Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Henry Miyatake Interview VI
Narrator: Henry Miyatake
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: October 28, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-mhenry-06-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Let's move to the event itself. It was on November 25th, 1978. And can you describe the event?

HM: Well, there, big argument that we had was, I argued for February 19th, but Frank says, "We can't wait that long. There's a election coming on." And we got to bring this to the forefront. Just the subject itself, we got to bring this to the attention of the individuals.

TI: Plus there was the TV connection also...

HM: Yeah. Yeah.

TI: ...that sort of pushed it to November 25th.

HM: Yeah. The producer wanted it, she wanted it before the end of the year so they could put it on the programming, national programming, prior to the end of the year if they could possibly do so. Anyway, Mike Lowry was, said that he couldn't make that appointment because it conflicted with a commitment he had before. So the only thing he could do is go down to the gathering area, which was Sick's Seattle Stadium. That's where the hardware store is now on McClellan and Rainier. And that used to have a large parking lot there. And that's where our joining area was, where all the vehicles were to be assembled. And Ben Nakagawa did a tremendous job of getting the National Guard to cooperate with us, and get the Washington State Patrol to make sure that the freeways way was gonna be left open for us. And they're gonna make a guarded route of vehicles going down on the caravan all the way down to the Puyallup fairgrounds. So it was a kind of an interesting effort. We had all the, it was about thirty-one organizations in the Seattle Puget Sound area that committed to be sponsors of the event. And when they started coming in, it was very slow at the beginning. And we were very worried about how many people were gonna be sponsors. But when it came to the, when everybody started doing it, it became a avalanche. And then a lot of people started signing up for it. I was convinced that we're gonna have over 1,000, and I don't know about the other guys. [Laughs] They thought maybe we're gonna get 150. But, anyway we went down to Sick's Seattle Stadium and saw all the people there, and the sign-up sheets were all gone because they all filled up. I figured, well, we're gonna get a lot of people here.

And I ran into Ben (Tong) at that point. Ben (Tong) is a, he used to teach at University of San Francisco. He's a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. And my daughter was, wanted to ride in the first vehicle because -- that was the first vehicle of the convoy, and the driver didn't know how to get to [Laughs] the Puyallup Fairground. So I said, "Okay, I'll guide you." And that vehicle, this was a army 6 x 6, by the way. That's where Ben Tong was, and I asked him, "How come you're here on this caravan, and how come you're riding on this army truck? Why don't you join, get in one of the vehicles that's warm?" Because he's in the back, and they just got the tarp on the top.

TI: Who was this again?

HM: Dr. Ben Tong.

TI: Okay.

HM: And he's one of Frank Chin's old buddies. So I asked him, "Well, how come you're riding in the back?" And he says, "I want to know how it felt to be taken to camp in a truck, because I want to go through the same experience that you guys did." He says, "I know it's cold, and I'm gonna suffer through this." [Laughs] So I told my daughter, "Well, you ride with Dr. Tong because I want you to have the same experience that he goes through." And that's what she did. Cath -- I mean, Diana went with him, rode in the back. And we went down, head of the caravan, went down...

TI: What was the day like for you? How were you feeling that day?

HM: Well, I was so worried about some of the things that we were supposed to do -- you know all the logistic part of the problem, that I -- my mind was trying to get everything set up in an order, so that we could coordinate the State Patrol, the National Guard people. So I was running around like, not too logically. But Frank Chin tells me, "If we can't get this thing on national TV, nothing will go on." [Laughs] Well, unfortunately, everything went on pretty good. I mean, the whole event took place pretty well. It went on schedule. There was no opposition at the fairgrounds. I had a bad feeling that maybe the American Legion guys in Puyallup would give us a hard time. Later on, of course, they did give us a hard time on the monument that we placed down there. But nonetheless, we felt that some of those guys were gonna make a demonstration in front of the fairgrounds, but they weren't there. Security guys took care of that without any problem. We had a three-and-a-half-mile-long caravan of cars going down I-5.

TI: And how many people participated?

HM: Well, Frank Abe tells me we had 2,200 people on the register. But the thing is we ran out of forms to have people sign up. So when we got down to Puyallup, the guys that were coming directly from Puyallup, Tacoma, and the southern end, Auburn area, when they congregated down at the Puyallup Fairgrounds, well, the sign-up sheets were all gone. So I estimated about 3,300 people. But Frank Abe says it's 2,200. [Laughs] So, take your figure. It was a surprisingly well-behaved group, like Japanese Americans usually are. And I happened to be sitting next to Dave Horsey. Horsey says to me, "I want you to tell me what's going on in this thing." So I said, "Well, here's the program that we think we're going to follow." [Laughs] We think we're gonna follow.

TI: And Dave Horsey was there covering it for The Seattle Times?

HM: No, Post-Intelligencer. Yeah.

TI: Okay. And he's the political cartoonist?

HM: Yeah. He's the Pulitzer Prize winner of the cartoon things, anyway. And so anyway, they had a spiel by this woman, and she was a Issei woman. And she was talking about the desert. She was from, I think she was from Poston. I mean, that's where she was placed in the camp. And she was talking in Japanese. And he says to me, [Laughs] "What is she saying? What is she saying?" So I was trying to translate this thing for him. And so he says -- well, two days later the cartoon comes out in The Seattle P.I. about the description that that woman was making about how life was in the camp. So he was trying to put together a picture in his own mind of what she was describing from the lousy translation I was giving to him. But it's surprising how later on he had another cartoon that was even more interesting. But...

TI: About this event or about just the whole...

HM: Just event, and the history of the evacuation process, because there were, we had all these exhibits. They had -- Harry Kadoshima's father made this huge guard, I mean, it's a water tower. It's a replica of the water tower. And they had kept the thing from the time they left camp, they brought it home from the camp. And it's a huge, huge thing. It stands way up like that.

TI: It's just a replica of the, that he made in camp that he brought back?

HM: Yeah. Yeah.

HM: It's a water tower. And it's a very good replica. And he had all these things on the exhibit. We had things from the "Pride and Shame" show. And then we had different exhibits that Karen Seriguchi put together about the stuff that they remember about the camps, the photographs and all this stuff. There were a lot of displays there. It was a horrendous job to get it down there and put it into position before the event. But they did a very good job. And so this Dave Horsey was able to go and see all this stuff. And he was able to put this thing all together in a kind of a collage in the cartoon that he was presenting in The Seattle P.I.

TI: And how was the other press coverage of the event?

HM: Well, the, all the three TV stations covered it. They gave it primetime display. And the TV production people were there in full force. I mean, they must have used six cameras. And they covered the event, the program, down at Puyallup very carefully. I mean, all the events that were taking place, Pat Morita, George Takei, all these guys. They had 'em very well photographed. Unfortunately, Pat Morita, being a comic that he is, he was trying to relate to the comical parts of the camp. And I thought he was outstanding, [Laughs] because all the things he talked about, you know the fact that -- he sang a song. And it's a song that we used to sing in the camp about, it's a very lousy Japanese version of some of the things that went on. And he talked about the kusai sakana, all this kind of stuff. [Laughs] But people didn't laugh with him. I mean, it was such a serious subject that nobody laughed. And after the thing was over, he says to Frank Chin -- we were all getting together there -- and he says to Frank, "I really bombed this one, didn't I?" But I thought he was great. But nobody was laughing because it was such a serious thing to them, that it was not something of humor. But I thought it was good because it touched on everything that I felt was important in the camp, about the stinky fish, and the fact that we got this same kind of food every day, and they had lousy menu, and all this stuff. The hot, dusty weather in the summertime, and the lousy, cold weather in wintertime, and didn't have the proper sanitation facilities. He touched on all that. You know, I thought he did a heck of a good job, but nobody laughed. I felt badly for him because he had put all that stuff together specifically for that event.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.