Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Richard Murakami Interview
Narrator: Richard Murakami
Interviewer: Dee Goto
Location: South Bend, Washington
Date: May 12, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-mrichard-01

<Begin Segment 1>

DG: So today is May 12, 1998. How many years ago were you born?

RM.: I was born in 1914.

DG: So you're eighty-four years old. What do you think when we're getting at the turn of the century? Did you think that you would see the turn of the century?

RM: Oh yeah, I was pretty healthy.

DG: But does it surprise you that we're here?

RM: Yes. Yeah, this is something different.

DG: So we are here in your home.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: Now, Matt Emery, who is doing the camera, and I'm Dee Goto. Well, I don't know if I said for sure who you are, Richard Murakami.

RM: Richard Murakami.

DG: Sometimes they call you Dick.

RM: Right.

DG: Anyway, Matt and I and his friend drove here. About two and a half hours, is it, from Seattle?

RM: Yeah, about that.

DG: Clear out here in the boonies.

RM: It's the boondocks, all right.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

DG: Anyway, in preparation for this talk today, I've done a lot of interviewing of your friends and your relatives. And you've accomplished what I call the American dream. Anyway, this house you have here, you've lived here how long?

RM: About thirty-five years.

DG: And it's one of the biggest houses here.

RM: Biggest house in town, I guess. I guess there's another one bigger than this, but it's one of the bigger.

DG: It's three stories.

RM: Three stories.

DG: And you raised your girls here?

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: There are four of them?

RM: Yeah.

DG: So who are they?

RM: See the picture up there? Adelle is the oldest, Sheryl, Dianna, and Irene.

DG: And you lived here with your wife who died not too long ago.

RM: Yeah. She just passed away about four years ago.

DG: And her name was?

RM: Setsuko.

DG: What was her maiden name?

RM: Setsuko Tamura.

DG: And her mother was here living with you quite a while too, off and on, right?

RM: Yeah.

DG: And I hear your girls had horses?

RM: Yeah, they had horses and each one had a horse.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

DG: You live in a beautiful area here. It's in southern Washington.

RM: We like it. It's just real...

DG: Right. And it's along the coast.

RM: A good place to live, I think.

DG: What is it? Pacific County here?

RM: Pacific County, yeah.

DG: And what's the population of Pacific County?

RM: Gee, I don't know.

DG: I think somebody said maybe around twenty thousand or something like that.

RM: Yeah. It's about... I think you're pretty close.

DG: Is that right?

RM: Yeah, twenty something thousand.

DG: And you're retired from working at...

RM: Well, I had -- we had our own oyster business, sold that out, and then I started -- then I retired and started selling manufactured homes and the area was too small so we had to close.

DG: That was in the last ten years?

RM: Yeah.

DG: And you've been very active in the community.

RM: Well, I've done several things, yeah.

DG: What boards are you presently serving on?

RM: Well, I'm on the Grays Harbor College board and the Harbor Community Bank board, and I guess that's about it.

DG: Now, but you've served on the school board?

RM: Oh, yeah, well, I'm still on the Grays Harbor College School board.

DG: But the local school board also, right?

RM: Yeah. I was on the local school board, yeah.


DG: Now, we were talking about some of your community activity.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: And so we talked about the different boards that you served on. And then you were treasurer of the...

RM: Methodist, South Bend Methodist Church.

DG: For?

RM: Forty years.

DG: Forty years. [Laughs]

RM: Nobody wanted it so...

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

<Begin Segment 4>

DG: But I hear that you're a real... what is it? Conservative?

RM: Yeah, I'm on the conservative side. That's why I'm a Republican, I guess.

DG: You helped a lot of the candidates.

RM: Yeah.

DG: The state candidates.

RM: Yeah. I just like to do those kinds of things to help others.

DG: Well, I hear this is a very Democratic...

RM: Yeah, it is a Democratic...

DG: ...county.

RM: Democratic county. Yeah, that's right. So, there are very few Republicans.

DG: So, I don't know, I'm guessing, but Japanese are kind of "go along." How come you're a Republican?

RM: Oh, I'm just conservative, I guess. Been a Republican all my life.

DG: Do you think it's important?

RM: Huh?

DG: Is it important to be a Republican?

RM: Well, in a way it is, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

DG: So anyway we've talked about your present situation, but let's then go back and build up to now by talking about your father.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: And maybe we can kind of cover his immigration story.

RM: Yeah.

DG: He was born where?

RM: He was born in Hiroshima, Japan. I forgot what...

DG: 1884? Is that what you said?

RM: I think, yeah. I had it in that. 1884. I think you're right.

DG: And what was his background?

RM: What did he do?

DG: Yeah, his family.

RM: Oh, his family? I don't know too much about his family.

DG: Were they farmers?

RM: I don't know whether they were farmers. I didn't look back into that.

DG: But you do know that his brother, his older brother...

RM: He was the mayor, yeah...

DG: Right, of the...

RM: ...of Hiroshima City.

DG: The village?

RM: Yeah, village.

DG: It's probably not the Hiroshima itself.

RM: No.

DG: But it was the outskirts,

RM: Village, yeah

DG: a little village on the outskirts.

RM: I think it was a little village called Hiroshima, sure.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

DG: And then do you know why your father came over to the United States?

RM: Well, look for opportunities and look for fortune.

DG: And I think that was in 19...

RM: 1912?

DG: '07 or something like that, 1907 that he first came.

RM: When he first came was in 1907, and then he went back after he made some money here.

DG: But what did he do to make that money?

RM: Oh, he just worked for different...

DG: Railroad?

RM: I don't know what he worked at.

DG: Sawmill kind of things or...

RM: Probably railroad, I think he mentioned railroad, yeah.

DG: Then he went back?

RM: Then he went back and brought his wife.

DG: And then you said he caught, he had emphysema or something. He had a problem.

RM: No. He had pleurisy.

DG: Pleurisy.

RM: Yeah, and so my mother wanted him to go to the country.

DG: So now he had the pleurisy, and he met his wife then in the hospital?

RM: Yeah, in Japan, yeah.

DG: Right. And her name was?

RM: Shinayo Yanagi

DG: So then in about 1912, they came back here to Seattle.

RM: Yeah, uh-huh.

DG: And then he didn't come out here immediately. He did something in Seattle.

RM: Yeah, they had a hotel business, but with his health condition my mother wanted to move to the country where the air was more fresher, which they did. And how he ever got this area, I don't know.

DG: Except that he had a brother or cousin or...

RM: Yeah. He had a distant cousin that -- yeah, that's right -- that suggested he come.

DG: So he came here then and what did he do?

RM: He came -- you mean from Japan?

DG: No, from Seattle.

RM: Oh, from Seattle. He came and worked in the oyster company. And then he had an eye on a cranberry business, and he thought that was a good business to get into so he did that.

DG: So did he both of those?

RM: Yeah.

DG: Now, we're talking about 1912?

RM: Yeah, 19...

DG: Before you were born.

RM: Yeah, I was born in 1914.

DG: So where were you born?

RM: I was born in...

DG: No, but you have an older sister.

RM: Yeah.

RM: Where was she born?

RM: She was born in Seattle.

DG: She was born in Seattle, and then you were born out here?

RM: Yeah, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

DG: I think you showed me a picture of the kind of place it was.

RM: Yeah, station house.

DG: And what do you do in a station house?

RM: Well, my father was working out on the oyster, out in the beds.

DG: Okay and what do you do out there?

RM: Gather oysters, plant it, and gather and ship it out.

DG: So the oysters, after they're mature?

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: This has nothing to do with the spats and the seeds.

RM: No.

DG: Just after they're mature, then you hand gather them? I mean, he just...

RM: Yeah, it's all hand work, yeah.

DG: And this was out in -- not too far from here.

RM: No.

DG: Nemah, you said.

RM: Nemah, yeah.

DG: And the picture had some -- the station house was on pilings.

RM: Pilings, yeah.

DG: And sort of in the middle and you had to -- how did you get to shore?

RM: Well, I had to take a boat. We'd see shore every once, maybe twice a year.

DG: That's all?

RM: I mean, he'd have to go more often to get groceries and stuff, but the kids, we were maybe two or three times a year.

DG: Your kidding, so when you were born, your were born actually at the station house, did your mother deliver you with your father and you were all alone?

RM: Yeah.

DG: How did your father know what to do?

RM: Well, I guess he was pretty, you know, pretty good at those kinds of things. He...

DG: I heard there was some magazines and things that had these all written out in Japanese how to deliver a baby or something.

RM: Yeah, I think he studied on that. He's a pretty aggressive person.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

DG: And so he gathered the oysters and then worked for MacGowan, wasn't it?

RM: Yeah, Johnson MacGowan.

DG: But at the same time he was always thinking about owning his own business.

RM: Yeah, getting into his own. He always told me, "Never work for somebody, just get on your own."

DG: And then you have another sister.

RM: Yeah, I have two sisters, right.

DG: Jane.

RM: Jane.

DG: Was she born out there also?

RM: No. I think she was born on -- they had to move off the oyster station because my older sister had to start school so they moved to the land.

DG: And that's when you moved to Nahcotta?

RM: Yeah.

DG: So do you remember some of the daily things by then? How old would you have been then, by the time you moved?

RM: Well, let's see...

DG: Four or so, huh?

RM: Yeah, I would say about four or five.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

DG: So what are your earliest memories of your father's work and so forth?

RM: When we were living on that oyster station, you remember certain things, but...

DG: Did your mother help your father?

RM: Yeah, oh, yeah. She was a worker, yeah.

DG: Where did you play?

RM: Oh, we played in the -- I remember Father used to make boxes shipping oysters, and I used to put them on the ground and play in them.

DG: Out of wood?

RM: Yeah, I can picture.

DG: Well, the picture that I have in my head is just like one building on these pilings. Did you have to play inside the building or could you go outside at all?

RM: Well, there was a platform outside and a workshop.

DG: And your mother never worried about you falling in?

RM: Well, my sister fell in and it was just lucky that Father saw clothes there floating around and just nick of time saved her, yeah. Few more minutes she'd have been gone. Yeah, it was that close.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

DG: Okay. Now then you came to Nahcotta.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: So where did you live there, when you first came to Nahcotta?

RM: First came to Nahcotta? We lived in the oyster station.

DG: In Nahcotta also.

RM: That's Nahcotta, yeah.

DG: But that was more on the ground.

RM: Yeah, Nemah is -- Nahcotta is Nemah, yeah.

DG: Oh, it's the same place?

RM: Same place, yeah.

DG: And this oyster station belonged to Johnson MacGowan.

RM: Yeah, right.

DG: So he worked for them for quite a few years, right?

RM: Yeah, for quite a few years. I don't know just how many years, but quite a few years.

DG: So were they a fairly large concern?

RM: Well, not too large, but they had quite a few acres of ground and stuff.

DG: Were they one of the earliest ones around here?

RM: Johnson MacGowan?

DG: Uh-huh.

RM: Yeah, I think so. Yeah.

DG: And you said they got seeds from...

RM: Well, because they were growing eastern oysters at that time and then, until the seeds started coming from Japan.

DG: So now we're talking the '20s, 1920s.

RM: Yeah.

DG: Okay.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

DG: And so how did your father hear about Dr. Kincaid?

RM: Well, through his distant cousin, Sentaro. I think I got that written in there.

DG: And Dr. Kincaid works for the University of Washington or worked for the University of Washington Fisheries or marine life or someplace?

RM: I think he was the professor of fisheries. Yeah.

DG: Okay. And so he was doing some research in the oysters, was he? Is that what his connection was? Because somehow his name is connected to your father importing the seeds that we're gonna get to.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: Do you remember what he did?

RM: I can't quite remember what the connection was there, but it could have been some research work, yeah.

DG: Because when the seeds were actually imported here, that was about 1928.

RM: Yeah, '28 I think. First big volume.

DG: So there was probably a lot of preliminary work before that.

RM: Oh, yeah.

DG: Had your father made any trips Japan?

RM: No, no. The person that was representing Japan named Tsukimoto. He came over to this country, yeah.

DG: And he was living here?

RM: No, he was living in Japan, but he'd make frequent trips, business trips.

DG: Oh, for the purpose of...

RM: Yeah.

DG: Selling the seeds?

RM: Selling the seeds, yeah.

DG: Okay, so he somehow was connected with Dr. Kincaid.

RM: I think so, yeah. I don't know just what capacity, but he was, yeah.

DG: And then your father then became the representative here.

RM: Uh-huh. Yeah, he became the sales agent, or whatever you want to call him.

DG: Okay, and so now why was this so important that the Japanese seeds came in, and you started to develop that? What was good about them? Why would you want to get them all the way from Japan?

RM: Well, I mean this seed came from Japan.

DG: But why didn't you just continue with the eastern oysters that you had already?

RM: Well, the Japanese oyster's more hardy and grew faster.

DG: Okay.

RM: And more profitable, I guess you call it.

DG: So then it must have been Dr. Kincaid who studied that and found that out? He did the research on that maybe because how did you know it was going to grow here?

RM: I think that Dr. Kincaid did a lot of research work, sure.

DG: Okay, now your brother-in-law's son, so it'd be your nephew, John Fujii, says that there was something about over fishing. Now what does that have to do with...

RM: Over fishing?

DG: Yeah, like a lot of oysters maybe were disappearing and things so the natural ones around here were kind of depleted? I'm not sure when he meant.

RM: Well, I think he was talking about eastern oysters. They finally got less and less, you know.

DG: They didn't propagate?

RM: Yeah, so that's when the Japanese oysters...

DG: Because your father is written up many places about being the first to bring in these seeds.

RM: Yeah, he was.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

DG: And then at the same time he started developing cranberries, okay. Do you know how he thought of that or why got into that?

RM: Cranberries? Well, I think, let's see, now, I had that written in that story about, but...

DG: Well, now is oysters a seasonal thing?

RM: Oysters is seasonal, yeah. So is cranberries.

DG: So maybe he wasn't busy all year with the oysters and so he had time to do something else?

RM: Well, that could have been, yeah. I don't know exactly why he got into...

DG: Now, when was it that you bought property? When did you build your house? Do you remember?

RM: Oh, the house. Gosh, I don't know, must have been in the '20s.

DG: In the 1920s and so you would have been like what, ten?

RM: Something like that, yeah.

DG: Now, he worked for the MacGowans for maybe like ten or twelve years. So then he was saving money all that time.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: So that would have brought you to like 1922, '24.

RM: Yes, in that area.

DG: And then he bought some property?

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: Now, aliens couldn't own property.

RM: Yeah, so we had to have a guardian. His name was Mr. Dupay and he had a hardware store, and that's what our connection was. We bought quite a few stuff and so he helped us on that end of it.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

DG: Now let's characterize your father a little bit. He was about five feet tall, I think.

RM: Yeah, about, I would say...

DG: A small man.

RM: Yeah, 5'1" or something like that.

DG: And I hear he was very good at organizing and...

RM: Yeah, he was.

DG: ...getting along with the local people.

RM: Yeah. He was real capable and getting along with people real good at that and people liked him, uh-huh.

DG: Now, I read somewhere that one of the advantages some of the immigrants had was because they learned this in Japan, that it was part of their culture to organize and get along in a small community.

RM: Yeah, they probably learned it in Japan, I would think. Yeah.

DG: Now did your mother participate in any of this?

RM: Yeah, well, she was the business head, I guess, and she was quite active.

DG: Did she work in the oysters and the cranberries right along with your father?

RM: Oh, yeah. She did a lot of work in the oysters, cranberries. She'd work all summer long.

DG: Did you have any extended family living with you at all like grandparents that came over or...

RM: No.

DG: ...or uncles or aunts or anybody that lived with you? Just your own family?

RM: Just our own family.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

DG: Now, your father built a fairly large home, right?

RM: Yeah.

DG: You said similar to the one that you're living in now.

RM: Yeah.

DG: At this time. And so he must have made quite a bit of money at some of those enterprises.

RM: Well, he did. I said he was successful, but he worked hard too. The house, I think, he helped with a couple carpenters, you know, did a lot of work on that house.

DG: Did you have your own room then?

RM: Oh, yeah.

DG: Now, this Mr. Dupay was your guardian, but you were fairly young, right, at the time?

RM: Oh, yeah.

DG: Was it ever questioned because some of these ownerships were legally brought up to court or something that it wasn't really -- I mean your father was just using your name.

RM: It could have been. I don't know, but as far as I know I don't think he had any problems.

DG: So he was one of the lucky ones.

RM: Yeah, but he could have which I don't know.

DG: Now, he never tried to lease any land because the alien land law prevented that.

RM: Uh-huh, yeah. He bought it in our name through a guardianship, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

DG: Okay. So let's move on now. So he had such a business that -- I don't know all the figures, but according to something called the Tolan Report, the Japanese-owned companies produced 50 percent of the market in Washington.

RM: In the oysters?

DG: Yeah.

RM: Yeah, I think that's...

DG: So how many Japanese companies were there around?

RM: Well, the largest one was ourselves and New Washington, and they're the major ones.

DG: How many employees did you have?

RM: Well, we had, let's see, fifty or sixty. We had shuckers. We had an oyster plant, you know. We had about twenty something shuckers there. People working on it... probably around fifty people.

DG: Similar to what Coast Oyster is now?

RM: Yeah.

DG: That is right by you here?

RM: Yeah, not that large, but...

DG: That's larger than what your operation was.

RM: Oh, yeah, sure.

DG: Twice as big or...

RM: Well, they bought our company out.

DG: Well, before we get there, let's talk about your employees back when your father first started and he called it what?

RM: Eagle Oyster Packing Company.

DG: And so you had twenty, thirty employees.

RM: Yeah.

DG: Okay. Was there any union problems or anything at that time?

RM: Oh, we had lots of union problems, yeah.

DG: Do you remember anything specific?

RM: Well, what I mostly remember is our father said, "If they're gonna to strike like that, I'll strike against them." [Laughs]

DG: What did he mean by that?

RM: Well, he was going to fight it. He was quite a person, yeah, and he did.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

DG: Now you were in school in Nahcotta?

RM: No.

DG: Let's talk about yourself now and your schooling. What I want to get to is you stopped the university to help your father, but let's start with your early years again. Now you went to school in Nahcotta. Were you the only Japanese?

RM: No. Not Nahcotta. No, I went school in Ilwaco. We had to ride a school bus. Had to go about ten miles to school.

DG: And were you only Japanese in your class?

RM: Oh, yeah.

DG: So what did you think of yourself at that time? I mean, did you think of yourself as different from the Caucasians?

RM: Oh, sure.

DG: Why?

RM: Well, because we were, we were.

DG: Did they tease you?

RM: Huh?

DG: Did they tease you?

RM: Well, the little kids used to called us Japs and threw rocks at us, but we got over that.

DG: What did you do when they did that?

RM: Just let it go.

DG: You said you had a temper.

RM: Yeah. Well, we finally changed. People, kids never called us that.

DG: But when they were calling you that, you didn't get upset?

RM: Well, if I remember, I think I got upset all right.

DG: But you didn't do anything back?

RM: Nothing much to do.

DG: Why didn't you?

RM: Huh?

DG: Why didn't you retaliate? Why didn't you fight with them?

RM: I might have did some retaliation, but I just can't remember that.

DG: Did you talk to your mom or your dad about it at all?

RM: Oh yeah, they knew, sure.

DG: And what did they say?

RM: Well, they were fight for your rights.

DG: So they didn't mind if you had a fist fight?

RM: No. Well, I think I had one, but...

DG: Did your father discipline you?

RM: Well, I didn't really do that much, that stuff. [Laughs]

DG: What about your mother, did she tell you to do this or that or did she...

RM: No. I think I was a pretty good boy.

DG: Then how did you know what to do? Did they coach you?

RM: Well, they told me what was right and wrong, I guess.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

DG: So who were your playmates?

RM: Well, the local hakujins.

DG: And what did you play?

RM: What did we play?

DG: Yeah.

RM: Well, like, I don't know any kids do.

DG: Like baseball?

RM: Yeah, I think we had baseball teams.

DG: Did you ever play Kick-the-Can?

RM: No.

DG: You didn't play Kick-the-Can?

RM: No. I don't remember.

DG: Did you build things or did you go fishing or...

RM: No, I didn't like fishing.

DG: Oh. Did you read?

RM: Huh?

DG: Did you read?

RM: I read some, yeah. Sure.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

DG: Did you have family picnics?

RM: Yeah, we had some.

DG: What did you do on Sunday?

RM: Sunday we went to church.

DG: Which church was that?

RM: Methodist. Always been a Methodist. I think for a little while I was a Baptist, but mostly, most of the time it was Methodist, yeah.

DG: Did your mother go to church with you?

RM: No, she didn't.

DG: Just the kids?

RM: Yeah. They were too busy taking care of the house, home.

DG: So Sunday was no special day for them.

RM: No.

DG: Did you ever take time off to go -- was there any community picnics like the Japanese community picnics that you attended?

RM: I don't think there was, no.

DG: So you were too far away.

RM: Too far away.

DG: Were there any other Japanese families in this area at all?

RM: Not at that time, no. Later on there was Japanese people moved in because I hired them to work for me.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

DG: What kind of transportation did you have? A car? A truck?

RM: I remember we had an old, one of those Fords. And we had cars.

DG: Was it square topped?

RM: Well, it was open, you know, sides and -- you know, those old fashioned.

DG: Right. Did you have to wear a blanket when you traveled in it or something because it was cold?

RM: Yeah, I think we did, yeah.

DG: Did you ever go to Seattle?

RM: Not, no, very seldom.

DG: But you knew some of your relatives some, like Jeff and your cousin.

RM: Oh, Jeff lived right at Nahcotta.

DG: Oh, he also lived out there?

RM: That's right.

DG: Okay. And so he grew up Nahcotta too.

RM: Yeah, yeah.

DG: I didn't realize that.

RM: Yeah, my dad called him over from Japan, I think.

DG: Oh.

RM: I think he was kind of an adopted brother, my adopted brother, I guess.

DG: Oh, I see. So he grew up in your house, kind of.

RM: Well, kind of.

DG: And then you said the Nakaos were out here pretty early.

RM: Yeah, there was the Nakaos, lived in Nahcotta.

DG: Well, this was in '30s, though, but nobody in the '20s. Is that what you meant?

RM: I think it was '30s, yeah. And there was a couple more Japanese families.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

DG: So when you were going to high school, you graduated from where?

RM: Ilwaco.

DG: What year was that?

RM: Let's see, 1932.

DG: Okay.

RM: Yeah. I think it was '32.

DG: Now, were you active in school at all?

RM: Yeah, I was pretty active.

DG: What did you do?

RM: Well, I was -- I forget just what I did, but anyway different...

DG: Now, I forget what you mentioned before, but I think you were in some clubs and organizations.

RM: I think this was when I was going later on, I think. Yeah, but I was pretty active. I can't remember just exactly in what, but...

DG: Well, your friends were all hakujin.

RM: Yeah.

DG: And what did you do for fun by then? Did you drive your car at all, your own...

RM: Yeah, I used to drive.

DG: Your family car?

RM: Yeah.

DG: And then what did you do? Was there a place to go get hamburgers or anything like that?

RM: No. Once in a while I used to take the family car.

DG: Did you attend any of the social events like dances or anything like that?

RM: No, I didn't dance.

DG: Go to the games?

RM: Games probably, yeah.

DG: Was there any feeling of a problem because you were Japanese?

RM: Well, I don't think so, no. I didn't feel that anyway.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

DG: Now, was there any doubt in your mind about going on to school? I mean, you went on to the university

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: Was education stressed in your family?

RM: Yeah. I thought that was very important. I think so.

DG: Your father or your mother or both?

RM: I think my mother more.

DG: Oh, that's right. Mary was ahead of you. Did she go away to the university at all?

RM: No, she didn't. I was the only one.

DG: Okay. But what did she do after she graduated?

RM: Well, she got married in -- I forgot what year that was.

DG: Pretty young then.

RM: Yeah, to Fujii.

DG: So was she married by the time you went to the university?

RM: Oh, I don't think she was married by that time.

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

<Begin Segment 22>

DG: Okay. Now, you went to the university a couple of years.

RM: Yeah.

DG: And you lived in the Student Club there.

RM: Japanese Student Club, yeah.

DG: Because that's where you met Toru.

RM: Yeah.

DG: But you had to -- so how long did you go?

RM: Go to school?

DG: Uh-huh.

RM: A couple years, maybe year and a half. So then I had to come back and help dad, had to take care of the oysters and cranberry business. He couldn't take care of both of them so I came back to help, and then I was gonna go back again, but I got so busy I never did.

DG: Now, when you came back to help run the oyster business, you said you took care of the oyster part and your father continued with the cranberries. Now, we're talking about 1935. Is that about the time?

RM: 19... let's see... graduated in '32. Gee, I don't know.

DG: Well, somewhere around there, '34 or '35. What did you have to do to help manage? Did you know the oyster business already by then or did you have to learn it?

RM: No, I had to learn it. Well, I might -- when I was going to school, I may have worked enough to know what's going on.

DG: Oh, in the summers?

RM: Yeah. So I think I more or less took over pretty fast.

DG: Now, we're talking about the Eagle Oyster Company.

RM: Yeah.

DG: So you worked in Eagle Oyster Company until the war started?

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: So then you knew the business quite well.

RM: Oh, sure.

DG: And it was thriving and you had...

RM: Uh-huh.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

DG: Okay. Did you know that there was going to be a war?

RM: I don't think.

DG: Had you heard anything?

RM: I knew they were having troubles between the two countries, but I think it's a surprise to everybody, I guess. We were in Portland organizing another branch plant there in Portland.

DG: Oh, okay.

RM: And then we heard that Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japanese and, boy, that really surprised us. We never dreamed of that.

DG: So what did you do?

RM: Well, we got kind of frozen there in Portland. Didn't know whether to travel or what, but my friend was, high school friend, worked for some government office there and he got through. He was pretty -- he had a pretty important position there. I didn't know what it was, forgot.

DG: For the government?

RM: Yeah.

DG: Here in Washington or in Portland?

RM: No, this was in Portland. Yeah.

DG: This was in Portland. Okay. So since the war started, were you actually in Portland at that time when you heard about Pearl Harbor?

RM: Yeah, I was actually in Portland.

DG: And you were living there and staying there?

RM: No, we are staying there organizing the...

DG: And going back and forth.

RM: Yeah, my mother and I were there.

DG: Your mother was there with you?

RM: Yeah, I remember.

DG: Why was she with you?

RM: I don't know exactly why, but anyway she was.

DG: Well, then did she have something to do with starting this branch office too?

RM: No, I don't know why she was there with me, but she was anyway.

DG: And there was a question of your being able to drive back here to Nahcotta.

RM: Yeah, uh-huh. Well, we didn't know what they might stop us or pull us in or...

DG: Okay, and so you contacted your friend.

RM: Yeah.

DG: And then so he drove you back or came back with you or...

RM: No, he said there shouldn't be any trouble or just give me a call, and we didn't have any trouble.

DG: So where were you staying in Portland?

RM: You mean what hotel?

DG: Oh, you were in a hotel?

RM: Yeah. I forgot what the hotel name was.

DG: So you were just getting that negotiation started.

RM: Yeah.


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

<Begin Segment 24>

DG: Okay Richard, now, one of things I'm not sure about, did we mention earlier that your father's name was Ira?

RM: That's, yeah, English yeah, American.

DG: Where did he get that name?

RM: Well, I guess Itsuyuki was too hard to pronounce. I guess Ira was pretty easy, so I think he just got it.

DG: Well, we were talking about this at the break that's why I'm bringing it up now. And your own Japanese name besides Richard was...

RM: Huh?

DG: Your own name, what was your Japanese name?

RM: Kenitsu.

DG: So part of your father's name then.

RM: Yeah. Itsu, yeah.

DG: Did your family call you that at home?

RM: Yeah, my mother used to call me Ken. Not Itsu so much, just Ken.

DG: And did they speak English at home or Japanese?

RM: Well, they tried speak more English to learn English so we didn't get to learn Japanese too well.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

DG: Okay. Let's get back into talking about Pearl Harbor again. Now, you were in Portland.

RM: Yeah.

DG: And what did you think was gonna happen to the Japanese people?

RM: Well, we just, I mean, I don't think we gave any thought about what was going to happen. It was a shock anyway.

DG: Why did you call your friend if...

RM: Oh, well, we didn't know whether we were going to get stopped or pulled in or what.

DG: Why would you think that?

RM: Because being Japanese.

DG: Was it embarrassing at all?

RM: No, it wasn't embarrassing, but anyway it wasn't a very good feeling.

DG: I guess I asked that question because I know somebody else who was just tremendously embarrassed by all of it.

RM: Why would he be embarrassed?

DG: Because being Japanese and having Japan attack.

RM: Well, I don't know whether I was embarrassed or not, but it's quite a shock all right.

DG: Were you worried about business?

RM: Well, we didn't know what was gonna happen to the business.

DG: What did your mom say?

RM: Gosh, she didn't know what to say either. It's a big shock to everybody.

DG: Now, let's -- by shock, what makes it a shock?

RM: Well, that Japan and this country would be at war. And we knew something was going on, but we didn't think the attack was gonna... anyway, we were in Portland, like I said, and we didn't know what was gonna, might happen to us.

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

<Begin Segment 26>

DG: Now, we're going to get into a little bit more high drama in your life and you've kind of philosophically put this behind you, but try to remember as much as you can about how you were feeling and what you did. So you came back to Nahcotta and some people were taken away, but your father was okay.

RM: You mean was interned?

DG: Yeah.

RM: No, he wasn't interned. My brother-in-law was interned, Jerry Fujii.

DG: Had he been living close by?

RM: Yeah. He was living with us, I think, at that time.

DG: So why was he taken?

RM: Well, he was in the exporting business and I guess they figured that he might have -- I don't know. I guess they were hysterical, but anyway he was in the export business, and he's pretty aggressive, you know. I mean he wasn't afraid to say what he felt was right. Yeah.

DG: So was there anything else that -- I guess a thought that occurs to me is that one of things that everybody was worried about was that the Japanese were going to give signals or something and here you guys are out on the ocean.

RM: Yeah, they were afraid that I was going to contact the Japanese submarines. [Laughs]

DG: How come they didn't take you away then?

RM: Well, one guy, he was an army officer, retired army officer, he was trying to get me put away, but other people said, "No, no, he's not that type of a person. He's born here and I know he's a good American." But this one guy sure wanted to see me put away.

DG: Was this connected with your business or...

RM: No, no, he was retired.

DG: Somebody in town?

RM: Somebody living right in Ocean Park, right close to Nahcotta.

DG: How did you know that he wanted you put away?

RM: Well, he come right out and say so, that type of guy.

DG: So did you have people doing that to you in town telling, saying things to you?

RM: No, there was very few of those. Most of the people were real nice. Anyway, when we went to Chicago, people didn't even realize that we were going through all that and...

DG: This was after the war you're talking about now?

RM: No, it was during the war, you know, wartime.

DG: Oh, after you went to camp though.

RM: Yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 27>

DG: Let's stay with Pearl Harbor time. Now, something that I do know is that you started making plans to lease your business.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: Tell me about some of the things that happened, if you can. About hiring the lawyer?

RM: Oh, yeah. Well, no, the lawyer, he was -- I didn't have nothing against him, but we couldn't travel more than a five mile radius, but gosh, I mean, from Nahcotta to South Bend is about 50 miles.

DG: Oh, it's that far.

RM: Yeah. So I said, "No matter what anybody says, I'm going to get there some way," and that's where I got caught, on the way. The young soldier was really excited, guns pointin' to my head. And then the fellow comes down and he says, he scolded him and told him, "No, he's an American citizen, so you let him go." If it wasn't for him, I don't know what would have happened.

DG: So this was when you were traveling from Nahcotta to South Bend.

RM: South Bend, yeah.

DG: To hire a lawyer.

RM: Yeah, well, my lawyer was living in south Raymond is where he was living.

DG: Okay.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

DG: And then well, of course, you didn't start to do this right away. So right after Pearl Harbor you maintained your business a little bit or when did you have to leave? Let's move back. When did you hear about being interned and having to take care of business and things?

RM: Gosh, let's see. We were put in camp when? '42?

DG: Right. But Pearl Harbor happened in December and the notice for the internment didn't come out until February. So during that time...

RM: Well, I think it was sometime close to May, I think it was anyway.

DG: That you actually left?

RM: Yeah, May or June.

DG: So I want to know some of the things that was going on during that time that you were getting ready and having to decide what to do 'cause you would have had a huge business. You had cranberries and oysters.

RM: Yeah, so anyway they were posting that notice that all Japanese had to leave. They even posted some on our plant.

DG: Did you leave it there?

RM: Yeah, I just laughed at them and so anyway...

DG: Who posted the notices?

RM: I don't know. Some -- I guess, they were hired to do that.

DG: The army people?

RM: I forgot just whether it was the army people or who it was, but anyway...

DG: So you just read it and laughed at it.

RM: Yeah, they were posting those all around, and then they posted some on our plant there.

DG: On your plant itself?

RM: And we kind of laughed at them.

DG: Well, were people excited around you? I mean did they...

RM: No, they kind of felt it was funny themselves too.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

DG: The workers, what did they do?

RM: Let's see, the workers. Anyway when we came back, they were afraid to come to work for us and so the veterans came and said, "We'll work for ya."

DG: Okay, now, this is after you came back from the [Inaudible]. Let's stay with Pearl Harbor time. One of the things that I forgot to establish earlier is who were your workers, the twenty or thirty people? Were they hakujins or Japanese or...?

RM: Well, some Japanese too, but mostly hakujins, yeah.

DG: Mostly hakujin. And what about your family, did you all work in the business at that time?

RM: I did, but -- you mean my father and mother?

DG: And sisters or whatever.

RM: No, they didn't.

DG: Your mother -- oh, so now you had the cranberries also so she was working over there.

RM: Yeah, right.

DG: Okay, so then the workers came to work and some of them were afraid to come.

RM: Uh-huh, this is after the war.

DG: Okay, now, what about right after Pearl Harbor. What were they -- you had no trouble with your workers then?

RM: I don't think so. I kind of forgot what transpired, but I don't think there was no, nothing.


<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

DG: Okay, Richard, we're talking about your business, your oyster business, at the Eagle Oyster Company. Now, they've posted a notice on your building that you have to leave.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: Okay, and you had some Japanese workers.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: And now was -- did business go along as usual? I mean, were you the same output and everything?

RM: Oh, yeah. I don't know think it affected anything. Maybe -- let's see, now when was that notice? Maybe the plant was closed. See, it's seasonal, you know.

DG: Oh, okay.

RM: And it could have been closed at that time when they posted, if it was May.

DG: Well, it was earlier than that that they posted that.

RM: Oh.

DG: It was at least by March.

RM: March. I don't remember.

DG: Did it upset you? Did you get mad?

RM: Well, didn't make me feel good. No, I didn't get mad or anything.

DG: What about protesting.

RM: Huh? I mean, they, the people that were doing that, they got orders to do it, I guess, and they were kind of apologizing.

DG: Oh.

RM: They didn't think it was right either, but it's one of those things...

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

DG: So then you had that incident as you went to get your papers straight, as far as leasing it to somebody.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: And did you say it was on the Pallacks bridge or something?

RM: Pallacks.

DG: Where is that?

RM: Well, that's between South Bend and Nahcotta, about halfway somewhere.

DG: And so were you by yourself?

RM: Yeah. Yeah, I was crossing the bridge there and the soldiers come down and pointed the gun at my head and asked me what I was doin', and he says, "Well, I guess we'll have to take you to headquarters." And then the lieutenant come down and he saved my neck.

DG: Now, lieutenant was somebody you knew?

RM: No. No, he knew better than, you know. I mean, he understood all that. No, I didn't know him. So he came down and he said, "No, you let him go because he's an American citizen." Yeah, I told him, "I'm an American citizen." and all that. And I says, "I don't know why I'm gettin' treated like this." So I left there.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

DG: Can we talk about your actually leaving now? What did you do?

RM: You mean leaving for camp?

DG: Your house, yeah.

RM: Well, we just tried to lease it out, I mean, the best we could. Did we find somebody? But I think somebody was taking care of our cranberries that was working for us and I think he's the one that, they're the one that took over. They didn't do very good though.

DG: So it was a fairly brand new house too that...

RM: Yeah.

DG: were living in.

RM: Oh, sure.

DG: And so then you had to leave all this.

RM: Yeah.

DG: And you went where?

RM: We went to Tule Lake.

DG: Now, how did get there?

RM: Well, bus. I think -- let's see, how did we get... Anyway, it picked us up at Long Beach and closed all the blinds so we couldn't see where we were goin'. That's how we got...

DG: So did you sell quite a bit of your equipment and things? What did you do with your car?

RM: Well, I don't think we had any time to do any of that. We just had to leave everything and -- I forgot exactly, you know. I forgot about the car. I don't know what... let's see. What did we do with our car? I forgot.

DG: And you got on the bus and you went to Tule Lake.

RM: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

DG: What did you think when you went to Tule Lake or got there?

RM: What kind of place? Well, I didn't -- I don't know just exactly what feelings I had there. I knew it wasn't right, but...

DG: How long did you think you'd be gone?

RM: Huh?

DG: How long did you think you'd be gone?

RM: Well, we weren't sure. I mean...

DG: By this time had you heard any news about the war with Japan?

RM: Well, yeah. Anyway, in Portland why we heard that Pearl Harbor was attacked.

DG: But since then, you know, by the time -- Pearl Harbor was December and by the time you left was May. In between there, had you heard any reports about the war and whether Japan was doing pretty well, I guess, at one time.

RM: Yeah, well, I just forgot.

DG: So when you got to Tule Lake and you had to live in the barracks, who all went with you of your family?

RM: Well, let's see. That would have been in, that's '42 and...

DG: Your mother and your father?

RM: My father and mother, yeah. And I forgot whether I was -- '42. Let's see.

DG: Your sister?

RM: Yeah. Well, let's see. One of my -- I forgot about my sister. I think she, they left or had left the area.

DG: Oh, because her husband had been taken away early.

RM: I think so, yeah.

DG: Your older sister.

RM: Yeah, I think so.

DG: Okay. In Tule Lake then was your sister Jane with you?

RM: No, I think they -- Jane and Nish Kumagai...

DG: Were already married also?

RM: I think they left ahead. I'm not sure. I can't remember.

DG: Okay.

RM: I think they left on their own.

DG: So it was just you and your mother and father.

RM: Yeah, parents.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

DG: Okay, so then you went to Tule Lake.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: And where did you work?

RM: First I worked in the warehouse and then I became an assistant to the head guy there in the warehouse. And he was taking a lot of stuff, sell it to the black market and he wanted me to do it too and I told him, "Nothing doing. If you're gonna to do that, I'm quittin'," and he fired me. So I wouldn't participate in something like that.

DG: So then you went to work for the...

RM: Yeah, hospital. And I was doin' the head accountant there, and then they promoted me to business agent. Yeah.

DG: And you even got a commendation or something.

RM: Yeah. They -- I think back in Washington, D.C. somebody wrote a letter said how good I was doing.

DG: Now, one other -- something else that I forgot to establish earlier is that, did you take accounting when you went to the university?

RM: Well, I took some, yeah.

DG: And that's why you were so good at all this accounting.

RM: Well, I liked accounting.

DG: And you liked that. 'Cause it seems like wherever you went, you sort of took care the books.

RM: Yeah, more or less, sure.

DG: And took care of books and sort of managed.

RM: Yeah.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

DG: Now, you met your wife. Where along here did you meet her?

RM: Well, it was in camp anyway, Tule Lake, and I forget just what...

DG: Okay. You were a young man about twenty-four years old.

RM: Something like that, yeah.

DG: And must have been a lot of pretty girls.

RM: Yeah.

DG: You met your wife where?

RM: At what occasion?

DG: Uh-huh.

RM: Well, I forgot exactly what the occasion was. Some kind of a doings, you know.

DG: A social.

RM: Social, yeah, social doing. I forgot exactly what it was.

DG: And how long was it before you got married? Because you weren't there that long.

RM: I think it wasn't too long, yeah. We got married and left for Chicago and...

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

DG: Okay. So you went to camp in Tule Lake in the end of 1942, probably around summer or September.

RM: I thought it was around May, but I don't know.

DG: Then maybe you were one of early ones in Tule Lake.

RM: No. Well, we didn't go to -- where did they go first?

DG: Well, some people went to Pinedale.

RM: No, we didn't go to...

DG: You didn't go there.

RM: No. We went directly to...

DG: Was it hot? Was it summertime?

RM: Well, I thought it was in May, around May. I forgot.

DG: Well, then you would have been one of the first ones there.

RM: Could have been.

DG: And what -- do you remember what block you were in?

RM: Gee, 42. I don't know what it was. I thought it was 42, I'm not sure.

DG: Well, that's the year, but also the block you were in.

RM: That's what I thought it was.

DG: Okay, so that's sort of in the middle.

RM: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

DG: Were you there when any of the protesting happened?

RM: Yeah, I think we were there. Yeah.

DG: So did you answer the loyalty question?

RM: Yeah.

DG: In the spring of '43.

RM: Yeah, sure. Loyalty.

DG: And then you had the opportunity then to leave.

RM: Yeah.

DG: And you went. So you were married by then.

RM: Yeah.

DG: So that was a pretty quick courtship. [Laughs]

RM: Not too long. [Laughs]

DG: Do you know the date when you got married?

RM: September... I got it written down here someplace.

DG: Oh, okay.

RM: Yeah.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

DG: Okay. Then why did you go to Chicago?

RM: Well, all of our friends were going there and looked like they were getting pretty good jobs so...

DG: So why did your parents stay in camp?

RM: Well, they didn't want to move, you know. I don't think any of the Isseis, some of them, but most of them wanted to stay there.

DG: Okay. Let's talk about your parents now in these times, okay? What was your father -- like what kind of things was he saying as all this was happening to you? Was he upset? Your mother had to leave a beautiful home.

RM: Yeah. Well, no I don't think they were as upset as they should have, could have been, you know. I think they realized that it's something that's happened and no use resisting it.

DG: But here, I mean, your father had all these businesses and he had to leave them. And then when was it that it came up that you had to sell the house and the cranberry business?

RM: That was while we were in camp.

DG: Right. And why was that?

RM: Why we had to sell?

DG: Uh-huh.

RM: Well, the person that was looking after -- I mean, he wasn't actually run the place, but he had a store in Ilwaco [Inaudible]. He got a lot of pressure, I think, from people there. So he thought it would be most advisable to sell and get what we could.

DG: And he wrote to you to tell you this?

RM: Yeah, I don't know whether he wrote or called or what, but anyway that's what he said.

DG: And so you agreed to do this?

RM: Well, he was my, like I say, my guardian or whatever and so we had quite a bit of trust in him.

DG: Okay. So you sold your house and your cranberry farm.

RM: Yeah. he suggested -- well, if it was a little bit later, he probably wouldn't have, but at that time it looked like we didn't know how long we would be in camp. And so he -- that's what he suggested anyway.

DG: But you think that he was pressured somewhat to do this.

RM: He was pressured, sure.

DG: What did you get for it?

RM: Huh?

DG: What did you get for it?

RM: We got nothing for it. Ten thousand dollars cash, that is nothing, a drop in the bucket. We had about ten acres of cranberries and nice home and ten thousand, you couldn't even buy part of the house for ten thousand. Something that just had to -- forced into.

DG: The furniture and everything?

RM: Yeah. It was ridiculous, but what else could we..., you know?

DG: Well, but you tell me that your father took it pretty hard.

RM: Yeah. Yeah, he did.

DG: And you think that that had to do with his health.

RM: Yeah, I think so.

DG: Just imagine, losing everything that you had built up.

RM: He worked a lifetime, yeah. Yeah, my mother was more stronger will -- I mean, more will so she didn't take it that hard. She took it hard all right, but not as hard as my father did.

DG: Do you remember anything he said or did or that made you realize how hard it was on him?

RM: Well, I could tell.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

DG: So now your parents stayed in camp, but they were moved to...

RM: Minidoka.

DG: Minidoka because you were...

RM: Yeah, because they put all the, what they call the disloyal ones in Tule Lake, I think. So and then they moved the others in other camps.

DG: So there was no question on your father's part that it was yes/yes, right?

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: And yourself too?

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: And then you went to Chicago. Then what did you do there?

RM: In Chicago I was a accountant for a toy factory, and then I volunteered, but I didn't pass my physical because I had a bad case of ulcers by that time.

DG: Well, that's sure indicative of how you were taking all of this.

RM: Yeah. So let's see, where was I [Inaudible]?

DG: So you were rejected as far as the army was concerned.

RM: Yeah, I was rejected. I was deferred in other words, but they [Inaudible] to call me back.

DG: And then you went to work for...

RM: Glowlight Toy Factory.

DG: For all the time you were in Chicago?

RM: No, for a while. Then I didn't pass my physical and then I went into some kind of defense work. I forget what it was.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

DG: Okay. And then as soon as you could come back to this area, you came back. So how did you come?

RM: You mean what transportation? I think I had, we had a car.

DG: So did you buy a car?

RM: Yeah.

DG: Well, maybe with that ten thousand that you got for the house. What kind of car was it?

RM: Well, it was a, not a bad car. I forgot just what kind of car it was, but I remember buying a car and coming back here.

DG: So you had a car to go to Chicago also?

RM: No.

DG: Or you bought it in Chicago.

RM: I think we bought it in Chicago, yeah.

DG: And then you had a baby by that time.

RM: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

DG: And so then you drove your car and you stopped by Minidoka.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: And tell me what happened after that.

RM: Well, gee, I forgot. It's so long ago, but anyway, I think we went back to Nahcotta and... I kind of forgot the instance.

DG: Now, this is where I want to you remember as much as you can because this is really important.

RM: Oh, I see.

DG: Okay, so you picked up your parents.

RM: Yeah.

DG: And you went back to Nahcotta because you had the oyster company.

RM: Yeah, but we had to bring them to Seattle because...

DG: Oh, you took your folks to Seattle?

RM: Well, we went back to Nahcotta first, but people, you know, we could feel the tension.

DG: And you stayed where?

RM: In Seattle?

DG: No, in Nahcotta. Tell me the story about -- you went to Nahcotta and you stayed there --

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: -- to try to reestablish yourselves.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: Your house was gone and your cranberries were gone.

RM: Yeah.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 42>

DG: So you didn't have a house to go back to.

RM: No.

DG: What about all the belongings in your house and things? Did you -- were you able to collect anything?

RM: I think we kind of more or less gave it away.

DG: Gave it away?

RM: Yeah.

DG: Okay. Now, you told me about the Moby Dick Hotel...

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: Nahcotta. Okay. And you went there so tell me what happened. The owner...

RM: Well, we went to Moby Dick Hotel and people were real nice to us and told us to stay as long as we wished to do so and if anybody starts anything he says, "I got a gun here so don't worry."

DG: Now, he said that to you because he knew the tension that was in the city.

RM: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, he didn't feel that was right. They was real understandable people.

DG: So he was going to use the gun to help protect you.

RM: That's what he said. I don't know.

DG: Because he had heard what? Heard that they weren't gonna to let you back into the plant or what?

RM: Yeah. Then we went to get our place back and Lyle says the war is still not over and peace not declared so we don't have to give it back 'til then. So then I think I went to see my lawyer and somehow we got it back.

DG: Well, but then before you did that, there were a lot of things that happened. It wasn't as simple as that.

RM: No, it wasn't simple. No, that's right.

DG: So you tried get it back and they wouldn't let you and were talking about, you know, guns were involved and things I heard.

RM: Yeah.

DG: And so you took your parents then to Seattle.

RM: Yeah, because the owner of the Moby Dick Hotel he had -- yeah, I think that's gun they were referring so if anybody comes and fools around why they better watch out.

DG: Well, I heard there were some guns on the other side too, that they were threatening you.

RM: Could have been, yeah.

DG: According to your cousin and a few people.

RM: Yeah.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 43>

DG: Okay, so you took your parents to Seattle and then you had them stay there and you had gotten a lawyer. Now, how did Toru get involved now because I know Toru Sakahara and he's lawyer in Seattle.

RM: Yeah.

DG: And you knew him from your student days.

RM: Yeah, and he was doing our legal work.

DG: Okay. Not just the one in Raymond, but he was helping you.

RM: Yeah, among other things. Yeah.

DG: And then how did your relative Min come into the picture?

RM: Well, Min went down with me to take our properties back.

DG: Okay. Now, according to Min, who I talked to, he says that his sister was married to a Murakami.

RM: Yeah, his sister was married to my cousin.

DG: Your cousin Jeff, right. So they asked him to come and help you.

RM: Sure.

DG: Why was that? Why did you want him to help you?

RM: Well, he'd have more influence because he was in the army, an officer in the army, and all that stuff.

DG: In uniform.

RM: Yeah.

DG: So did he drive back here with you in uniform?

RM: Yeah, but it didn't do any good because even he -- I mean, they still told him to, you know.

DG: Come on. Tell me what they said.

RM: Yeah, he was a person in uniform, because being a Japanese, you know. So anyway that's how it was.

DG: But so, was there quite an exchange of name calling and what not?

RM: No, I don't think that. No.

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 44>

DG: Well, your nephew tells me that his father was involved, his father George Fujii.

RM: Yeah.

DG: Okay. And I know you're friends with Vern Hayes now, but I understand that some things happened with him back then that he even threatened him with a gun and so forth at one time. Is that true?

RM: Who threatened who?

DG: Well, Vern Hayes. Wasn't he kind of -- you told me a little bit about him.

RM: Yeah, he was a real outgoing person. Yeah.

DG: You used a few stronger words than that.

RM: Maybe I did.

DG: But he eventually kind of what, made peace? So he was trying to get the oyster business away from you guys too at one time.

RM: Well, maybe he did.

DG: Or part of the contingent that was resisting.

RM: By pretending to be a friend of ours, but it's hard to figure out what they was thinking about.

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 45>

DG: So you, at this time then, your folks were in Seattle and Min tells me that you were commuting back and forth and taking legal action and physical action to get your...

RM: Property.

DG: Property back. And then once you took it over, what did you have?

RM: What was the question?

DG: You got the business back, the Eagle Oyster Company, but you told me some about what kind of shape it was in.

RM: Yeah. Well, the oyster beds more or less depleted of oysters, and plant -- they took part of our electrical wiring and put in it in their own plant area building and really...

DG: Kind of raped it.

RM: Raped it, yeah. Right.

DG: Okay. Now, Min tells me that he was here about two or three months helping you rebuild. What did you have to rebuild?

RM: Well, we had to, well, to work on the plant there, to rebuild. I guess you could call it rebuild.

DG: Physically.

RM: The plant.

DG: Like the wiring.

RM: Yeah, and get, there was a lot of work.

DG: And then how did you replant the oyster beds and what not?

RM: Well, fortunately we had wild oysters on our -- we had quite a bit of acres of wild oysters that grew wild there. And so we took those and planted in our beds. Yeah.

<End Segment 45> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 46>

DG: So at what point then did Coast Oyster buy it?

RM: You mean what year?

DG: What year, yeah, because I forgot what year that was.

RM: I forgot myself. It doesn't show there?

DG: It probably does. But Coast Oyster bought your plant and tell me, now Coast Oyster is here in South Bend and always was here.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: And they were one of the largest...

RM: Yeah.

DG: ...companies, had several branches and you were attempting at one time to start having branches like they have, right?

RM: Yeah.

DG: Okay. So before we get into, about their buying it, how do you think that it affected your family in terms of camp and things. What did it do to you?

RM: Well, I don't know just how to answer that one.

DG: Okay. Like your father, he developed health problems because of it.

RM: Yeah.

DG: And we were talking earlier how you sort of lost a lot of your drive and your fire.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: 'Cause I was wondering why you were willing to sell and not just rebuild and start going again.

RM: Oh, I see what you mean now. Well, they gave us a pretty good offer because the down payment was real small, but they gave us a big price on it. And so something we couldn't resist.

DG: Now, was this after a year or two that you had tried to bring it back? Was it right away?

RM: No, I think it wasn't -- I don't know whether it was right away or not, but it wasn't too much time elapsed there.

<End Segment 46> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 47>

DG: And your father never came back here. He stayed in Seattle.

RM: Yeah. My cousin and myself and Min, Min Tsubota.

DG: And so then you sold the Eagle Company.

RM: Uh-huh.

DG: And part of the agreement was what? For you to stay on as...

RM: Oh, yeah. Then they wanted me to put in a contract that I stay on for so many years to manage that end of it, yeah.

DG: So did you stay in Nahcotta to do that?

RM: Yeah.

DG: Okay. So then that's where your other girls were born, and you raised your family in Nahcotta.

RM: Yeah, they were raised in Nahcotta, yeah.

DG: Okay. So because you came back in Nahcotta in 1946 or '47.

RM: Yeah.

DG: And then you didn't move here to South Bend until 1960 or so.

RM: Yeah.

DG: So your family was mostly raised there.

RM: Yeah.

DG: And you managed the Eagle. Did the name stay the same?

RM: Yeah.

DG: Eagle Oyster Company.

RM: Eagle Oyster Packing Company.

DG: So during that time, did you increase the business and develop it more?

RM: During what period?

DG: When you managed it.

RM: Oh, after we came back?

DG: Uh-huh.

RM: No, I don't think it increased it any, but I think we stayed about the same.

<End Segment 47> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 48>

DG: And maybe this is not -- I can ask somebody else, but New Washington was the other large company. Did it keep going too?

RM: Yeah.

DG: They maintained their business. So the Japanese people were still involved in oysters is what I'm getting at.

RM: Yeah, but we -- I think it was about the same time that we gave it up, you know.

DG: Okay and are there any Japanese-owned companies now?

RM: I don't think so.

DG: So that's probably the biggest factor.

RM: Yeah.

DG: But are there Japanese people like you involved still? I mean, do you meet other people or are they mostly Caucasian managing and what not.

RM: In the oyster business?

DG: Uh-huh.

RM: Mostly Caucasian. Let's see, is there any Japanese? I don't know.

DG: Well, there is Mr. Maita, Joe Maita is still here.

RM: Yeah, but he don't own any. He's working.

DG: Uh huh, right.

RM: Yamashita, I guess.

DG: Right and he still owns his business.

RM: Yeah, I don't know whether he does or not. He was having a real hard time.

DG: Is his business still in the Seattle area?

RM: Yeah, but at that time he was having a difficult time.

DG: So he is one of the only ones that has continued after the war.

RM: I think so.

<End Segment 48> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 49>

DG: How could you work so hard for the community when they did all these things to you?

RM: You mean, after -- it has to be after. Well, I guess I didn't hold any real bad feeling against it. And they asked me if I would do it and so I did it.

DG: What would you like your children and grandchildren to know about yourself as a Japanese American or does it matter that you're Japanese American?

RM: No, we're proud of it.

DG: That's good.

RM: But I don't know. Just do what's right anyways.

DG: So that's the advice you would give your grandkids?

RM: Yeah, do whatever you feel is right, you know.

DG: What happens when there is adversity like you faced?

RM: As long as you know you're doing the right thing, I think.

DG: What about when people come at you with guns?

RM: Well, I guess you got to shoot them back. [Laughs] No, I don't know whether, it just got to that point.

DG: Would you do anything different now?

RM: No, I don't think so.

DG: So you feel that you did protest to a certain extent.

RM: Oh, yeah.

DG: You just didn't let them run over you.

RM: No. We did what we could.

DG: Did you get into any physical encounters...

RM: No.

DG: ...doing this?

RM: No.

DG: It was mostly your negotiating skills.

RM: Mouth to mouth.

DG: Well, thank you very much.

RM: Yeah.

DG: It's an important story.

RM: I hope I contributed something there, but... [laughs]

<End Segment 49> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.