Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: George Fugami Interview
Narrator: George Fugami
Interviewer: Dee Goto
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 15, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-fgeorge-01-0023

<Begin Segment 23>

DG: Okay. Now, we're in the United States. You went to the Technolo-, you went into accounting and then how long was that?

GF: That was a year and a half or something like that, I think. See, I went in there later, see, so at first I had nothing to do. So I helped my mother and father out. They bought a little farm and I was helping them out on the farm.

DG: So then could you get a job? What was the climate like here, back here?

GF: Oh, "You can't get a job. You're Japanese, you can't get a job." So you figure a lot of Japanese kids went to work for, work for themselves or they take menial jobs, whatever they can get a hold of. You couldn't get a job. I know I was a... the teacher said, "Well, now George, you can go get a job as a bookkeeper." So I went to some places that had bookkeeper, they wouldn't hire. They says, "No, we don't hire Japanese." They said right offhand -- "We don't hire Japanese."

DG: And this is in Portland?

GF: Yeah, Portland. And this is a heck of a country.

DG: Well, did you know already that they were going to say that?

GF: No, I didn't know. That's who I went to see, and a lot of places they don't hire Japanese.

DG: So then what did you think?

GF: Huh?

DG: Then what did you think?

GF: I thought the United States was a hell of place. [Laughs] But what I was thinking about at that time, I thought maybe, maybe I should go back to Japan, and my friend Roy Ono, he was an auto mechanic. He went to school, in the same school where the, they had an auto repair department. He was there and then as soon as he graduated, he says, "George, I'm going back to Japan. There's no future here. Hakujin don't want us here."

DG: Well, especially since your family was a little bit higher level in Japan, right? And here you're treated like...

GF: Dirt. [Laughs] Yeah. So, well, I remember like my family in Japan, we had a little store. People would pass by and say, "Ohayo gozaimasu." I said, "Why they do that?" But that's how much our family was probably respected, maybe they owed us money. I don't know because we used to put everything on the books for them.

DG: So then did you finally get a job?

GF: Over here? No, I worked for a Japanese grocery store and I stayed there for a while, and then I said, "I'm going to open my own business." And my father and mother, they opened a little stand right by, right near the high school, Gresham High School, close by. I said, oh, that's not for me. So I said, "I'm going to go into the grocery business." So I worked for this grocery store, and I thought I learned everything and then the war broke out. So those days for Japanese, it's pretty tough. You're lucky to get a job in a garage maybe sweeping the floors or something like that. That's the reason why my friend, as I mentioned to you, he went back to Japan and that's when the war broke out, I think.

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