted. But because we were bringing, we were able to bring the vehicle in, we decided to pack it with all the essentials that we needed. So his position was, we'll risk the vehicle and we won't know what's gonna happen to it, but on the other hand, we can bring in enough stuff so that we could accommodate our family needs. So consequently we were able to bring in a lot more supplies than the other families had. As soon as we got into camp of course, they confiscated the vehicle and put it into an impound area.

But the camp itself was a kind of bad experience for everybody. And this is the first time I was forced to sleep on hay, hay and straw filled cots. And we had to haul water from the center of the race track where we were located, to the water facilities. So if you wanted to wash your face and hands in the morning, you had to bring a bucket and fill it up and bring it back to your barrack area. This is the first time our family had to sleep in one room. So consequently listening to everybody else over the top of the partitions caused a great deal of discomfort for...

TI: And as all these things were happening, what were you thinking inside about the rightness of what was going on?

HM: Well, I, I guess my parents kind of conditioned me to the fact that if the war did come about, we're not gonna be treated like normal people. And the sense of gaman -- being able to put up with the conditions -- I guess just kind of overruled all my personal feelings.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

HM: Unfortunately we were put in Block 1 in area D which is in the main fairgrounds area. And they had put in clean barracks inside of the race track area. They had a six furlong race track at that time in front of the grandstands and it was a circular racetrack and they had installed a whole bunch of barracks in it. And we were almost in the geometric center of that race track and we had the longest barrack of any of the barracks that they installed there. Our barrack had seventeen units in the barrack. And the reason why I remember is because we were located in the fourth from the end and I would, at nighttime, I would make sure I counted so I wouldn't go in the wrong barrack. But, and if I came in from the other side, I would know what, what number to count. We had to establish where we were. It was a long walk from there to the mess hall, to the laundry room, to the sanitation station. So it made life very uncomfortable for all of us. And unfortunately we were put in a block that a lot of my friends were not located in, so consequently we were queued in the mess hall by the block number.

TI: That's right.

HM: So we were in Block 1 and they would rotate which block would eat first and what shift. And I would like, you know, at that time I liked to have, have eaten lunch and dinner with my friends, but unfortunately I was in Block 1 and there were very few friends located in that area. So consequently I would get in line with the other guys. And invariably this character, that happens to be still a Seattle resident, used to haul me out of the line and say, "You're in the wrong block." So either I didn't eat or, because I felt so ticked off at the guy that I didn't want to wait in the proper line. In fact it might have already been Block 1 previous to that, so I lost my place, so.

TI: Now this individual who did this was, was he sort of in an official capacity, and that was his, quote his job to do that?

HM: Well yeah, he was... that was his job, to make sure that people from wrong blocks didn't get into the line and also that the people didn't get into the multiple sequence of having two meals at one time.

TI: So this was an example of, of sort of self policing or, or the, the sort of camp administrators or the officials using other Japanese Americans to self police themselves.

HM: Yeah. It was an over zealous example of this kind of policing action.

TI: Was it a case where he did this with everyone, or did he single you, do you think to, to make this happen?

HM: I think he singled me out for some reason, I don't know. Maybe it was because he knew our family and there might have been some other ulterior motives on his part. But anyway, I got so fed up with this, I told my brother and so he says, "Well, you know these guys are acting beyond their normal responsibilities so you got to put up with them. They got the ego kick and they got something in power now and they're gonna do whatever they can." So I made it a practice to either sneak in the lines past that guy's point or resolved to eat by myself, or eat with one of the members of my family. So that was a kind of bad part for me. Because once the group that I used to belong in ate their meals, well they would go out and do some kind of activity. Well if you're three sequences down the line and you ate your meal an hour later than those guys, why those guys are already playing someplace and I'd find myself having to do things individually.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

HM: And I... at that point my brother says, "Okay, they need some more guys to do some electrical work, so you know more electrical stuff than these guys do. Why don't you come and work in this electrical shop?" So I was the youngest member of that electrical crew and they had a location in the fairground grandstand, underneath the grandstand. And the office was the former booth for the KMO Radio Station from Tacoma. So they had a sound proof booth and triple glass in the thing, and it was pretty interesting set up. And because my brother felt that I could do my part in the electrical gang there. He thought it would be a good experience for me to deal with these people and have some physical working relationship with the electrical problems they're having at the camp.

Now these barracks were all designed for minimal electrical loads and people started using hot plates and coffee makers and hot water heaters and things of this nature, electrical types. And invariably like in the barrack that we were in -- because we had seventeen units and they had a 30 ampere, two circuit system, -- people, when they started using the hot-plates and things of this nature, invariably the fuse would go out. So people would replace the fuses with a copper penny in there and they would screw it in there and we were wondering when the next fire was going to start. So one of our jobs was to go around and make sure that the fuses were not intervened with these copper pennies. And we were trying to indoctrinate the people saying, "Hey, you're gonna cause your own problem if you put in these pennies. So please don't put in the pennies." And that was part, part of our training process. But I don't think that was very effective because we collected a lot of pennies.

TI: And were there fires at, at Puyallup?

HM: There were small fires, yeah. But they were relatively insignificant. But the people wanted to heat things up or cook things in their own unit and that was the only way to do it.

TI: And by being part of this electrical crew did that give you more flexibility as to when you ate?

HM: Well I ate with the crew so I had no problem after that. Then I used to sneer at the guy as I walked past him. But I think it did more harm than good for myself. [Laughs]

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Why don't we, why don't we move on to Minidoka right now. And why don't you talk about, sort of the transition. How, how did you go from Puyallup to Minidoka and, and in terms of what phase, were you, did you leave early, the mid part or later?

HM: Well when they opened up the Minidoka, my brother volunteered for the advance crew because he was, he had some electrical capabilities. And they decided they could use him because they said that they wanted to get some assistance in the electrical pumping system. They had a whole bunch of water wells, I guess. And so consequently my brother volunteered for that. And unfortunately prior to that they sold off all the vehicles for, for the public auctioning of the vehicles and the people inside the camp weren't allowed to bid of course. And they sold my brother's vehicle for $10 and they gave him the $10 and he was really heartbroken. I, I'd never seen him so despondent before or after that. But anyway he, he left early for Minidoka. And when we got there he was waiting for us when we arrived at the spur. He had advance knowledge of when we were coming. And the place was a huge dust storm area and the only thing you could see was a big cloud of dust on the horizon and that's where the camp was. And when we got to our block, which was Block 19, the water facilities weren't running. So my brother was trying to expedite the water system so that we could at least have water in the block. But they were hard pressed to keep up with the increasing demands of the, incoming population. And the barracks weren't completely finished, there was all kinds or problems, and there was... huge piles of lumber across the street from the block. And everything was in a huge chaos and then the winds would come up and create all kinds of dust conditions that were very difficult to put up with. But the conditions at Minidoka were kind of different I guess from other places like -- I had listened to people from Heart Mountain. And they had all their school buildings built. They had a gymnasium built. In Minidoka's case they hardly built anything other than the sewage facility, which was not complete at that time. And they hadn't built all the structures for all the barracks. So consequently it was a chaotic mess.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Before we go more, I was just thinking about the things you were saying about your brother. And it sounds like he would volunteer... he had a very valuable skill -- his, his electrical knowledge. By doing so, did he get, was he able to, you know, get special favors from the administration, things. Or did he get more influence as to how things were done because of things like that?

HM: No, no. One of the reasons why he volunteered for the advance crew was he thought that he would be able to put our family in a better physical location, rather than what we were faced with in Puyallup, and that was one of his reasons. But that was beyond his control and they put us in Block 19 which was a perimeter block outside of the main area so most of the people that we knew lived in Blocks 6, 7, 8 and 12, somewhere around there. And we were right on the fringe of this area, and most of the people that were in Block 19 were people from Puyallup, Sumner, Fife, somewhere in that area.

TI: In that, in that, and by doing so. Was this sort of a continuation. Earlier you mentioned how because of your father's sort of prominence in the community they tried to isolate him, and his family.

HM: This was a practice of the WCCA and the WRA both. They were trying to place people in areas that they were not familiar with, and so that they would not be able to organize. This was a common practice that the WRA followed.

TI: Mhmm. And so in this case it was probably a similar thing that that's why they put in Block 19 out on the perimeter.

HM: Yeah, unfortunately. It was not the block that I wanted to live in, frankly.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: So why don't you go on and, and tell me, as a twelve year old boy you're, you're going Minidoka. It's still in the summer at this point.

HM: Yeah. We're now in September now.

TI: Okay, so school is almost starting.

HM: Yeah. School's... they have to start school because they have to have so many days in the calendar year for them to be accredited. Some, some requirement that the government was trying to make some kind of adjustment to.

TI: Well now tell me about that because I imagine it's pretty chaotic given that a lot of facilities haven't been completed yet. This is going to be the first year. There are lots of children. Why, why don't you talk about that first year in school.

HM: Well they elected to use Block 21 which was the regular barrack area, for the school, high school. And we became a part of the WRA system which was part of the Department of the Interior. And consequently the Department of Interior ground rules for school systems were being used. And the largest part of the education process for the Department of the Interior at that time was the Bureau of Indian Affairs which was a sub-agency of the Department of Interior. So consequently the Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs criteria was the starting point for the high school. And they brought in a lot of teachers from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They also recruited a lot of the Nisei personnel that had teaching certificates and teaching capabilities. And a lot of them were very talented, but they were working for $16 or $19 a month. Whereas the Bureau of Indian Affairs personnel were getting $150 and up per month. So there was a huge disparity in salary. But the range of the teaching talent ranged from very mediocre -- these people were so used to teaching Bureau of Indian Affairs children that they had no challenge to their educational process -- and those that had other objectives, like the teacher I was fortunate to have in my freshman year. She was a wife of a mining engineer, and he happened to be a pilot and he became a marine fighter pilot and he was flying F-4U's during the war. But she felt that there was some kind of injustice being done to these people and she was trying to do her part to help the people that were in the camp. She had very honorable intentions and she had, she had every intent that she would try to rectify some of the wrongs that were being done to us.

TI: And so she volunteered through the Bureau of Indian Affairs to teach at, in the camp specifically?

HM: Yes. And it was her mission. And since her husband was in the Marines at that time she felt that she would occupy her time by being, doing something positive for her own career as well as the people in the camp.

TI: I'm trying to understand why this woman would want to do this, whether or not she had some exposure to Japanese Americans prior to the war and that's why she wanted to do this or...

HM: No, she read about what had happened to us. And she followed up by contacting the Department of the Interior. And they said that there were teaching professions available in Minidoka. And her husband had her, the most recent assignment in Idaho as a mining engineer.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Well tell me more about her and why you thought she was a good teacher.

HM: Well, she was very dedicated. She was a very talented teacher, very intelligent. And she knew the situation quite well within the camp and she had sized up what was going on. And she knew we were very low in our morale in terms of the school spirit, and our willingness to set aside all these problems and try to become good students. So she made some very interesting challenges for us. And she kept on saying, "This is a temporary-type situation. In a couple of years we're going to be out of this camp and you're gonna have to go back to your regular educational routine so you have to keep up with your work." And she was very emphatic about the thing. And she encouraged us to do all the things that would enable us to become good students and become college material if we went through the process. So she was driven by other than just normal teaching objectives. She was driven to help us try to get to the next level of our education process.

And one of the things that she had as a project, was to try to create kind of a... open future environment. So that we could look at our situation in camp as a temporary function, and say what would we like to do as a future career function and profession. And her mindset was kind of different from my parents or anybody else that I knew. And she said that, "You have to make this opportunity for yourself and create an opportunity," and, "This is just something that's going to be a couple of years and if you get past this, you're going to be able to make it to the next level." And so she had in this project, "What university would you like to attend?" Kind of an interesting project. And she had gathered a huge assembly of college catalogs, and she had available on her desk all these things and she had a supplementary bookcase and she had all these catalogs in there and you could look through all these things. And things that she had were things like University of Miami -- and I'd never heard of University of Miami. She had Harvard, she had all these different schools. And she says, "Well these are the things that they're offering and you guys should make yourself available to these things because some of you might make it to these different levels." And she was a different type of instructor.

TI: Well what was the reaction of, of the administration and other teachers towards her doing this?

HM: Well they thought that was great. Because here's a person that's going out of her way to try to help the kids.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

HM: And in fact she was so enthusiastic about some of these things that she found out about Gordon Hirabayashi being released from this honor camp in Arizona. And this is the camp that he was detained in for the curfew violation in Seattle and the evacuation, test of the evacuation law. And she found out that he was on his way back to Minidoka in September as a temporary stay. So she introduced me as -- I was an officer in the class - and she asked me to see if I could arrange that Gordon visit the class and tell us about his experience.

TI: He's at this point, Gordon had already had his trial and...

HM: Yes. He had been incarcerated and his incarceration process was completed and he was on his way back. And I don't know how she found out about this, but anyway, she knew where he was going to stay. So I went up there. And he wasn't home at the time I went up there. So I left a note for him asking him to contact Marjorie Pollock, the teacher, and we would like to have him make a presentation at our class. Well the other classes found out that we were gonna have him there so they had a joint, we had three classes joined together, and he was gracious enough to come and talk to us. And it was supposed to be 1 hour, but he ended up about 2 1/2 hours I believe.

TI: What was the reaction of your classmates to Gordon's topic?

HM: Well first of all they don't know anything about him. They didn't know what he was doing or what he was trying to do. And it was a brand new experience for these people to have somebody that was gonna become a legend in American constitutional history be, give us a lecture. And they were very impressed with his presentation. I was too. I was very impressed with Gordon.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: What was the reaction of, of others? I mean others meaning the administration and other people in camp. I guess especially adults because I imagine that this might have been a little controversial.

HM: Well I, I didn't realize at that time that, that Gordon was not well thought of, in terms of the JACL. And in fact the JACL made a strong effort to keep any donations from, donations and collections generated for Gordon's behalf. And in fact they, they made a point to say that nobody should donate monies to Gordon's cause. Well unbeknownst to some of the teachers, well we started a collection fund for him. And then I had a...

TI: This was your, your 7th grade class. Or not 7th grade, but your 9th grade, your 9th grade?

HM: No, this was a jun... or, the freshman class.

TI: Your freshman class.

HM: None of us had very much money to begin with, so that was a problem. But I had a visit from one of the people and I don't, I don't even remember who he was now. And he says, "I understand you people had Gordon Hirabayashi as a lecturer for your class." So I said, "Yeah." And, "Were you the one that were, was instrumental in getting him invited?" And I said, "I guess so." And he said, "Well we don't want you to collect any money for him or we don't want you to make any effort to help his effort." And he introduced himself and he said he was one of the members of the Japanese American Citizens League. And I thought to myself, "This guy's trying to do a good cause for Japanese Americans in general and why is this guy telling me I shouldn't do anything for him?" I was confused at that point.

So the following school day... that happened on a Saturday I believe. The following school day I went to Mrs. Pollock and I said, "You know, I had a visit from this person and they don't want us to collect the money. So I think we better think about what we're doing, and figure out which way we should go." And she said, "Well I'm not familiar with this kind of opposition." And she was really appalled. She was taken aback and she didn't know what to think. But the, the faculty members in the freshman class, Mr. Coombs as well as Mrs. Pollock, and there was one other instructor, felt that Gordon's message was very, very important message and that we should try to document it or at least make a record of it. So he had his core class -- which is English and Literature and some of this other stuff that comprises Language Arts -- they wrote a kind of summary of what they heard from Gordon. And he was trying to get it published in the camp paper but they wouldn't publish any of it. [Chuckles] So at that time I was kind of confused. Here's a guy that's trying to test the constitutionality of what happened and I get visits from people that say you shouldn't be doing this, and we can't even get our articles published in the camp newspaper. I was kind of confused at that point.

TI: So the freshman teachers were, were supportive of getting this, this article in the I believe it's the, the Minidoka Irrigator.

HM: Yes, yes.

TI: Who, who opposed it?

HM: I don't know.

TI: Was it, was it the administration or is it the, the...

HM: It just wasn't published. None of the summaries were published and in fact there was a couple of them that were very good. They were very well written. I forgot who they were, but they were very well written summaries of Gordon's presentation.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: Can you recall some of the things Gordon talked about during this?

HM: Gordon talked about the time... well, he was a student at the University of Washington. He was a sociology major. And he decided, why should he have to worry about the curfew when everybody else was going around. So he decided to violate the curfew. And he was a Quaker. He was brought up in a kind of, a little bit... I got to know the parents quite well later on and his siblings. But that was after the war. At that time I guess they had come from a much more progressive family than most Nikkei families were at that time. And he felt that there was the Constitution of the United States and that he should be awarded the same kind of liberties that the Constitution guaranteed. And he was talking about the difficulty they had, getting legal counsel and the fact that the people that agreed to be his legal counsel were pressured by the Bar Association to quit their jobs, so consequently they went from one to the next. And the fact that they had this trial. First of all, he was in the King County jail and he talked about that experience. And he had some very interesting inmates along with himself in the cell. He talked about those people, talked about the trial itself and the fact that the trial had a concurrent sentencing function. And this meant that they were trying him concurrently for the two violations. One was a curfew violation and secondly was the failure to respond to the evacuation order. These were two different items. And they judged him -- because of the concurrency function that they agreed to -- they were judged in violation of the curfew law. That constitutionally of the evacuation was not tested in this case, unfortunately. But this became apparent later on when they were starting to get into this thing very seriously. But that was the violation that he was charged with and he served this sentence. And in fact in order to get the honor camp in Arizona he had to hitchhike there with his own funds and own expense to get to the honor camp.

TI: So to essentially go to prison he had to hitchhike to get to, to Arizona?

HM: There's a kind of interesting, ironic...

TI: Well and then my, I'm trying to understand in his, his stay at Minidoka at that point, was that a hiatus from... didn't he then go on to prison later on or was he...

HM: Yes, he was the conscious objector later on, and he would not serve in the army and therefore he served time in another federal prison.

TI: Probably at that point, McNeil Island.

HM: Yes, I think.

TI: Going back when, when. From your perspective, how did others treat Gordon while he was in camp?

HM: I think they treated him, well, it was kind of, it was kind of an interesting treatment. I think a lot of people wanted to support him, but then there was this drive by the JACL to have no support given to him. So it was kind of a bivalent-type situation. I guess it was kind of controversial on the part of the JACL to take their position. But at that point they were not supporting Min Yasui or Gordon. And their, their position was not to support them, not to provide any funds. In fact they scrutinized these people's activities. And they didn't feel they were comfortable in their positions.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Well going back to your freshman class, I think there were three freshman classes that came together to listen to Gordon. Can you recall how Gordon's talk influenced members of that class, later on in their high school curriculum? Did, did, I guess, did that freshman class sort of stand out because of, of some of the things that perhaps Gordon said, and influenced the people in that class?

HM: Well, I guess it had some effect because a number of us got expelled as a function of our activities later on. It was not during that year, it mainly occurred in 1944-1945, when some of our activities were not held in high respect by some of the faculty advisors. And I had my run in with one of the teachers. But I think it was a consequence of a number of things that occurred. And in my case I, I had the unfortunate or fortunate happenstance of being in the, one of the school members that was supposed to meet the Truman un-American activities investigation team that was making a tour of different camps. They were supposed to come to Minidoka and they appointed one member from each of the classes, the freshman, sophomore and senior and junior year classes to represent the high school, and we were supposed to greet these people at the guard gate of the Minidoka camp entry area. And anyway, we stood there for about two and a half hours standing in the rain and these guys never showed up.

TI: And what was told to you as to the purpose of this group? And you at this point when you were waiting at the entrance way, what, what were you thinking and what were your thoughts as to the purpose of this group in coming to Minidoka?

HM: Well, there were some allegations made in Congress about the fact that we were being coddled. The word, "coddled" sticks in my mind... that Japanese Americans were treated with more generosity than they should receive. And so Harry Truman was a senator from Missouri at that time and he was, he was supported by the Pendergrass political machine in Missouri. He was a former haberdasher that went bankrupt. And anyway, prior to that there was another un-American activities committee. Martin Dies used to run that committee in Congress and Truman was the heir of that activity. And they were, they considered some of the things that the Japanese Americans might have done as, as a function of their un-American activities interest area. And because of this coddling allegation that was made in Congress, they decided to tour the different camps to see what the camp life was really about. And so they had the team of people from this committee go around to these different camps. And Minidoka was one of the five camps they visited. And our job in the student committee was to greet them and give them a tour of the school facilities, and that was our intent. But we never saw them. They never stepped inside of the camp itself. They were in the administrative area, we later found out. And when they wrote the report, which was kind of the thing that Mrs. Pollock encouraged me to do, I tried to get the congressional record of the report they generated for Congress and I could not believe what they wrote in the damn thing.

TI: What did they write?

HM: They wrote that they were served with silverware, with linen on the table, the dinner, dining table. They were served with waitresses and they were served extremely well prepared, and what did they call it, edible food. Now they were served in the administrative area. There was an area outside of the camp area, adjacent to the camp where they had the administrative personnel housed. And at that dining area they did have tablecloths, and they did have all these things that they commented about. But they never stepped inside the camp that I know of. I never saw them come into the camp and we were the greeting group waiting for them to come inside the camp.

TI: But the perception in the report was that this was how they, the, the people who were in the camps were being treated.

HM: Yes. Yes.

TI: That they had all these amenities.

HM: That was their official record.

TI: Interesting.

HM: And this started the whole procedure, and my mindset to become a little bit more cynical about what was published in the news media versus what was really happening.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: You mentioned...

HM: You know, I... this was a different sidelight, but the reason why I was up to date on some of these news items was the fact that we used to, by subterfuge we used to distribute the Salt Lake City's Tribune. Everyday we would have a drop of the Salt Lake City Tribune, the morning edition, come to the drop off point in the camp. And I would run down to that area and we would pick it up and during the noon hour I would distribute the Salt Lake City Tribune newspaper to these various people that were subscribing. So I used to keep one copy for myself and I used to read what was going on in the newspaper. So I was pretty well tuned to what was in the news media at that time. So, that was my pin money. I was making more money than the people doing the regular common labor in the camp, but that was my part-time activity that I was engaged in.

TI: Well when you say subterfuge because it was not allowed to have outside newspapers come into the camp or?

HM: Well, that was not normal. But these people that were subscribing needed the newspaper because they were, wanted knowledge about what was happening in the stock market. And I'm sure a lot of them were still interested in their portfolio management and they were interested in what was happening in the stock market and what their stocks were doing and things of this nature. And they were probably interested in what was happening in the world.

TI: I mean how did the newspaper show up at this, this central location where you picked up. Was it a, why don't you explain that, I'm curious.

HM: Well somebody must have been getting a few dollars under the table. But it was done in a very efficient manner and nobody complained about it, and everybody was happy with the service. We were making a few dollars and I was getting the newspaper for free and so. And my neighbors used to wonder where in the heck I was getting the newspapers. But that was, that was a different situation.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: I wanted to go back and ask. You mentioned how Mrs. Pollock encouraged you to not only do research but to specifically find out what the Truman committee had said about their, their, their visit to the camp. I was curious what her reaction was when she found out what they had written.

HM: Well the librarian at the school, high school library was very cooperative with me because, you know, here's a crazy young kid that is trying to research some of this material and asking for copies of the Congressional Record and all this kind of stuff. And I would take the, I think it was ten cents for the Congressional Record, for a copy at that time. And I would pay for the... before we would ask for the copies I would make sure that these areas were covered under the certain dates of the Congressional Record. And after I received them and she, she was kind enough to process the thing for me. So I would bring my ten cents per copy request to her and she would pay the postage and rest of the stuff and they would get the copies. They would read it themselves and then, then pass it on to me and I would pass it on to Mrs. Pollock. And Mrs. Pollock was kind of interested in it because she wanted to find out what the single thread process of the things we were doing, came up in the Congressional Record. And she, she was kind of appalled at what they were saying. And she says, "Well they're describing the administrative dining room," she says to me. So that's when I got the true revelation of what had transpired. I don't think those members of that investigation team ever came into the camp. If they did, they might had gone to the administrative area only.

TI: I'm curious. The, the research you did in this case. Was that ever publicized to the rest of the members or people inside the camp? Did it like come out in the Irrigator or places like that?

HM: No, I don't think so. Nothing came about of that, after that.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: So Henry, let's get started again. And let's talk about your involvement in the student council while you're in high school. Why don't you to talk a little bit about that.

HM: Well the way that they tried to run the student government in the Hunt High School was that each class had a representative in the student council. And the student council approved the different regulations they were trying to impose on us. So the freshman year was kind of a, they're just trying to get organized. They're trying to figure out how the school should be run and what kind of student government they should have, if they should have class officers and things of this nature. So it was a kind of a formulating type period. So we we're trying to just make things work. And, and I was a very naive type student at that point, and went along with most of the different things that the student council advisors used to lay down to us. And the, this, the freshman year was kind of an evolutionary time period because we had a lot of Nikkei instructors and we had a lot of... we had about half and half, I guess, Caucasian instructors.

And unfortunately like in the science classes, chemistry classes, there was practically no equipment or hardware so everything was by the book. And if you were talking about chemistry, they had some textbooks there. And it was by mostly lectures and test functions that they were trying to achieve some kind of scholastic record. So like in the physics area or the chemistry area they had very little equipment to do any of the experiments. So freshman year to me was kind of a... interesting... I guess trying to get ourselves transitioned into a real education process. And some of the teachers were... the Nikkei teachers at that point probably were trying to get a different placement outside the camp so their interest levels were trying to advance their careers. And I think the encouragement was made by the Caucasian teachers for these Nikkei teachers to relocate. Anyway the student council was kind of a rubber stamp function for the faculty advisor group. And as it evolved they started putting in regulations like, "You could not speak Japanese in the school campus." And if you did, the first infraction is that they'll give you a warning. The second infraction was that they would give you a three-day suspension. And the third time you would have to go to the principal. And he would do whatever was necessary. And usually it was a suspension, extended suspension, or you know, things like a written note to your parents and notification that unless you stopped and desisted from doing it you were going to be expelled from school.

TI: And what were the reasons for not using Japanese on the school campus?

HM: Well they felt that the... the whole thing about Japanese culture was being subverted by the government. Anything that happened to do with Japanese things was un-American. And this kind of feeling was trying to be forced down our throat even through the school system. So it was just an evolution of what the WRA had tried to do. Unfortunately, because they had in the larger sense -- in the camp management because there were a lot of Isseis that were in positions of responsibility and authority -- when they had the meetings they had to make a lot of these meetings bilingual. Some of it was in Japanese and some of it was in English. But in the high school sense, they were trying to remove any trace or ability to go between Japanese and the, the English part of it. They just wanted to make it completely English.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: What other rules that were instituted or...

HM: Well they had, because the faculty was so variable, shall we say, and a lot of the teachers were so unchallenged [Chuckles] because of their previous background with the BIA, they weren't very competent teachers, especially the Caucasian ones. So in my case, I refused to go to some of those classes because it was just a waste of time and I wouldn't learn anything. If I had the text book I would learn just as much from the text book as if I went to the class. So I decided I'm gonna skip it. And this was a prevalent practice for a lot of students. And so they said if you have unexcused absences then you have to get these, the remedial types of treatment. So if you had three unexcused absences then you would get a notice of suspension and that would be a three-day suspension. And if you got nine days, it was triple that time period, then you got a longer suspension. And if you had a longer one than that then they would give you a termination from the school. And they started putting all these rules because they were having a hard time enforcing attendance at these schools and a lot of us were goofing around and doing other things. And the school was trying to get things back into the disciplinary structure. And my sophomore year I started skipping classes and we used to hang around out in different areas. And we felt we were able to make better use of our time than attending some of the classes. And unfortunately during that time period because they're going through a huge change over of school personnel, a lot of the classes that we would have liked to have taken didn't have the staff to support it. So we were assigned classes, and in my case I was assigned a Spanish class and that was the last thing I wanted to learn, so I invariably skipped those classes. And so here's a ruling that they're trying to lay down, and this was in the sophomore year process and I said, because of my own bias towards not attending the class, I started opposing this thing. I says, "You have no right to force people to attend classes that they didn't even want to take." And that was my position. And I had a couple of guys supporting me, but we lost. And they pushed the issue through anyway.

TI: And you lost because the other students opposed your, they wanted to go along with, with the school administration.

HM: Yeah, they were compliant with, with their request. So, I thought, well, these guys can't even think for themselves. And in my case because I didn't want to attend the Spanish class, that was part of my viewpoint. But then I didn't feel that the school should impose that kind of ruling on us when they can't even give us the curriculum that we wanted. And that was my position that I took. So I started changing about at that time. And the teacher that was the faculty advisor was Helen Amerman and she was a very dedicated Caucasian teacher, a very good teacher by the way.

TI: And so as you started opposing the school administration, was the reaction toward you different? I mean did they, did things become more difficult for you as, as you started doing things like this?

HM: Well the individuals that helped support me in that area, in fact they were pretty outspoken too. Well later, we became the targets of the faculty trying to pinpoint us as troublemakers and radicals, you know, these guys were different. But I think we were evolving at that time. We were going through a kind of a maturing process. And I think a lot of things that we, we had accepted early on in the assembly center and the beginning year of the camp in Minidoka, I think these things started to wear off and we became more realistic. But we became the targets of the faculty. And later on I had a situation was Miss Amerman that wasn't too comfortable for me and it was a very marked point in my departure of my education process.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Well let's, let's talk about that now. So later on Mrs. Amerman was your, was the advisor and later on she became one of your teachers and why don't we talk about, about that course.

HM: Well, I... Helen Amerman was a very well educated, very intelligent, typical Caucasian woman. Quite attractive. And she had the feeling that her mission was kind of different from Mrs. Pollock. Ms. Amerman felt her mission was to teach us American Democratic practices right down the line, even though we were inside the camp. And she happened to be my physics, ah... civics teacher. And she did a good job of teaching us, you know, the Constitution of the United States and how the government works and all this kind of stuff. In fact, she did such a good job that I took it upon myself to really read the Constitution. Because here was something that Gordon Hirabayashi had tried to exercise in 1942 and he went to jail for it, and he makes a presentation to us in the freshman class. And here I'm reading this thing in the actual verse and trying to interpret it. And I say to myself, "Well you know, this is the, they have a Bill of Rights, they have all these guarantees." And as a result of this kind of indoctrination -- which I got from Ms. Amerman -- I turned around and in my term paper I used all that process that I had been exposed to. And my term paper was "American Democracy and What It Means to Me." And it was a collection of all my frustrations about being in the camp, and all the things that really caused me concern about what was happening to us. And it was thirteen pages of stuff that I wrote. [Laughs] And you know, it referred to the screwball things that the Truman investigating committee did to us and their reports and everything about the, the treatment of blacks in the South, and I wrote down all my frustrations in there. And Miss Amerman called me one day after class and said she can't accept this paper.

TI: And, and before you turned it in, after you had written it, did you feel that it was going to cause problems or do you think it...

HM: No, I didn't think so. I thought for one thing it was a little bit too long. But then on the other hand I thought I got rid of all my frustrations in the paper, so I was kind of happy with it, frankly.

TI: Okay. So tell me more about Mrs., Mrs. Amerman's reaction.

HM: Oh, Miss Amerman.

TI: Miss Amerman.

HM: She said that you know, "We've taught you the civics in this class and I was expecting a paper that would, say, you know, that you empathized with the way that the class was taught and the principles that we were given. And I thought you would give me a paper that would be something that would reflect that. And here you're trying to completely upturn this whole thing that we're trying to educate you on." And she says, "I'm very disappointed in you." So odd, this was a kind of change I thought gee, she'd be happier than heck to see it. And so I said, "Well I don't think I did anything wrong. I think I was within the context of what you asked for in the term paper." And she says, "Well unless you rewrite it. I'm not going to accept it." And at that time -- going back to the school regulation -- if you had one F, you got all F's. So she said, "You know what's going to happen. If you can't, if I don't accept your term paper and I give you an F for incompletion and unsatisfactory work, that means that you're going to get all your junior year for this semester is going to be all F's. And you're not going to graduate." I had enough credits to graduate at that point. And she says, "You know, I've been watching you all the three years that we've been in the student council and you've been... I've seen you change from a very good student to which I consider not a good student" -- in her definition. And she tried to give me counsel. She was very... she was doing it for my own good. And I was, at that point, I thought to myself, "I've been suckered into the student council and did all this stuff and I'm not gonna take it anymore." I guess that was in the back of my mind too. So -- no, this is my paper, that's it. And she says, "You know, you're gonna have to think it over because this is a very important decision you have to make." And she'd read it all. But I decided I'm not gonna rewrite it. [Laughs]

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: After the teacher said that she wasn't going to accept it and you had to think about it. What did your friends say, or did you ask your friends what you should do or...?

HM: No, I, I was kind of independent by that point. I had my own activities and I was doing a lot of things by myself by that time period. And I used to make a lot of things like model airplanes. My brother was kind enough to bring in a lot of things from his job. He had a job in Jerome, Idaho.

TI: Well before we get to that, let's finish up with, with this incident and then we'll, we'll move on to that. But, so at that point when she told you to think about this, what did you ultimately do? What was your decision in terms of the paper?

HM: Well my brother happened to come back to camp during that weekend I think. And so I told him, "I wrote this paper and the teacher don't, doesn't want to accept it. What do you think I should do?" And he said, "You do, you do whatever you feel like doing."

TI: And he understood the implications that if you didn't...

HM: Well I told him what the paper was about and that I had a carbon rough draft of the earlier version I wrote. I wrote it three times really. And so I showed him the earlier version of it and he said, "Well, I can't disagree with you but I'm not telling you what to do, because you're on your own. You're old enough to think for yourself." And so, I decided I wasn't going to redo it.

TI: And so what, what was the reaction from the teacher?

HM: So I waited 'til Tuesday. I went back to class Monday, and Tuesday I went back there and told her, "No, I'm not going to rewrite it." I said that, "The Constitution of the United States has one of the precepts of the, freedom of the press. And that's one of the things that's in the four freedoms that Roosevelt is talking about that, that's why we're fighting World War II." All this kind of crap. What a bunch of dialogue that was. And she said, "I'm sorry to hear that. I'm going to have to take steps with the principal."

So Mr. Light, who was the principal, called me into his office. And I had been a guest of Mr. Light's, his generosity and his hospitality, because Thomas Light was in my soph, ah, freshman and sophomore years in my class. Same age I, well he was, same class group but he was maybe two years older than I was. And he was the son of the principal and they had to educate him so they put him into the school system just like we were in, except he was in the administrative area and we were in the... people inside the camp. And I got to know Thomas very well. He's a very intelligent guy. And as I got to know him, we became very good friends. And in the course of events he said after he found out from his father that I'm being brought to the office for this kind of action and they're gonna warn me that they're gonna lay down the, the law on this thing and they're gonna follow through. He begged me to recant the paper and write whatever Miss Amerman wanted. And he pleaded with me. He begged me. He says, "Hey, you're making a terrific error here. Why don't you just do it and just, then forget about it. And you can keep it in the back of your mind and you can keep the paper," and all this kind of stuff. And I said, "I don't want to do that Tom. It's just a matter of principle."

And Mr. Light knew me because I was his, his dinner guest a couple of times. And so when I had the confrontation with the principal (meant to say Miss Amerman) I told him, "This is what was taught in the class and this is what's in the Constitution of the United States, why shouldn't I be able to exercise it?" And he thought... you know, he kind of chuckled at that. And he said, "You know, they got the school rules and I have to follow the school rules. I'm just the implementer of this thing. And if you evade what the teacher's telling you is acceptable then I can't go, go along with you. You might be right in principle, but you're not right in terms of the school rules." So he just warned me. He said, "You better recant that paper. I suggest you do it. Because you're not a dumb person. You're quite intelligent, we think a great deal of you. You've been our, a guest of our family, we like you, we don't want anything to happen that's going to be bad for you." And he was very sympathetic, and I stood my ground. [Laughs] And unfortunately I got all F's and they summarily threw me out of school. [Laughs]

TI: Well what, what was the reaction of others when it happened, in particular your, your brother, your, your parents?

HM: First of all, the other students didn't know about it. They kept it very quiet. Thomas was the only student that knew about it. So I went to school anyway every day because I didn't want my parents... my parents didn't even know about it. They weren't even involved in the thing. They didn't send them any, there was no correspondence between the principal's office and my parents. Nothing, zilch.

TI: But that seems a little unusual. Something as dramatic as this that they didn't try to bring in parents to see if they could influence you through them.

HM: I don't think they would have done anything anyway. My parents were very liberal with me. They spoiled me. I was a spoiled kid really. I did whatever I wanted to do.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: Well, at this point what was your reaction, were you shocked that they actually did it?

HM: Yeah. I thought they would back off. [Laughs] I thought for sure they would back off because it was within the terms of what the term paper should be. It was relevant to everything that the Constitution stood for. All the arguments I had in there about the blacks' treatment in the South, and our treatment, and all this kind of stuff. It was very relevant. I, I had researched the material quite thoroughly. Unfortunately I didn't keep a copy of it. I wish I had because it, it was kind of an interesting paper.

TI: Well so after the, the initial shock wore off. What were you feeling, realizing that you were kicked out of school?

HM: Well I, I didn't want to go tell my parents. I told my brother that they kicked me out. He said, "What are you gonna do now?" So I said, "Well I'm gonna keep going to school. I'm going to keep attending classes."

TI: But, well, going back to not telling your parents. What was it because you were afraid of their reaction that they'd get mad at you or were you, what were you feeling about regarding your parents?

HM: At that point? I thought first of all they wouldn't understand. That was part of the problem. Secondly, you know, it's... we're in the camp anyway. And we, as a teenager in the camp we were kind of independent because we weren't dependent upon our parents for the meals and anything else. So we just went home to sleep and sometimes if they want to sleep at our place, well I'd sleep at somebody else's place. (Narrator note: misstated sentence) And so this, this feeling about the, the family as a group, kind of disintegrated in the camp. I was taking extreme liberties because of the things that were available in the camp. So it made me a little bit more independent than I would have been. And the fact that I was doing the Salt Lake City Tribune thing, I was making more money than the people that had normal jobs and it, made me kind of different. I, I, I felt different, I was more independent. I couldn't care less. And I didn't feel that it was necessary for me to tell my parents. And I thought they wouldn't understand, and they wouldn't approve of it anyway. [Laughs] So I didn't tell them.

TI: So after this happened, you said that you, in the morning, would still wake up and pretend to go to school, what...

HM: Yeah, I did go to school. Physically I was in school. I had a... I took carpentry my sophomore year. It was a woodworking and carpentry class combined. And the guy's name was Kutkowski and he was a Polish-German guy. And anyway I... they were building this gym, the school gym. Now this, this is about the third year of the high school and about the time they build a gym because they didn't have a gym until that time, they were building the thing. And I went to Kutkowski and I said... and Richard, the son was also in the same class. In fact when we started the sophomore year, Richard was one of the members of my core class. Thomas Light and Richard Kutkowski and myself were in the same class. So I got to know Richard quite well and that was the same time I was taking carpentry from his dad. So Mr. Kutkowski knew me quite well. In fact one time he said to me, "I don't know if it's better for you guys to be in this kind of camp or take the kind of treatment that we got when, in World War I." And so I asked him, "Well what happened in World War I?" He said, "Well every day we used to have a fight after school. Because these kids would beat up on us because we were Polish German. And in one time period" -- I think the battle of the Marne, or whatever. one of the big battles in World War I -- "the neighborhood came on a Sunday and they swarmed the house and they painted the house yellow and purple," he said. And he said, "My dad couldn't get a job. We were literally living on potatoes and bread and stuff like that." He said it was a rough time, he said.

TI: Was he an individual that also, like Mrs. Pollock volunteered to come into the camps?

HM: Yes. Yes.

TI: And so he, he was very sympathetic to what was going on.

HM: And the fact that he had a kid the same age that was attending high school. And Richard was a very nice person. And anyway, so I went to Kutkowski and I said, "I'll help you build your gym. I'll learn something. And if it gets too cold I'll go into the library and study." And he says, "I don't know if I should do this. This is against the school regulations to have you on the campus when you've been expelled." So I says, "Why don't you look the other way." So anyway that's what we did. That was the arrangement we had. [Laughs]

TI: Well during this period did you ever run into the principal or...

HM: Oh yeah. [Laughs]

TI: And what was the, what was their reactions when they saw you?

HM: Mr. Light he said well, he asked me how I was doing, what am I doing during the regular school time and all this kind of stuff. And I said, "I'm studying on my own." He said, "Oh, that's good, that's good," he says.

TI: What was he thinking, that you would during your senior year come back to school and finish up? Was that his thought?

HM: Well maybe that's what he thought. Maybe just one semester in abeyance and I would come back and reapply, that's what he felt I guess.

TI: How about Miss Amerman, did you ever come across her during this period?

HM: Well, in fact the last interview I had with her, or last conversation I had with her, I told her she was making a big mistake. And she told me I was making a big mistake, and we both agreed to that, I guess on our own personal viewpoints. But we didn't go back and try to rectify the process. That was it. So anyway, the school librarian got to know me very well at that point. Because it, when it was too cold I didn't want to work out on the gym project so I would take haven in the warm library. And I was studying all the things that I wanted to study. And I was waiting for the time when they were going to release us from camp. And that was in the spring of 1945. And the war was still going on at that point. But because of the Endo case, Endo versus United States, they had to let us go. December '44 after the election process was finished and Roosevelt got reelected, they decided to do the writ of habeas corpus for Mitsue Endo. This was filed in 1942, by the way, and the Supreme Court didn't work on it 'til December of 1944, and they said that (they) had no right to keep these people in the camp. So we were waiting for the release orders and then I was waiting for my 16th birthday so that I could get out of the camp. Because they wouldn't let individuals less than sixteen go out on their own. So, that was what I was waiting for.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: One question that comes to mind in, given that you had your high school experience from your freshman, sophomore and junior year... I just wanted to get a sense of the quality of education in the camps for high school. You've talked about certain teachers, some good, some really poor. But overall, what was your sense of the education in camp at the high school level?

HM: I think we were... we had some very good teachers that were very highly motivated teachers. On the other hand, we had some teachers that didn't create enough of a challenge for us. And I... I guess I would have preferred going to a conventional high school. The curriculum was more versatile for a lot of us -- flexible. The facilities would have been a lot better. There's a lot of things that I would have preferred rather than having to go to the high school in the camp.

TI: Well going back to what Mrs. Pollock said your freshman year trying to get people thinking about the future in terms of college and other things. Do you think the experience in the high school in camp, you know, overall for students, was that a good preparation for college?

HM: Well there was an overwhelming cloud over us. One was, well, if we graduated from high school let's say in... you had the option of going into the army at that point, or you could try to pursue some kind of college career outside the camp. And the economic system wouldn't provide this capability. So the future was pretty bleak for kids in my age bracket. And this is what caused a lot of our behavior patterns to kind of change. We were very obedient kids at the time we started into the process, but come the third year, a lot of us were becoming quite antagonistic toward what was happening to us. And I think this caused the student behavior to not be as compliant as it was early on. The teachers were having a harder time with us.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: Okay, going back to your case, you had... if you had passed that final semester, you would have had enough credits to have graduated from high school. It was that point where you were, reaching the point of being sixteen so you could leave the camps. As well as they were planning to, to allow people to leave the camps and return to the West Coast at this point. So all these things were, were coming together. You didn't pass that final semester with, with the flunking of Miss...

HM: Amerman's...

TI: Miss Amerman's class. So I guess the question is, so what happened after, come spring? Did you leave camp or what happened?

HM: Okay. Well after I got my sixteen, sixteenth birthday then I decided I was going back to Seattle and try to get the one house that we had left, try to get that thing ready for my parents to come.

TI: At this point were you considering going back to school to finish your high school?

HM: No, that was the furthest from my mind. I was gonna go, go to work. Because my parents were pretty old at that point and it would have been pretty hard for my father to start working again. So my first objective was to find work and at least get my parents comfortable in the house.

TI: At this point, I mean in terms of your formal education. You, you're, you're a very bright individual.

HM: But that doesn't mean anything at that point. I used to see these top level graduates not being able to get a job like, Yamasaki who was that foremost architect and -- he used to live at Fir Apartments, it's a block away from us -- and he graduated very high in his honors, graduate, class at the University of Washington, but he couldn't get a job. A lot of these things that, that even though people were bright or had good records didn't mean a thing. So I, I was quite realistic at that point. And I figured well, Mr. Takeuchi who used to be one of our tenants in the one of the houses we used to have and he offered me a job in his gardening thing. And he had gone back to Seattle earlier and he had a gardening operation and he wanted me to help him. So I said, you know, I'll go to work for him. And he says, "Fine. You can cut lawns for me." So I was ready to go. And I did. In fact the second day after I got back to Seattle. Well, first day Mr. Takeuchi came around, and after work, and then he came around to see if, how I was doing. So he says, "Well, come on over for supper." and I ate supper at his place and he says, "Tomorrow morning let, you start. Get some grubby clothes on and you're gonna cut lawns." So, I just cut lawns. [Laughs]

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: So you started doing that but you, you mentioned that there was a, a house that your family controlled.

HM: Yes.

TI: That it was, was available for you when you went back.

HM: Yeah.

TI: Why don't you tell me a little bit about how, the condition.

HM: Okay, the WRA evicted the people that were in the house, and unfortunately when they evicted them they took the, well, the rest of the, what was left of the rest of the furniture. So it was kind of bare. The WRA official in Seattle had done all this work for us. And so when I came back, in fact he waited for us at the train station. He was there. And he introduced himself. And so he said, "Your house is now vacant and you should be able to get in through the back door. We've got the key underneath the doormat there, so you can get in the house. And there's some things left in there, but there's not very much furniture."

TI: Okay, explain the relationship of the WRA. Did they take care of the house for you while...

HM: No, they didn't take care of the house, but they were helping us move back to where we came from. And they did things like the eviction of former tenants and things of this nature. And they did some legal work also. They provided us legal referrals so that we could get some legal work done.

TI: Well who took care of the, the apartment or, I'm sorry, the house while you were in the camps? Was there someone there overseeing?

HM: Yeah, it was Henry Broderick Real Estate organization that, that took care of the, so-called, management. And the tenants they had in there had paid rent to the process and they managed the properties, paid the taxes, things of this nature.

TI: Now why didn't the real estate company do the eviction for you, versus the WRA?

HM: Well I think the WRA felt they had more weight and influence because they were a government agency.

TI: Okay. So the condition of the house, why don't you describe that, other than, it was bare, but other than that was it in pretty good shape?

HM: Well they had one bed left in there, and a beat up mattress and all. So I was able to sleep there and it wasn't too bad, compared to what was in the camp. I mean here all the facilities were there and you didn't have to go to the toilet half a mile away and all this kind of stuff. So everything was much more convenient.

TI: But prior to leaving Puyallup was the house furnished?

HM: Yeah, mhmm, we had quite a few things in there unfortunately. Some of these things were fairly interesting items. We had some chairs that were hand carved, things of this nature. Chinese motifs, that kind of stuff.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: Describe what Seattle, what it felt like coming back to Seattle as, at this point a sixteen year old? Did you come by yourself or were you with your parents?

HM: Yeah, yeah, I came by myself. Well I had some people that came with us because as a minor, they had to have somebody sign for us and my parents weren't ready to go. So I decided to go and try to get the house ready.

TI: So what was Seattle like for a sixteen year old at this point? Was...

HM: It was, I was glad to be out. [Laughs] I was happy to be. Of course we had gone out during different phases of the farm work. So I had exposure to places like Idaho Falls, Pocatello, places like Nampa, Idaho, Emmett, Idaho, Boise. I had gone to farm work in those areas. Also worked in Hazelton Idaho. So I had been out, but then going back to Seattle was like going back home. And the streets were dirtier of course, and it wasn't well kept up like it was before. But as people started coming back in the neighborhood, it started getting cleaned up and we started things coming back to normal again.

TI: Well who, who stayed in the neighborhood while most people were in the, in the camps?

HM: Well they had defense workers primarily. And let's see, we had oh, it was a Caucasian family that knew us from before the war that had rented our house. And unfortunately when their rental was terminated, I guess they felt ticked off and they took off with the furniture. And I didn't have the legal funds to go after them at that point. But I guess I, I would have if I had enough money to seek out an attorney to take action, but...

TI: Now why would they be upset to, to have to leave, given that you were coming back?

HM: Well, because they had cheap rent to begin with. And they had to go into a higher cost housing area. The fact that they had fairly short notice kind of ticked them off I guess.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: So, so tell me. You, so you were doing primarily gardening work coming back.

HM: Yeah.

TI: And what'd you, how long did you do that?

HM: Well. Oh, let's see. I did that for about a year and a half and then I got my own truck and then I was doing gardening on my own. And this one, one weekend there was a picnic at Lincoln Park. And I had a couple of buddies, Eddie Nagai and Sadamu Takashima. We were going to the picnic in Lincoln Park And I was driving my pickup through the Fauntleroy five, five points intersection there. And a City Light truck came through -- supposedly with their lights on, and they had red paint over their regular lights, auxiliary lights -- and he came through that signal stop and he hit us broad side. And anyway, luckily none of us were hurt. And I think Eddie had the serious, most serious one. He had a gash over his head, I think. But that put me out of business because it took my truck out of existence. And then the City put us under some legal suit and I had to go get an attorney at that point. And by the time I finished paying off the attorney and... it was one of these situations where the City said that we were at fault, and we said they were at fault because they had no audible siren and all this kind of stuff. Then they, then they said, the judge says both parties are at fault. So shared fault situation, so tough luck. So I lost the truck and all. And I, I didn't realize I had been injured a little bit and I started getting headaches and all this kind of stuff. And I decided I would take it easy for a while.

And this was 1947, I guess, and my brother came back from the army. And at that point I started trying to get my ham license. Then he, he tried to help me a little bit in that area, get the ham license. And then I got my federal communication commercial licenses for radiotelegraph, radiotelephone. And I had it figured, well next thing I'll do is probably go work for the merchant marine as a radio operator. That was my objective. That's the reason why I was getting the FCC licenses.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: Going back to your brother, when, what, what type of service did your brother have during the war with, what did he do?

HM: Well he was in Counter Intelligence Corps, and that later became a part of the reason why I got into Counter Intelligence Corps, because of my brother's reputation and his experience that caused the review officer that I had, to accept me into the CIC.

TI: So when you say counterintelligence, is that the same as Military Intelligence Service, the MIS? Or is this different?

HM: No, it's a little bit different. You're going after... military intelligence is to gather information and analyze it and so forth. Counter Intelligence is to go catch, catch guys...

TI: Okay.

HM: ...that are doing intelligence work.

TI: And where, where did he serve, was it in the Pacific?

HM: Yeah. And he ended up in the 441st in Tokyo in, MacArthur's (GHQ) area. And he served in the war crimes commission trials. But his Japanese was not so great, and he had no legal background so they... he started off in Hideki Tojo's defense team and because his Japanese wasn't good enough, his legal expertise was zilch, they kept on bouncing him down. And they used to try to, in those war crime trials I guess they used to try to get the prosecution that has the best background and the best linguistic capabilities. And the guys that are not so good, they put on the defense side. So he ended up with a guy named General Nomura, and he was the guy that helped do the R and D for the balloon bombs that they sent up. And you know some of them landed in Oregon and on the West Coast of the United States. And some of them went up as high as Canada I guess. And ironically he... this guy happens to become a director for TDK, the magnetic tape outfit.

TI: Nomura did, the General?

HM: Yes.

TI: Okay.

HM: And he was an engineer by trade and he was, he was an electrical engineer and his specialty was magnetics. And therefore, after he got through with the military criminal type sentencing, he became part of TDK. And then TDK's board was part of the organization that happened to control part of this ultrasonic company that I finally ended up with in Tokyo. It's just a matter of just a rare coincidence. And this guy was a member of the board which helped negotiate the process with this company and X-Onics Corporation of San Diego. We did a technical tie up. But that was years to come, it was just by coincidence.

TI: Well what was his reaction when he found out who you were that his... your brother...

HM: Well, first of all, this was in 1961, when after the board meeting when we discussed this negotiation for a technical tie up. He asked me if I had a relative named George Kazuo. I says, "How'd you know that?" And he says, "Well he happened to be a member of my defense team." I guess my brother provided such poor defense for him that they had to settle for a two-year [Laughs] sentencing structure for him. You know, to be a R and D person for a weapons development process and be deemed a war criminal, that's pretty sad. But anyway that's what he ended up with.

TI: Well that's...

HM: Well he was very thankful that he only had to serve two years.

TI: That's an interesting story.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

HM: But I had a bunch of circumstances where my brother really laid down the ground work and provided the reputation that I took advantage of. And in most cases I was never able to live up to the level of expectation that my brother had generated. This was both in the CIC as well as later on.

TI: He must have been quite an individual.

HM: Well he, he, trained me very well.

TI: How did he change? When he came back in '47, back to Seattle. How did he change when you, when you started doing things with him again?

HM: Well he was looking out for a more permanent career. So he was looking for civil service as a main route. And at that point he had passed the... Well he had all the federal communication licenses that I was seeking at that point. And he told me, "Well, why don't you get a radiotelegraph, radiotelephone license and then you can work at a radio station or you can work at merchant marine as radio operator." So I thought that would be a good route to go. Well I got those licenses, but the American Communications Association wouldn't allow, wouldn't allow me to go into the union. First of all I was not a veteran, and I was under 21 years of age. So that, they would restrict me from running a radio station unless I was under the station manager. And there were a number of things that interfered with my being able to go into the merchant marine. And in fact, the fact that we were Japanese Americans, that kind of eliminated a number of jobs. So at that point after I got those federal communication ham license and all this kind of stuff, I decided well, and my brother suggestion he says, "Well, why don't you take the civil service exam for FAA." At that time it was called Civil Aeronautics Administration, but it's FAA now. And so anyway, he told me what to study. He says, "Here's the things that they're looking for. Here is the systems that you need to know about." He gave me all the information that I needed, that would give me the opportunity to look at that civil service exam without much trouble. And I guess I scored fairly well because in 1948 after I went through this education process on my own and my brother's coaching I got, I passed the civil service test and they gave me a title IX job in Alaska.

TI: And so from there you went up to Alaska to...

FM: Well my brother came down from Alaska.

TI: Oh, I see.

FM: He was with the FAA at that time. And then we drove our vehicle up the Alcan Highway, which was kind of a rough trip. This is 1948 so the roads were really in bad shape, 2,600 miles on gravel road.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

TI: Before you go there. I'm curious just thinking about coming back from camp and the community. I guess one question is, what was the reaction of the general population to Japanese Americans coming back to Seattle?

FM: It was kind of unfriendly. But that wasn't my concern at that point. My concern was trying to make some money to get my parents back. And I recall two things that were kind of interesting. One was a time when Germany surrendered. I was cutting the guy's lawn there and the guy comes out, the lady of the house came out and says, "They've, the Germans have surrendered. There's no war in Europe now." She says, "It won't be long now, just a couple of weeks." And as it happened, when they dropped the atomic bomb I was cutting another person's back lawn. And on the day that Japan surrendered I was cutting John Nordstrom's back yard, lawn and they lived in Montlake there. And they had a house in the Montlake area and the house rises quite steeply from the ground level and they got a sleek, very bad sloping lawn there. And it had I think, rained the day before and I was having a heck of a time cutting this lawn because it was on a very steep slope, and you try to cut this on a lateral basis. And Mrs. Nordstrom came out. And she usually was generous enough to bring out some lemonade and stuff like that. She was a generous lady. And she came out and says, "Your worries are all over now." A big smile on her face. And she had this big ladle of lemonade and says, "Come on and drink this thing," she said, "The war's over." I remember that.

TI: What, when she said, what did she mean by, "Your worries are all over now?"

HM: Well, I guess she felt that the war had compounded a lot of our problems and all this kind of stuff and the fact that we were back there trying to get back to our normal way of life. She knew my parents were still in the camp and all that kind of stuff. And I guess she felt that that was a new episode and chapter and she was just trying to make me feel well, and feel good. And she was a nice lady. She, she always took it upon herself to do something gracious for me. Maybe she felt, I don't know, maybe I represent one of her sons I guess. But she was very kind to me.

TI: What about the Japanese Americans, when they returned. Was there a sense of sort of walking on eggshells to be very careful coming back? Or what was just the, the general feeling when you sort of went out into the general population, realizing you're Japanese?

HM: You know where to go eat and you know where to go because some places weren't very friendly to you. And so, all that data was transferred between individuals. And you knew what places we were invited in, and what places we were not happy to be accommodated. So there was a lot of, scrutiny as to what kinds of activities you can engage in, where you should patronize in terms of stores and things of this nature.

TI: How about perhaps overcompensating, trying to be more American or giving up some of your... Before the war there were probably some customs that were more Japanese than American. Did things like that change?

HM: Yeah, we tried to keep use of Nihongo at a minimum. Of course camp had accomplished most of that I think. We restrained from using Nihongo to any extent. So we were more Americanized at that point or trying to be more American I think than what we were before.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.