Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Toru Sakahara - Kiyo Sakahara Interview II
Narrator: Toru Sakahara, Kiyo Sakahara
Interviewer: Dee Goto
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: February 27, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-storu_g-02

<Begin Segment 1>

DG: I thought we would start kind of recapping a little bit about, you know, the institution of marriage and your dating and courtship. Toru, tell me, do you remember when you first met Kiyo?

TS: Well, I think I first met Kiyo when she was with two of her best friends, Kaz and Mika Hayano and she was a senior at Roosevelt High School. I think we met at one of these young people's conferences or one of these mixers or I don't precisely recall.

DG: Do you remember your first date?

TS: I think I was invited to her graduation dance at Roosevelt High School. I don't know whether I'm correct or not. [Laughs] That was 1937.

DG: And so then. So you knew each other before she came to the University. You were already at the University at that time.

TS: That is correct.

DG: Uh-huh. Well, Kiyo, let's talk a little bit about dating in general and in those days.

KS: Ah, I don't think it was any different than it is today. You met and, and the dance that Toru was talking about, was a dance that my, that my friend graduated high school the same time that I did and she was -- her school, Broadway, was having a dance that night, right after I graduated. When I graduated from Roosevelt, we didn't have a dance right after the graduation exercises, so in my pretty lace gown that I wore to my graduation exercise, I went to this dance with my friend. And I had to bring a date, so I had met Toru oh, a few weeks before and so I asked him if he would like to go to it. And it was very nice. We, dating was like that.

DG: So you had dated quite a bit.

KS: Yes, uh-huh.

DG: In the early '30s.

KS: Yes, uh-huh.

DG: In high school?

KS: Well, I was through high school then, and then in the summer time when I worked -- I worked in a home and for the most part, I lived, the family lived in Whidbey Island. So I was away from Seattle, or away from town and I know I didn't see Toru very much.

DG: But even before you met him, you, you...

KS: Oh yes, yes. There were, there were a lot of dances and picnics and, and roller skating parties and...

DG: Mostly in the Japanese community?

KS: In, most, yes. And it, and different clubs and churches, young people's groups would sponsor all of these dances and... and many times we would just go as a group. We didn't particularly have a special person that we went with, we just all went together and we all danced.

DG: Did you date any Caucasians?

KS: No, we didn't. None of my friends did and not since I left...

DG: Did you think about dating them?

KS: Well, in Seattle, in any, in none of these groups were there any Caucasians. They were all...

DG: But at school?

KS: At school yes, but at school, I was studying and as soon as I got through with my studies I had to go home and work, so... there was little or no social, socials at school that I had a chance to participate in. When I went to Roosevelt, about the only groups that I was able to do anything with was the a cappella choir which I belonged to and the music group that participated in concerts and light opera, something like that.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

DG: So tell me what your thoughts were when you first met Toru.

KS: Oh, when I first met Toru, I thought he was just great. He was one of the first Nisei fellows that could carry on a conversation. We talked about, I'm sure, not just school, but about the goings on in the community and in the United States and in the world and I think we talked about some of the movies that we saw. It was just real interesting talking to him.

DG: Toru, you dated a lot of other women, you said, too. What was special about Kiyo?

TS: Well, boys when -- I was no different from any other boy. We all had our idea of our perfect girlfriend. Had to have good looks, personality, good conversationalist and most of all, know something about household work and... [Laughs] And some money in the family. [Laughs]

DG: Practical, too.

TS: As far as I was concerned, I felt that I met somebody in Kiyo was the perfect girl, except that she didn't have any money. [Laughs] But that was easy to forget.

DG: What was some of the first presents that you exchanged?

TS: Hmm, I brought some strawberries to her when she invited me for dinner, wasn't it?

KS: That's right.

DG: What'd you cook?

KS: Oh, we had steak and artichokes and baked potatoes and avocado and grapefruit salad, and that's the first time he had ever had an avocado with grapefruit salad and/or an artichoke.

DG: This is at the home where you were working?

KS: Where I was working. It was a wonderful dinner.

DG: Did you have a car?

KS: Yes.

TS: I had my dad's car. [Laughs]

DG: You had it a lot or...?

TS: Well, I had permission to use the car for dating and it was nothing for me to drive from Fife to Seattle and back. Usually I got home about two or three o'clock in the morning.

DG: So did you, did you use a telephone a lot?

TS: Not very much that I can remember.

KS: No, very little I would say 'cause telephone calls cost money, too. Wrote letters in the summer when...

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

<Begin Segment 3>

DG: So tell me about your getting engaged.

KS: Oh, that was quite a few years later. We had... see Toru was out of school right after I started school. He, he wasn't at the University. I didn't start really going around with him until the following year when he did go to school. He had to stay out for a year. His family's farm must have had a few reverses that year and he stayed out of school for one year.

DG: So you were going together then?

KS: Not really, no, no. I think he was going around with somebody else at that time. But then when he went, came back and started school again, we started going. And, and like I mentioned before, there, our Fuyokai group at the University was essentially a social group, and so we would sponsor a mixer where boys and girls all got together and there'd be some refreshments and there'd be some music and most of the people danced and others just sat and talked and it was just a time to get together.

DG: Did you hold hands in public?

KS: Oh, I'm sure we did. [Laughs] I'm sure, because...

DG: I thought a lot of Japanese were shy about that kind of stuff.

KS: Oh, no. I don't, I can't say we were shy. [Laughs] Yeah, very much in love.

DG: You were telling me the process of the, the engagement.

KS: Oh, I, I really, I should remember exactly when it was that Toru asked me to marry him, but I know it was in the summer time when he came to see me. And he had a, a little package in his pocket and he took it out and there it was. A little, it was a ring with -- I shouldn't say a little diamond, but it was the most beautiful diamond you ever saw. [Laughs] That was when we became engaged and we told both of our parents about it and so... it wasn't necessary, but I think the parental group felt a need. There was a custom in the Japanese community where the girl's parents choose an outside couple to act as a sort of a...

TS: Go-between.

KS: Go-between. And that was, that was exactly the terminology that was used. I never could quite figure out what that "go-between" means. It meant that one went to the other. I don't know. Anyway.

TS: Baishakunin.

KS: Baishakunin. Maybe that's the equivalent. But my mother asked Mr. and Mrs. Seto who were, whom she had known for oh, at least (20) years prior. And to be representatives for her and Toru's father had Mr. and Mrs. Semba who were also very good friends of Toru's family for many, many years. And they were both Tacoma people so they both knew each other, and when that was settled Toru's father arranged a dinner party at the, at a restaurant called Gyokko Ken and there was about oh, twenty-five or so people who were invited and they were, those in my family that could come, and those in Toru's family that could come and, and Mr. and Mrs. Seto and Mr. and Mrs. Semba. And so that was our formal engagement. And I think that something like that happened amongst most Nisei couples. As far as I was concerned, in Fuyokai, we had a little so-called custom, and it was borrowed from the sororities on campus. The engaged girl goes and buys a large box of chocolates and runs around the table and everybody gets a piece of candy. So those were some of the little things that we did when we were engaged.

DG: This was, so, the summer of '41?

KS: Yes. Summer and fall of '41.

DG: And you went back to school.

KS: Yes.

DG: And then you went into law school.

KS: Yes, he was in law school at that time.

TS: Third year of law school.

DG: Oh, third year of law school. Okay, and then?

KS: And we were planning to get married when he finished law school and by then I would have graduated. That was my last year in the University and I would have graduated. I knew I had a job waiting for me when I finished. Standard Oil in California (had) a cracking plant and my name was there for a job when I finished school. But you see, this was in December of '41.

TS: And I had, my graduation date was June of '42. Because of the evacuation, my law school graduation was extended to 1944, June.


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

<Begin Segment 4>

DG: So now you were newlyweds and you were in Puyallup and...

KS: Yes.

DG: What were you...

TS: Well maybe I could relate an incident that happened in camp. I was appointed what they called Judge Advocate in Area B of the Puyallup Assembly Center where we were staying and there was a man from Seattle by the name of Kay Takayoshi, who was appointed Police Chief in there, in our area. And one day he came to me with a handful of wallets, and he threw them on my table and I asked him, "What's all that?" and he says, "I raided a dice game last night." And those wallets were stuffed with (currency) so they were all straight, and you couldn't even bend them. I asked Kay, "Well what am I supposed to do about this." And he says it's not my job, my job's to keep control of gambling. So I checked with Clarence Arai, who was Chief Judge Advocate for the entire Assembly Center and he said, "Well, it's up to you." I finally decided to have what might be called a informal hearing. I had Takayoshi come in and tell me what happened and when and where, and each of the people involved told me that such and such was their wallet. So finally I said, "Well, I don't know what authority I have, or the boundaries of my authority." So I told them, "As far as I'm concerned, you can have, all have your wallets back provided that you donate $5 or $10 each for purchase of athletic equipment for our area." And that's (why) we were able to buy basketballs and things like that for the people in our area. That was a very interesting experience.

DG: That's pretty good.

TS: And some of those fellows who were involved still talk to me about it. [Laughs]

DG: Well tell, tell me what you thought when you, when he first brought the wallets to you. You were telling me...

TS: Well, I really didn't know what... I was shocked. [Laughs]

DG: You didn't mind even doing a little gambling yourself? [Laughs]

TS: Well, as a matter of fact, I was, we, we played poker and, and I was wondering how come Kay's coming in with... [Laughs] But I guess dice was bigger and faster game than poker. It involved a lot more money.

DG: So, what else did people do to occupy their time?

TS: Oh, there was very little bridge that I recall.

KS: Some that we played.

TS: Pinochle.

DG: Was there drinking?

KS: No.

TS: Very, very little. I never.

KS: Well no, they didn't, it wasn't... you couldn't purchase it either.

DG: People didn't have to sneak in...?

KS: Well, if they did, it was very discreetly. I never saw any liquor. And, but most of us got together. We played a little bridge. We played oh, pinochle, many card games. And thanks to the athletic equipment that Toru was able to get from... and, you know, everybody enjoyed that. There was a badminton set, tennis racquets, tennis balls, 'cause the net that we used for, could be, could be used for both. And softball. It was really nice because the young people just... you know, we were only allowed to bring what would go in a duffel bag and most people forgot to put things like that in their duffel bag or just didn't...

TS: Well the government didn't provide any monies for that.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

DG: Tell me a little bit more about the Judge Advocate office. Did you have any other things that you worked with?

TS: There was no, no regulations, no instructions, so I had to go by guess and by gosh.

DG: Were there any other incidents that you had to arbitrate?

TS: No, no.

DG: Were you called upon to do anything?

TS: No.

KS: Once we raised the flag, remember?

TS: Well, we did organize the bugle call for raising and lowering the flag, and one of the things that we noticed was that each time the flag was raised or lowered the sentry came erect and standing at attention. After we left Hunt to go to school, on the campus. They raised and lowered the flag every morning and every evening. And I had gotten so used to stopping and standing at attention I automatically did so. But I noticed that nobody paid any attention on the Utah University campus, so I quit doing that. [Laughs] So it just goes to show you what your immediate area of attention does to your activities and your attitudes.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

DG: Okay, so how long were you at the assembly center in Puyallup?

KS: Two months.

TS: Ah, from May.

KS: May till the first of August.

TS: The first of August, yeah.

DG: You were one of the first ones to go to...?

TS: To Hunt.

DG: Hunt?

TS: That's area 14? Block 14.

KS: Block 14.

TS: And uh...

KS: One of the first trains that went. There was a whole trainload that went.

TS: To a large barracks room.

DG: So you had a lot of free time, time to get to know each other.

KS: Correct.

TS: Well, we spent a lot of time making furniture.

DG: Really?

TS: Raiding the...

KS: This was after we got to Hunt.

TS: Hunt lumber pile and dining room, dining room kitchens where they had supplies of nails and sneak in there at night to appropriate.

KS: Well these barracks that we moved into, you have to remember, they were bare. Absolutely. It was just walls and cots and a little pot bellied stove and that's all you got. There were no shelves to put anything. No chairs to sit on. If there... just about everybody that has been in camp eventually had homemade chairs, homemade tables, homemade shelves. The people who may never have made any furniture before they went into camp, became real artisans at making furniture, because none of that was provided and like Toru says, the lumber and nails had to be appropriated. I don't think they felt they were stealing. They were just using what was there because they needed it. And this is when we first went into camp.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

KS: We went in the first of August and by the third week in August, very good friends of ours were -- these were a Caucasian couple who felt very strongly about all of us who had to leave school and not be able to continue school -- worked very hard in trying to get us out of camp so we could get into school and make the fall quarter. See, this was August and school starts in September. So if they were gonna get us out, they had to get us out, you know, the first part of September. And when I say they were good friends, they were the people that we bought our home on Ravenna Boulevard from (after WW II).

DG: Oh.

KS: Bob and Helen O'Brien. And they.

DG: Were they working with a group at that time?

KS: Yes, they were working with a committee that ultimately became the Student Relocation...

DG: Was that the Friends?

KS: They worked with the Friends. And it became a, a regular agency of its own, just helping students that were in camp to relocate to different universities all over. But since they were friends of ours, we were the first two that got out of camp to go (when) we were accepted at the University of Utah.

DG: Did you think of going anyplace else at all?

KS: Well, we were also accepted at, Toru was accepted at Cornell and I was accepted at...

TS: Columbia.

KS: Oh, Columbia? And I was accepted at the Barnard School for Women. But that was in New York and we only had about three or $400 to our name and that wouldn't even get us to New York, let alone go to school there. But the money that we had, we thought might pay for tuition and train fare to Utah because that was close. So we got down to Utah and we were going to register for classes. I thought maybe I could go, too. I was pregnant at the time, so I thought maybe I could go to autumn quarter and then after I had the baby, maybe summer quarter and get my degree. But when we went to register, we found out we had to pay out of state tuition and the money that we had would only pay for Toru's tuition and not my tuition. [Laughs] So there went my dreams for finishing college. But we got Toru registered and we were living in a little hotel in Salt Lake City that was... and going out to eat and we were wondering how we were going to manage our money because it wasn't very much.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

DG: How'd you find the hotel in the first place?

KS: Oh, a hotel was easy to find. As soon as we got off the train, we just went to the first little hotel.

DG: Oh, so these friends didn't find places for you.

KS: Oh no, no, no, no. There, there was nothing organized to... I think later on they, the organization arranged train fare for, or bus fare for, students to get out of camp and many of them got help from various groups to pay for tuition. But that all happened I think, oh at least a half a year or a year after we got out of camp. And we were so happy to get, for Toru to get to go back to school, that we just made the best we could and fortunately the registrar at the University of Utah had a young friend that had just built a house up on the hill and he had two children and his wife was also pregnant and needed help. And they said, they had a room and a bath. And so I said well I'd just be happy to go and help there if we could just get a place to live. So we both moved up to this lovely, brand new home up on the hill and I took care of two little girls and a pregnant woman and I was quite pregnant myself, but I was young and healthy and we became very good friends. Toru was able to go to the University and, and he can tell you how hard he had to struggle to find, find his required classes.

DG: You want to go ahead and tell us about that?

TS: Well, at that time the University of Utah Law School had only about an average of six to ten law school students in each class. And consequently their curriculum of subjects that they offered each quarter or each semester was very limited so I was able to take classes for credit only for one or two subjects, and maybe take or go to one other class, just not for credit. And consequently my graduation date was extended. It was, the law school was only just down the hill, about a mile from the place where we were living and the University. So it was real nice and I think we stayed there until after David, our first child, was born. And then I got a job at the Colonial Hotel as a night clerk and that job furnished us with a apartment. Night clerking from midnight to 6:30 in the morning, and I attended law school in the morning and came home after lunch hour and spent some time with the family and tried to sleep from three or four o'clock to eleven o'clock to go back to work. But it was nice, because a night clerk job involved my cleaning the floor every night of the lobby and just making the rounds of the floors of the hotel periodically during the evening, and also to study on the job. So it worked out quite nice.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

DG: You said there was quite a community of Japanese.

TS: Uh, there was. And there was church, JACL and the JACL national headquarters was located in Salt Lake City at that time too.

DG: And so was JACL active then?

TS: There was a local chapter that was active and also the National Headquarters was very active. And there's a local Japanese community church. I think the minister of that church at that time was a Presbyterian Minister, but it was a community church.

DG: Did you, did you find any problems being Japanese?

KS: No, no, they... Utah is a Mormon country and the Mormons are very, very friendly and we were welcomed with open arms. I can't say enough about the wonderful friends that we made in Salt Lake City. We made both Japanese and Caucasian friends and one of the very good friends that we made there were Doctor and Helen Kurumada and they were (a) very unusual couple that lived in Salt Lake City. They were very active in the Junior Chamber of Commerce and he belonged to a golf club and several other community things. So they, they introduced us to this world of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, a service group and it was in the Salt Lake City proper. It was not just among the Japanese people.

DG: Now he was a, was he a medical doctor?

KS: He was a dentist.

DG: And he had his practice established there?

KS: He was in Salt Lake City.

DG: Before the war.

KS: Yes.

TS: Yeah, he's native.

KS: Yes, he lived there. He had his practice there for quite a long time and I mentioned this Junior Chamber of Commerce. I think Toru belonged to it. He didn't have too much time to be active himself. I think he went to meetings and things, but the women had a very strong auxiliary that had meetings every single month and they took on many different kind of service projects in the city and it was an altogether new life for me.

DG: Well, like what kind of service projects?

KS: Umm, it was in, they had a daycare that they used to go and, and make little clothes for the children. They had...

DG: These are hakujin people?

KS: These are all hakujin people and they would have bake sales and things like that. Since I had a little boy of my own, I didn't have too much time to do that kind of thing, but I, I was telling the ladies that you know, what you don't have, and I'm a new member, so I would be happy to work on it, is a roster. And so this, "Well yeah, Kiyo, you could just take care of the roster." So, I became active right away. I didn't type myself, just only barely, but I was able to put together a roster and have it mimeographed and, and we folded it and stapled it and so it was my introduction to a community service kind of thing. It was new and I enjoyed it and I have to thank the wonderful people in Salt Lake who were friendly and took me in right away and certainly it helped me when I moved to Seattle.


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

<Begin Segment 10>

DG: Okay, let's go ahead now and talk more about Salt Lake and...

TS: Well just one thing that I might mention. I used to go into see the Dean of the Law School every once in a while, just to shoot the breeze. And I can recall that he was a bald headed, tall Yankee with a very heavy (Irish) accent and he would say, "Sakahara, did you ever think that you are a minority of minorities. Because if you are not a Mormon," he says, "you're nothin.'" [Laughs] "Just like I am," he says. So that's my first exposure to this sort of thing because the Dean of the Law School was a very learned man, but he was very conscious of the fact that Salt Lake City was the center of Mormon religious activity and he was a (Catholic) minority in that sense. During the time that I was in school, I could remember many, many times I was on duty as a night clerk in the hotel where we lived and people would, men would drop in, some people I knew, some people I did not know. But most of them said they had a hard time finding a place to stay, so I told them, "Well, I got a sofa bed in the living room, you're welcome to stay." And many times Kiyo would wake up on the morning to find some stranger in (the sofa) bed. [Laughs] She'd feed them breakfast and we thought nothing of it. But I think it was one of the most fortunate things that we were able to do, because after we returned to Seattle, so many people, so many men would come into my office and say, "Remember the time that I had no place to stay in Salt Lake and I slept in your living room and had breakfast." And I had forgotten, but people just don't forget those things I guess. So it's one of the fortunate things that happened in our lifetime, to help with my law practice, I would say.

KS: Well, they slept on our studio couch because all the rooms were full. That's why he could study at night. He didn't have to check anybody in or anything like that. The housing in war times was very, very difficult, and Salt Lake more than ever, because so many people came through Salt Lake on their way to someplace else.

DG: Caucasians too?

KS: Caucasians too, but. Most of the Niseis came through there. Heart Mountain was not very far away and there was Topaz, isn't there? There was, that was in the salt flats. And then the people from Minidoka, they'd come through Salt Lake in order to... if they were going to Mississippi, you know, on the way to Camp Shelby, they had to go, or coming from Camp Shelby up to Minidoka to see their family, they...

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

<Begin Segment 11>

DG: Well could, could the Japanese stay in any of the hotels? I mean, was there discriminatory practices at all?

KS: Well.

TS: I don't think there was, but I think the natural tendency was for them to, if they get turned down at, because the place was, they were told that they were full...

KS: Full.

TS: ...whether it was, was or was not, they naturally gravitated towards Japanese operated hotels.

DG: Was this a Japanese operated hotel?

KS: Yes.

TS: That's right.

DG: Somebody had owned it from long before?

KS: No.

TS: The place where we, I had a job was a, operated by a native Salt Lake man, Japanese.

KS: But he had just taken it over a year, that year, because it was very run down and very insect infested. So shortly after we moved in there, he had to seal the whole building and fumigate it. And, to get rid of the (insects).

DG: Were there other Japanese hotels there?

KS: Yes, a few others.

TS: I don't even remember.

KS: I don't know who they were, but...

TS: What the names of them.

DG: I see what you mean by them being full and...

KS: Oh yes.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

DG: You really saw a cross-section of the community.

KS: Yes, we did.

DG: What were the, what were the conversations and attitudes?

KS: Uh...

TS: You mean of the (locals)?

DG: Among the... Yeah, what did you greet each other with, was there worry about the war or was there, you know, where to go, or what were they doing?

KS: Most of them were busy trying to find jobs and hopefully waiting for the day that everybody could return to the West coast, because there was conversation then that eventually the military order will be lifted and that people can return to the West coast. I think there was talk of that when Germany fell. So that would be in early '45 that people could go back to the West coast. Most people were working hard and saving their money for when they could go back to the West coast. Even when we first got there, the conversation of most people was in finding a job, making things work out. So, they, they were not discouraged. I can't think of a single person that was discouraged.

DG: So no one was feeling that they were discriminated and down or anything like that?

KS: No, I don't think so.

DG: They were thinking more in terms of getting on with life?

KS: On with life and, and they, any of them (that) got out of camp and worked some place and...

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

<Begin Segment 13>

DG: Well how did camp impact your life?

KS: Actually we were there such a short time. Except for saying that it was a rather unpleasant necessary experience. It really, I don't think it set us back or discouraged us in any way.

DG: We're talking about the material aspect. You didn't lose a lot.

KS: No. We, before we went into camp, we didn't have very much.

TS: I think as far as we were concerned and as far as most people were concerned, they were living from day to day, and managing to get by some way and wondering how they're gonna get by and manage to get by and after all time does pass, months and years and you wonder how you got by. You even forget how you managed to pay your debts, but we did get through.

DG: But you were, might have been in a position to advise people. Did you recall?

TS: Not that I remember especially.

KS: Not in Salt Lake. He was in school studying. And I did work in Salt Lake. I was fortunate to get a job with the U&I Sugar Company and this was a rather... how should I put it? After Toru finished his schooling, he had to study for the bar exam. And my little son David and I couldn't help him with his studies and it just cost too much to live in Salt Lake so we, David and I went to live with his parents in Idaho and Toru stayed in Salt Lake just to study for the bar exam which was about a month. We left in May and the bar exam...

DG: '45?

KS: In '45? No, '44 it was. Beg your pardon. In '44 and he stayed in Salt Lake to study. I went and took David up to live with his folks and then as soon as Toru took his bar exam, he came up to Idaho also. His folks, his father at that time was the executive for a large company that was growing apples. They must have had about 200 acres of apples.

TS: Six hundred acres.

KS: Six hundred, excuse me.

TS: Of apples and pears.

DG: Where, where?

KS: In Idaho, Mesa, Idaho.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

KS: And while we were staying there with his family, waiting for it to be, the results of Toru's bar exam, a friend of mine who was working for the U&I Sugar Company called me up and asked me if I would be interested in a job at their quality control lab. And I said why I certainly would, I just -- not doing anything up there. And so I left Toru and David with his folks and went back down to Salt Lake and I stayed with friends of mine and worked for the U&I Sugar Company and I was part of the quality control lab. At that time, you know, people ate a lot of beet sugar, because cane sugar was imported and (during) the war time, sugar was rationed really, and so the work for the U&I Sugar Company at that time was very important and it was interesting. I was paid well and we were able to get out of debt. Toru had borrowed some money from the JACL Credit Union in order to finish his studies and take the bar exam and all that. So the U&I Sugar Company helped get us out of debt.

DG: So that was '44.

KS: That was in '44.

DG: From '44.

KS: '44 til '45. Through '45.

TS: She used to mail me a package of cigarettes every day. [Laughs]

KS: Oh, no, no, every week Toru. They were rationed too. They were rationed.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

DG: Let's follow your, your father's... go back.

KS: Oh, yes.

DG: He was in Missoula the last time we talked about him.

TS: Well he was released from Missoula in, I believe, May of 1942 while we were still in Puyallup. So he was one of the earliest internees to be released out of Montana, and he joined us there at the Puyallup Assembly Center. And he was transferred with my mother at the same time in September of, early September of 1942, to Hunt, Idaho.

DG: And then he stayed in camp some in Hunt.

KS: Uh-huh.

TS: Then he was released to go to work in Utah, Springfield I think.

KS: No, he went to that Mesa, Mesa orchard.

TS: Oh, yeah.

KS: Directly.

TS: Then he was...

KS: Directly.

TS: Then he went to the apple orchard then he transferred on his own to Spring, Springfield, Utah.

KS: But he was, he got this job, I'm sure, because of his past experience with shipping produce and stuff. Because this big apple orchard that hired him, they had lots of fruit that had to be boxed and loaded on trains and shipped all over the United States and I'm sure that that was the reason why he was (hired), and furthermore...

DG: I wonder how he found the job or how they found him?

TS: I don't...

KS: Now that I don't know.

TS: I never knew.

KS: No, he never said, he never told us. But I think, knowing his father, he probably asked around, too. He was active and he probably talked to many people and, and...

DG: Did he provide some of the leadership in camp?

KS: I think so, because the fact that he knew lots of people and, that also was important. Orchard needs hundreds of workers and he was able to recruit a really wonderful crew to go up to Mesa and work in these orchards. So, that was quite a job for him and, and I must say, we're forever thankful because his father helped us while we were in Salt Lake and helped Toru with his education.

DG: And the rest of your brothers and sisters were all in camp with your parents.

KS: Yes.

DG: So did they all leave too, or did they go on their jobs?

KS: They, they went on their own, most of them. His sister married and went with a group from Portland to a different town. Eventually, she ended up in Minidoka too with her family. His brother, one of them went into the army, the other one worked on a farm in Montana and his youngest sister was still in school, so she stayed with the family and she went to Mesa, Idaho with them.

DG: And your family.

KS: My mother, two sisters and a brother were evacuated from Kingston to Pinedale and from Pinedale they went to Tule Lake, and from Tule Lake I think ultimately they moved up to Minidoka. And so they lived there until about 1944, when my younger sister came into Salt Lake and she stayed with me and went to high school in Salt Lake. My younger brother, I think he volunteered for the army and went into the army. My other sister got married and she went to Chicago and my mother sort of took turns living with all the rest of us. She would live with me for a while and then with my other sister and with my brother and so they eventually left camp and settled elsewhere.

DG: You were never were involved in the loyalty questionnaire.

KS: No.

TS: No.

KS: No. That, that all happened after we left camp.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

DG: So, let's move on then, you came back to Seattle when?

KS: In 1945. Toru came back to Seattle.

DG: What month was that?

KS: (August).

DG: So before the war ended.

KS: Yes. I think the, it had to be after Japan surrendered.

TS: I think the war ended in August, didn't it?

KS: So was it in Aug, yes, maybe it was in August that you came to Seattle.

TS: Well I stayed with the Itois. No, I stayed with the Itois, and then when you were able to come, you came to join me at James Hotel.

KS: That's right.

TS: Where we had a one-room apartment, for I think about $25 or $30 a month.

DG: So, tell me a little bit about coming back to Seattle. The atmosphere that you faced, or did you have any problems finding a place or?

TS: Well, we just lived in James Hotel for a while and then one of our friends...

DG: That's right downtown?

TS: Sixth and James. And then we moved to the, oh, it's Eddie Otsuka's.

KS: The Kenyon Apartments.

TS: Kenyon Apartments up on the hill next to the Yesler housing project.

KS: But housing was almost impossible. Very difficult to find if you... most...

TS: You had to have friends to.

KS: And if you didn't, landlords would take money from you for just even letting you look at a place, let alone getting the place. And I say we were fortunate to have friends who had a apartment house and we were able to get an apartment with a stipulation that I paint it and wallpaper it and clean it up with no pay, not even a reduction in the first month's rent. So, things were very tight.

DG: You left your job at the U&I Sugar Company?

KS: Yes, yes. Well, no. The Sugar Company only ran until about February or March. 'Cause the Sugar Company, I mean the sugar plants only processed the sugar beets and it was a seasonal job. It started about in, I think September and lasted 'til about the end of February.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

DG: So where were you then when you came to join him?

KS: I was sort of helping operate a restaurant for about three or four months.

DG: Where?

KS: In Salt Lake City.

DG: Was David with you then?

KS: Yes. The restaurant was a rather interesting endeavor because Toru was supposed to go into the army and he didn't know how David and I were going to survive on a private's pay. So he arranged with a person that had a restaurant to let me operate it and pay him rent for the operation. And then Toru went into the army and after being at Ft. Douglas for a week, they decided well, they were hard up, but not that hard up and sent him home again. [Laughs] So he never made the army. This was in June and I operated the restaurant May, June and July and by that (time) after we had had the restaurant for a couple of months, Toru the military order excluding us from the West coast was lifted; (then) Toru spent the last two weeks in July trying to get out of that contract that he got me into and the people that owned the restaurant in the meantime had two or three months of vacation time, so they were happy to take it back. They didn't penalize us for giving it up. Since Toru got me out of that, he came back up to Seattle (there was) no place for him to live. He had to stay with friends. And I don't think he got a room there. You just slept on the couch or on the floor, didn't ya?

TS: Where's this?

KS: At Itoi's.

TS: Oh, there was a bed.

KS: And there was a bed. I never did see where he stayed.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

DG: I wanted you to tell that story about coming back then, from Idaho, you went, you were not served at a restaurant?

KS: Oh, this was when we first left camp.

DG: Oh, is that right?

KS: This is when we first left camp and we were going to the University and we were waiting to get on the, I think there's a bus from Weiser to Caldwell, and from Caldwell there's a train to Salt Lake and while we were waiting for the bus in Weiser.

DG: It's backwards because Minidoka's closer to south, Salt Lake for me.

KS: Uh-huh.

DG: So I thought...

KS: Well...

DG: Well, so go ahead...

KS: But, but, it was on our way to Salt Lake City that, that we thought we would have some lunch in Weiser before we got on the train and this waiter looked at Toru and said, "What are you?" And Toru said, "I'm Japanese American." "I'm sorry I don't serve, I can't serve you." And so we just said thank you and left. But it's the only time we were ever refused service. But this was kind of startling. Well no, not startling, can't say that. We sort of expected it when we first came out of camp.

DG: So then coming back to Seattle now...

KS: Coming back to Seattle there was nothing like that. It was just hard to find housing. I don't think it was that hard to find work. Toru...

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

<Begin Segment 19>

DG: What did you do when you first came back?

KS: Went into insurance.

TS: Yeah I...

KS: You went to see somebody at Occidental and Aetna.

TS: There was...

KS: Who referred you to that?

TS: I was a member of the Utah bar, but I had not served as a lawyer in the state of Utah for five years. Consequently I had to wait one year to get...

KS: Establish residence.

TS: Get my residence in the State of Washington to take the bar examination and I had to take it over again. So I figured that if I got a job eight hours a day in one place, I'd never get to meet people, so I thought well, if I could find insurance agent's job I could be, meet people and have an excuse to see strangers and meet them, so I don't remember how I heard about George Rourke, who had a general insurance agency, and got a agent's, sub-agent's position with his office and I somehow found an Occidental Life Insurance was looking for an agent and so I got an agent's, agency position with Occidental, then having agency position in both life and casualty, I, I got an office in the Jackson building on 6th and Jackson. And it provided a good living for us.

DG: Well a lot of the things that you chose, so you... you were pretty focused on what you wanted to do in your life then.

TS: Well, I think so, because... come to think of it, I had to do a lot of thinking, but a lot of these decisions were just forced upon me. [Laughs] No other decisions to make. [Laughs] And fortunately, circumstances were such that it was the right decision.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

DG: You told me a story about, was it a Mr. Takagi, who gave you advice.

TS: Well, while we were living in Salt Lake, we had all kinds of guests and friends of the family that looked us up and stayed with us, lived with us, some of them for several weeks or months. One of them was a Mr. Takagi, an old friend of my folks. And when I was preparing to leave Salt Lake and just mentioned it to Mr. Takagi, who was then guest of ours, I can remember one of the things that he told me was, was that, "Oh, you're going to Seattle." He says, "I've been (a long) time Seattle resident myself before, from before the war." He says, "You better watch yourself because Seattle is a very difficult community to establish yourself." In Japanese he says muzukashii, which means very difficult. And I never forgot it.

DG: Well what did he mean by muzukashii?

TS: In other words that you have to be careful what you say or what you do and had to sell yourself.

DG: And why do you have to be careful?

TS: Because people would be very critical. Quick to criticize, and...

KS: And long memories. [Laughs]

DG: Was there a political atmosphere that...

TS: Well as I understood, stand it, the Japanese Association used to have conflicts, political conflicts I their elections and he used to tell me about annual elections during which there was a white (or) shiro group and aka group, that's a red group, competing for leadership in the Japanese Association. And it was, I however, did not run into that, that sort of thing after I returned to, to the Seattle, but I, I do remember that he (talked about it).

DG: Do you know anything about the characteristics of the white group?

TS: Not, nothing except there was apparently some competitive shenanigans like you hear about unions, in competing unions in the union history.

DG: Did it have to do with businesses, or social climate or?

TS: It was a competition for leadership in the Japanese Association.

DG: Right, right. So nothing to do with gangster kind of things.

TS: No, no.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

DG: Any hint as to what made a aka group or you know, shiro group?

TS: No.

KS: Didn't hear about them after we came back to Seattle.

DG: What is your guess?

TS: Well, the only thing that I heard later was of some gangster or criminal activities in the Japanese community was with reference to prostitution, gambling, daylight murders and community activities to stop that type of thing. And I know my father casually mentioned that in Fife and Tacoma there was a organization of Issei who got together and raised some money to hire a special prosecutor to prosecute some gambler in the Tacoma area who was guilty of murder in some pool hall or something like that. But it was all very casually mentioned.

KS: It never made the papers or anything like that.

TS: No. So there was apparently a history of off color activities in the Issei community, that Issei tried to deal with on their own unofficially and off the record. But there was definitely a strong effort to maintain order in the community and to protect the reputation of the Japanese people.

DG: Was this the only person...

TS: That happened in every community I think in Tacoma and...

DG: But there was gambling around, right?

TS: Oh yes.

DG: Quite a bit.

TS: And as late as 1950s I heard references to wealthy families whose reputed beginnings were related to dope, gambling, prostitution and now they were very highly respected members of the community, but nobody ever prosecuted them or it's just sub rosa, but I never did find out in detail what they actually were guilty of doing, or people just casually referred to them. I remember during my practice, a couple of Issei men got into a fight in a office downtown near the office that I had at that time in the Rainier Heat and Power building. My client was, before the war, referred to as a pretty rough and tumble ruffian in the community and another man was a very substantial person with no such reputation, but they happened to be in the same office and apparently they had some words which led to more words. And all of a sudden, one of them kicked the other a couple of times in the shins and the other picked up a ashtray and hit the man on the head, and they were separated and pretty soon, apparently it got to be such a big uproar that the man who had a bad reputation prewar had a son who brought his dad in to ask me to represent him. And his dad would sit in the chair, pull up his pants and showed me his bruises to show why he had reason for grabbing a ashtray. But it was getting to be such a problem that I didn't know what to do, and finally after some time I consulted with some leaders in the community, and they said well, I think the thing to do is to ask so and so as a leader on one side and so and so as another leader on the other side and have them negotiate a, a settlement. And after a few weeks, all of a sudden I was told that well, it's all settled. They each shook hands so we're going to have a dinner to celebrate the settlement and I attended the dinner meeting. But this was my first experience with informal settlement of arguments between parties. And it was rather an interesting experience.


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

<Begin Segment 22>

TS: Well, as far as my professional or business practice is concerned as I mentioned I started the office in life and casualty insurance and when I got, I passed my bar examination, I opened an office for practice of law so I was doing both. Then in the meantime my brother Ted came into Seattle and was at loose ends as to what to do and I suggested that he start (in the) insurance business and he took care of the insurance business and split the profits from insurance, which kept me going on the practice of law. And ultimately my brother was able to establish a large following in the insurance business and we decided to separate our business. In other words he took over all insurance business and I kept my office as a law office only. And later on in about 1962, I... shortly before that I had Wing Luke, a Chinese ancestry attorney and member of the City Council do some extra legal work for my office and finally he took a job with the state Attorney General's office and I asked him well, what am I going to do for somebody to help me, and he says I'll find somebody for you, don't worry. And he introduced me to Donna McArthur, who became assistant and later partner. And for about thirty years thereafter, we were associated as partners in the name of Sakahara and McArthur. So for over thirty years I was associated at work with just women and I really don't know why I managed to stay in partnership. It was just one attorney, much less with a woman, but I guess she was pretty patient and forbearing and I had some degree of it, so we managed to stay friends and associates for all the time until I retired in 1991.

DG: So were most of your clients Japanese?

TS: Oh, I would say that 80% were Japanese.

DG: And how many Japanese lawyers were there in town when you first started?

TS: Well, there was just Clarence Arai, who was a prewar Japanese Seattle attorney and the other prewar Japanese attorneys, Kenji Ito stayed in Los Angeles, and Tom Masuda stayed in Chicago, Illinois. So I was the only young buck attorney in Seattle, which was a fortunate circumstance.

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

<Begin Segment 23>

DG: So, can you remember some of your first cases?

TS: Well, I can't really, but I know I was busy.

DG: Dealing with what kinds of things? Wills?

TS: Wills and business transactions involving purchase and sale of businesses, lease problems, attending meetings of the Hotel Association, Japanese Community Service.

DG: So how did you get associated with Hotel Association?

TS: Well I was fortunate because I think, because of my father who knew, was known by leaders of the local Seattle leaders and apparently they, I assume, selected me.

DG: What did you do for them?

TS: Well, mostly in advisory capacity.

DG: So this was a postwar organization?

TS: Ah, the Seattle Japanese Apartment and Hotel Association was a prewar organization which was dormant during the war and became active as people came back. They had as much as 200 members prewar and as much as 350 postwar. And they dealt with problems of sanitation, building inspections, fire department inspections, boiler operator's licenses. They had these practical problems because of language difficulties. As time went by, their children became very active in business, and took over their parents' responsibilities and gradually many of them sold their hotels and apartments and oh, by late...

DG: So this was, this was still a lot of Isseis were a part of this group when you first joined them, right?

TS: That's right. But by...

DG: Were the meetings conducted in Japanese?

TS: As long as the Isseis were active. That... as late as 19, in the '60s, they were conducted by Isseis in Japanese and they were a very lively bunch of guys. At social occasions there was a lot of drinking. At parties especially, a lot of drinking and singing and dancing and it was very enjoyable.

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

<Begin Segment 24>

DG: Were there some personal cases at all that you remember? What did you start to deal with after the war, was there evacuation claims and things like that? Was, was that right away or?

TS: No, that came later. We started to process the evaluation claims and applications for naturalization as a United States citizens.

DG: So when did you first open your office? What year was that?

TS: Well that would be 1945.

DG: So you already passed the bar by then?

KS: '46.

DG: '46.

TS: '46, yeah.

KS: But he opened the office as an insurance office.

DG: Oh, okay. And then so it wasn't until the '50s that you started processing these others.

TS: That's correct.

DG: So they were more just routine personal things.

TS: Nothing earth, earthshaking that I can remember.

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

<Begin Segment 25>

DG: Well let's stop a moment because the other things talk about organizations, you know, that we want to talk about your involvement and some special events and so Kiyo, why don't you tell us about coming back from the war?

KS: When we first came back to Seattle from Salt Lake City, I think it was very fortunate for both of us because Seattle was going into a change in their human relations. The Council of Churches was very active at that time. I think the Council was active with the idea of trying to help the Japanese relocate in Seattle. The whole city seemed to... it wasn't just trying to help the Japanese, the whole city was in the process of change in terms of putting minorities on their boards. Being more aware of peoples of other color and when Toru and I came back, it was right in that sort of climate. And as they were trying to get new members to serve on boards of the United Good Neighbors, the family counseling, like Children's Home Society, the Civic Unity Committee, the... I could name at least half a dozen others like that and they were looking for other peoples to join a board that used to be pure white and you had to almost be part of the 400 to serve on them.

DG: Four hundred?

KS: Four hundred are the original and the leading people in Seattle that not only had leadership, but money and, and they just took turns running everything here in Seattle. So it was a rather interesting time to come into Seattle. I know I served on, I served on several boards. And I remember this family counseling service board that I served on. And amongst them was Travis, Clise and the Caldwells and these lawyers who only were lawyers to the, to the first families of Seattle, and I sat on the board and made policy for the counseling service right along with them. So it was a very interesting experience for me. I got to know what their thinking is. They had to listen to me too.

DG: What were some of the things that you felt you could contribute?

KS: Well I felt that I could contribute how the families felt who were receiving the service. Most boards were top down. "Well this is what's good's for them, so that's what they're going to get." None of them had any inkling of how their service was going to affect the people that they served.

DG: Well how do you think you were picked out to be asked to serve on the board?

KS: Well that's kind of hard to say, except that when I first came back to Seattle, I joined the YWCA again because I had some contact with it when I was in college and they had a group called Cosami, which was a group of young marrieds and we got together and talked about the different problems that the city was facing and then we also had socials. We had potluck dinners and then we'd having dancing parties and I got to know several of the women in that group, but it wasn't...

DG: You know, you had little children then right?

KS: I just had one child, David.

DG: Oh, just one. But you felt a need to join a community organization, or was it a job or?

KS: This was, just wanting to be with, you know, other people and be active in something. I wasn't, I didn't have a job. I didn't work. I used to go down to the office and answer the telephones for Toru and in those days, I would bring David to the Yesler Community Nursery School.

DG: 'Cause that was being very progressive.

KS: Well it, just being, just being down on Jackson Street and, and getting to know people. I, I really don't know how I first got on. But I served on many, many boards. Neighborhood house board and...

DG: Well let's continue with that Cosami thing.

KS: I met quite a few Caucasians that (have) remained very good friends of mine through the years from that group. They were women who also went to the University of Washington and lived in the north end, just got to be good friends with them.

DG: Were you living...

KS: I wasn't living in the north end then, no. I, we had an apartment downtown.

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

<Begin Segment 26>

DG: And then, let's go on then to your forming the Bellamis.

KS: Oh, yes. Well, that, through my YWCA connections there were parents of many young teenage girls that came out of camp and they were quite concerned about their daughters. Their daughters were going, all of a sudden going from an all-Japanese school in camp and they were going to Garfield and West Seattle and Queen Anne and Franklin, and they felt quite lost amongst the young kids in school. Then they may have known each other, but not very well in camp. In camp, depending on the area that you lived in, I don't these Japanese girls. Some of them may have been friends before they came to Seattle, but that didn't help them when they went to high school and they felt like they were out of the... other girls in high school would talk about the parties they went to, and the dances and what they did last week and things like that. And the parents also were struggling to get their own businesses going and they didn't have time to do very much for their girls, but they could see, 'cause the parents had been through this. When they were young, there were mixers and parties and, and all kinds of group activities that they could go to and here, their daughters had nothing. And they could see that their girls were lonesome and needing something. And so, when some of the parents told me about it, then I talked to the people at the YWCA and the YWCA had a program called a Y-Teen Club. And they would form young girls clubs in various high schools and so, they told me to join their Y-Teen department as a, as a person who could help form a Y-Teen group among the Japanese girls. And I said well I could certainly try and do that. So I gathered and with the cooperation of their parents, there must have been about twenty girls at the first. And we talked about what kind of a club we could have. Oh, they were quite enthusiastic. And then we contacted girls from...

DG: What year was this?

KS: This was in 1946, yeah. 1946, the year after. And that was, it would be the fall of '46. So I had already been in Seattle for at least a year and it was that next year that... because all, all those girls were in school for almost more than half a year and that's when they could see that they were missing out on some things. And I would meet with the girls once a week and we would meet at Collins Playfield or sometimes we'd go to the old congregational church, they had room for us when Collins Playfield had a basketball game or something like that going on. And first we just got together and talked about what we wanted to do. And then it would branch out to well, let's get together and have a roller skating party, or let's get together and go on a boat and have a cruise. Well that came quite a bit later, that cost money. But we would go down to the beach together and sometimes we would go to the playfield and they would play baseball, 'cause I remember I would bring my little boy with me and he would go chase after the ball and most of the idea of the Bellami Group was that, and we would talk about setting tables. If we had a dinner party, what would we do? Things, things that maybe the parents didn't have time, or their facilities at home. I'd bring some dishes and a table cloth and things like that and we, we would...

DG: You said that in camp they never learned these things.

KS: No, they didn't.


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

<Begin Segment 27>

DG: Kiyo, let's, let's start again talking about the YWCA group that you helped start called the Bellami Group.

KS: Yes, uh-huh.

DG: And we were talking about some of the activities that.

KS: Yes, don't forget, these girls went to school in camp and, the camp provided food, but the food was in mess halls and if they ate at home, it was on little homemade tables and benches that their fathers must have made for them. So, I remember one time one of the girls said that oh, it would be nice just to learn how to introduce somebody. Mother, this is my friend, Janice. Janice, this is my mother. And little things like that which I think if they weren't in camp, they would have had opportunity to practice and say. It would just be a thing that nobody even thinks about. But in camp, you just assume everybody knows everybody and so the niceties of life just weren't there. And I think the girls felt a need for something like that. And, and for the first three years of Bellami, it was delightful for me to even find out what the girls wanted to know. Things that I just took for granted. It was nice to be able to share, and in the meantime, the girls, many of them developed leadership skills, because I never ran all of the meetings. The girls elected officers and they had committees and they assumed those kind of responsibilities themselves and so. I felt that it was a nice social group. It did get all of the young Japanese girls from different high schools to get to know each other too. And I do know that...

DG: Was there a prewar high school group like that?

KS: No, no, no. No there weren't.

DG: Where did they learn those things prewar then?

KS: Well, I, I think before the war, they must have learned at home.

DG: At churches and...

KS: At churches and our, their home.

DG: of course, the Girl Scouts?

KS: Yeah, they were all, they were Girl Scouts or Bluebirds or something like that and. Because I know that when we were at the... when I, when I got to know the Japanese girls, it was after they went to the University and they certainly knew then because...

DG: Now did these Bellami girls you think went on and maybe formed Valedas?

KS: Well, the core of the girls that formed the Valedas were all girls that were Bellami. When they went to the University, they found there was no (group). Because Fuyokai did not reactivate at the University (after the war). There were a lot of independent groups at the University or, (fraternities) maybe at that time, they still were not welcomed into the sorority life or anything like that, but there, there was no group that they could belong to, so I think that, that they felt a need for some social group that they could, so they formed Valedas.

DG: So did it have its own bylaws?

KS: Yes, yes. I had nothing to do with the...

DG: You were asked to it and you were somewhat opposed to.

KS: Well, I didn't want to reactivate the Fuyokai group and I felt that since I didn't do that, I didn't want to also... and I was busy, I had, I still had the Bellamis.

DG: But you said there was something to do with the, you thought that they should integrate more, too.

KS: Well, I felt that they could. The opportunities were there and certainly, I knew that their parents were able to...

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

<Begin Segment 28>

DG: Okay, let's talk, let's talk about JACL. Okay. And Toru, you joined JACL before the war in Puyallup. Tell me again how that got started.

TS: Well I was a member, but not an officer of the Puyallup Valley Chapter. And I recall being selected as one of the representatives of the Seattle Chapter to attend an emergency meeting of the National JACL in San Francisco after the announcement of exclusion and evacuation orders. And we went down by auto to attend that emergency meeting in San Francisco.

DG: And then so after the war when you came back, how soon did that organization activate?

TS: If you are referring to JACL, those who were interested in JACL talked about reforming or reorganizing the JACL into a Seattle Chapter, and three of us appointed each other, or met with each other and kept the Chapter alive, namely as a organizing committee consisting of Joe Hirabayashi, Mrs. Shigeko Uno and myself. I think this was in 1940s. Later in 1950s, I became Seattle Chapter president.

DG: Well let's, let's, before we go there, let's talk about some of the things that you got involved with SJR 20.

KS: Yeah.

TS: Well, that was a campaign in which the Seattle Chapter took leading role.


TS: The National JACL remained active during and throughout World War II and as people returned to their former residences, they encouraged a reactivation of local chapters. Among those were the Seattle Chapter.

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

<Begin Segment 29>

DG: Were there any special issues that they deal with during the war?

KS: Not that...

TS: Well, not that I recall, but after we came back, we got active in legislation to restore rights to Issei, to naturalize as United States citizens, to participate in evacuation claims for lost property, not in excess of $2,500.

DG: Did you talk to anybody about it when you were in Salt Lake?

TS: No, this was something that was national in scope and we were just kept advised by the national office to support. And it was surprising that the national leadership would carry on these campaigns for national legislation because they used to just issue floods of reports to the chapter presidents, and we would have to make reports as to what our local chapter was doing to support that activity. But in so far as the Washington chapters were concerned, we had one major political campaign and that was to repeal the...

KS: Alien Land Law.

TS: Anti-alien Land Law, which was, which prohibited ownership of land in the state of Washington by aliens in the, and the provision was part of the State Constitution adopted in 1889 in article 2, section 33. The constitutional prohibition was implemented in 1921 by state statute. But in order to get rid of the prohibition against the land ownership, we had to amend the State Constitution. The history of it was that the territorial laws allowed ownership by aliens, but when the Constitution was adopted in 1889, it somehow got slipped into the Constitution, so we had to repeal the law by vote of the citizens.

DG: So did you, did you personally have to find out these details?

TS: We had to do some legislative research and try to get national and...

DG: But to overturn the state one, did you go to Olympia yourself to look at some of this, or...

TS: Well, we actually formed a committee of Northwest Chapters to carry on the general election campaigns. Two of the, two campaigns we lost and in the third campaign in 1966 we finally prevailed.

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

<Begin Segment 30>

DG: But, let's, let's start at the beginning, because you were telling me how you had to use his office and...

KS: Oh yeah.

DG: When you were involved.

KS: Oh yeah.

DG: What, what was going on?

KS: Actually the, in order to conduct these campaigns, there had to be literature that gets mailed to any and all citizenry. The whole state voted on it, and in order to inform the public of the law that we wanted to repeal, people had to know about it. And the JACL couldn't mail these, it was a political activity so... we brought all the flyers and literature to Toru's office and we had a committee that folded the pamphlets and put them in envelopes and mailed them. There were days when that's all we did in order to get the information out to the citizenry. I think it helped because in the first two campaigns we relied on a lot of newspaper and organization.

TS: Radio.

KS: Radio, we didn't have TV then.

DG: And it failed twice.

KS: And it failed twice because it didn't get to the people who actually voted.

DG: This is in what year are we talking about?

KS: '60...

TS: Two.

KS: '62.

DG: As late as.

TS: '64 and '66.

KS: And so it was.

DG: When you had started on, working on it when though?

TS: Oh.

KS: The first one was '60. '60 was it?

TS: '62.

KS: Was it?

TS: First.

KS: First election.

TS: Yeah, election.

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

<Begin Segment 31>

DG: Well you said that you, you were out of town a lot speaking and what not. What did you?

TS: Well, I didn't mean to infer that I was, that active speaking and so forth and so on, just carrying on activities like contacting different people and agitating and so forth and so on.

DG: So did you get involved because you were the president earlier and knew about all these, or did you...

TS: It was a, a part of a national effort to repeal anti-alien ownership lands. But in every other state, they didn't have too much of a problem because it only meant contacting legislatures to enact state statute laws to repeal these anti-alien ownership laws. But in the state of Washington, it was a part of the Constitution, which had to enacted by the vote, in a general election by the people. So that's what made the repeal campaign in Washington so difficult.

DG: So you had to raise money too?

TS: To raise.

KS: Yes we did, we had to raise.

DG: How much money?

TS: Surprisingly.

KS: Very little. [Laughs]

TS: For a state campaign as I recall it, we never did have a campaign schedule or goal of more than $35,000 for conducting the campaign in either, of any of those three. But it's remarkable how the...

DG: But all three campaigns combined was $100,000, right.

TS: That's, at least.

DG: Right, so where'd you get the money?

KS: Well it was raised each time. We had quite a few influential Seattle citizens who supported this and they were, they were able to get some money. You know, remember the, Mrs. (Henry) Owens and, it was... I know that during those years, many of us couldn't afford too much more than token money and our time, but we had this young fellow, his name is Tak Kubota, who at that time was, knew quite a few legislators. He lived in the south end. In fact, his father is the one that built Kubota Gardens. And at that time he was very politically active. And he didn't go around making speeches for the Alien Land Law repeal, but he, just the fact that he knew quite a few of the people in the political world, that helped, too. It got information into quite a few areas. So, the third time it went on the ballot more people knew about it and more people voted.

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

<Begin Segment 32>

DG: So then after you joined JACL in the '40s, I mean you reactivated it. There wasn't a lot going on until that happened?

KS: I would say... well, there was the evacuation claims that needed to be...

DG: Was there some activity there?

KS: I think that JACL is the ones that provided the office space for people to come and get their forms and get them processed and...

DG: And you were president in what year?

KS: '57?

TS: Well I had that joint committee in late '40s, as Chapter President sometime in '57, as Northwest District Council Chairman in '62. That was a two year term. National vice, second vice president in...

KS: That was in '61.

TS: In '62.

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

<Begin Segment 33>

DG: Just for fun, let's tell about that story about going to the national convention.

KS: Oh, you mean, oh. We were, the '62 convention was to be held in Salt Lake City and we were quite excited about going. Toru was the chosen the official delegate from Seattle to go to the convention and we all got in our car, and we had been doing quite a bit of camping in those days and so we had a lot of camping gear and just before we got to Ontario the children...

TS: Oregon.

KS: Oh yeah, it was in Oregon. They were hungry and we were driving through a stretch of country road that had, we hadn't seen a restaurant for miles, so I told Toru let's stop, pull over and I've got some food in the ice chest and we've got our camp stove, why don't I fix a bite to eat, because it'll still be another hour or so before we get to Ontario, you know, until we can get to a restaurant. And so he stopped at the side of the road and it was hot, that was part of it. It was just very hot. It must have been 108 degrees at that time. We had got our camp stove out and fixed the food and we were just getting ready to button the whole thing up and pack up and leave. (Then) in order to close the camp stove, I think the pressure had to be released. And so as soon as the pressure was released, some gas spurted out and it was still so hot that it just...

TS: That was a Coleman gas stove.

KS: Yeah, and it just exploded. The whole tank didn't explode, but all the gas fumes burned right in my face and so, I was burned very badly and I know my son who was fifteen years old at that time, he knocked me over and rolled over me to turn the fire off my clothes. And Toru picked up this Coleman stove, he didn't want it to blow up in the back of our car and he threw it off in the sage brush and that burned his hand, because the stove was hot. And he still had to drive. Got me in the car after they put the fire out on me and we went to Ontario and found the hospital. When I got in the hospital and they found I was burned, they called, well, they knew I was Japanese (so) they called a Japanese doctor in Ontario and his name was Dr. Tanaka. He took care of me and gave me a jar of salve and he says, "Don't let anybody put anything else on you. Just put that on there and put clean bandages on and you'll just be fine." And it was hard to believe.

DG: You said that was some kind of home remedy...

KS: It, it was...

DG: That he had put together.

KS: I don't know whether it was home remedy or not. He says he uses it on all his burn victims and he gets quite a few of these out in the country. So he said you use that and you'll just be fine. So I was, and another thing that was amazing, this happened in the evening. So I spent the night in the hospital and the next morning there must have been four or five Ontario Japanese people who came to see me. I didn't know them personally, but when they heard that somebody got burned and was in the hospital, they were there just, just being so friendly and trying to help. And one of them was a young fellow named Joe Saito. He and his wife were going to go down to the Salt Lake convention, and the farm kept him busy so he didn't have time to drive down, so he had bought two plane tickets to go to the convention and he gave me his plane ticket and his wife Nellie took care, April was a baby at that time, so that was the nicest thing that he did for me. He put me on the plane in his place and Nellie took care of April and he drove to Salt Lake with Toru and the other two children. I stayed in Salt Lake with friends, the Kurumadas for two weeks instead of one week. And by that time the dry, warm air, it just, it did wonders. The burns healed and by the time I was ready to go home, they weren't well, but they were tolerable so I could get home.

TS: Well, if I might interject something. Kiyo ended up without any scarring of face or body and we managed to obtain additional supplies of this salve from Dr. Tanaka and had used, have used that that salve for thirty or thirty-five years afterwards. We lost contact with Dr. Tanaka, but I understand he died in and he's succeeded by his son. But that's one side light. And the other is that while I had put my wife, Kiyo, in the hospital, I told her that that would get a motel room and put our kids in the motel and come back to see her. Well by the time I had completed doing that, which probably took forty-five minutes or an hour, I was stunned to find George Iseri of Ontario and my cousin, Yoshikazu Sakahara and Joe Saito there and I asked them, "How in the heck did you find out about us?" It's just ways of getting the news around. [Laughs] But the unfortunate circumstance gave us a chance to renew or get together with people that've remained friends of ours for lifetime. So it was a blessing as well as a misfortune.

DG: So it was kind of a side light on things that you went through in getting to conventions.

KS: Oh yeah.

DG: But the other thing that's so neat is that that's the way the Japanese community operated.

KS: That's right. We were, we were just dumfounded. And none of them even wanted thanks in return. They just, it's just one of the things that they do.

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

<Begin Segment 34>

DG: So, finishing out you know, your years in JACL. Tell me your reaction to this comment that I heard, that previous to maybe the '60s, JACL was just a social organization and they didn't do anything real meaningful until the '60s and became more active.

KS: Well I wouldn't say that. We, we took part in... Seattle annually has the Seafair parade and the JACL did a lot of work in building floats, a float to participate in the Seafair parade and we sponsored a queen contest for the girls of Japanese ancestry and...

DG: How did that start?

KS: Well just a group of us thought that would be nice. And one of our, one of the gals, this Agnes Hattori, and she's been long gone, but she was a beautiful seamstress and she made this gorgeous kimono type robe that the Queen could, could wear. And the queen contest was really quite an annual lovely thing. There were at least a dozen gals that would vie for the position and we would have the contest, sometimes in the arboretum if the weather was nice, and other times in different halls. It would be a lot, you know, it was quite an occasion. And the JACL was a, in that sense, a social organization where people could get together and do things.

DG: Do you think this is important that it was?

KS: Well, we felt it was at that time because it gave the young girls something to look forward to and we always tried to raise money so that they would get a scholarship for college and it also meant participating in the whole community too. Because our JACL or our princess took part in the Seafair princesses, and in subsequent years, there has been one of our girls that was named Seafair princess for the whole city of Seattle. So in that sense, it was a, it was political because we took part in the... Seafair's just really a thing to promote the city of Seattle. And aside from that, we had picnics and we had get-togethers where it was just for fun and it was nice because many of the people who had just first came back to Seattle got to see all the rest of the, all the rest of us all were here and they became active in the JACL. It was probably after the '60s when in maybe after the Vietnam War there were more people who were politically active and wanted, wanted more changes in the political climate of the city of Seattle and many of the young Japanese people became active in that. Which was good to see and the evolvement of JACL and being active in that was, it didn't come about over night or anything like that. It was very gradual, I think.

TS: Well, I think Kiyo expresses her recollection, but in addition, JACL could be accused of a social organization, especially in the prewar days, because we had our annual picnics and the dinners and dances sponsored by JACL, but there was nothing really politically crucial that we would have to work on. But especially after the war or we had emergencies that we faced and civil rights issues. We... I think JACL became really active after the war and as a result we had evacuation claims, naturalization rights given, redress for the evacuees. All civil rights legislations that young people in JACL still are active in, and I'm sorry to state that after late '60s I've become very inactive in JACL, but I still maintain my interest in its activities and try to attend its annual dinner meetings.

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

<Begin Segment 35>

DG: One of the things that you know, maybe we'll go onto this, but JACL is pretty much, you know, credited for redress. But, I've heard that some of the Isseis were a little bit turned off by the JACL, because they said that JACL told them to go into camp willingly and then, you know, took the credit for protesting when the, I don't know Japanese Community Services, or Japanese chamber... seems like they had a lot to do with how, helping people, I don't know, I didn't. Do you know anything about that?

KS: You mean after they came back from camp?

DG: Well there was a little bit of controversy of who gets the credit for getting, you know, the rights restored too.

KS: You mean redress?

DG: That and other things.

KS: Well, I think that redress was spearheaded by a group of young fellows right here in Seattle. They went to national conventions.

DG: Right.

KS: And insisted that it had to be number one on the national JACL program. And at that time national was not quite the force for such a, for such a concerted move. And that could be part of the reason that some of the older people had those feelings. That...

DG: Well we're going to get to it later, you know, that you were serving on the Japanese Community Service Board.

KS: Yeah.

DG: I want to know, you know, the feelings that they had when JACL brought these up. Maybe we can get to that. Let's...

TS: Well let me comment on this apparent feeling of betrayal by the Japanese community by JACL by urging cooperation with the civil and military authorities for evacuation and exclusion. Well, those, some of those of us who went to the emergency committee meeting in early 1942 were for demanding military emergency control rather than exclusion. We're for fighting it on that basis, but ultimately it ended up, well, if we're going to be evacuated, we might as well try to do it in a orderly fashion and protect our people and that's the reason as far as I could see that the decision was made on the national level. And I think that was kind of misunderstood as a betrayal of the rights of the general community by the leadership of JACL. Naturally people, when decisions are made, various interpretations could be put upon actions as taken, and no matter how much you explain, there always remains that question, remaining. And I don't know what could be done about it, but perhaps some understanding could be achieved.

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

<Begin Segment 36>

DG: How, when did the Japanese Community Service reactivate?

TS: I don't, I don't have a recollection for a precise year. I remember when in the late '40s, I got involved with the reactivation of JACL that led to motivating a young people's service group. And that led to Mr. Mihara going ahead with the reactivation of the former Japanese Association, which ended up being the Seattle Japanese Community Service, an organization of community service activities.

DG: Now there's something to do with the name. Tell me about that.

TS: Well, as I recall it, there were some feelings, especially on my part, to reorganizing the Japanese Association. I felt it had too much overtones of too direct a control by government influences of Japan. Anyway, I have claim some of the blame for using of the name Japanese Community Service.

DG: Wasn't there something that legally you were not able to name it something that had Japan connotation to it?

TS: No, not that I remember.

DG: Was there any reason because of the Japanese people, or because your, of how it looked in the hakujin community?

TS: Well, I really... my memory is very vague, but I do recall my dad telling me about some of his experiences in internment, particularly in Missoula, Montana, Ft. Missoula, Montana. And I remember that he had a cot near Mr. Mihara's cot and he would remember daily and frequent conferences of the Japanese Association Board and officer members gathering at Mr. Mihara's bed, discussing various activities. And I had the impression that Mr. Mihara kept his personal leadership contacts with the Seattle cohorts alive during his period of detention and their detention, and upon their return when he felt that the time was ripe, he called a meeting of his cohorts and we ended up with a community association. And as far as I could tell, he was very careful to include younger generation, particularly Niseis who were presumably responsible leaders in the community to become members of his organization, which became the Japanese Community Service, so that he could claim that he, as president, represented a service organization representing all people in the city of Seattle of Japanese descent. And I think he was a remarkable person in being able to analyze the community situation to make sure that the organization, at least on the face of it, was a organization of which, both by nationality and citizenship, were members in terms of nationality and citizenship of the United States. So that it was an American Japanese community organization.

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

<Begin Segment 37>

DG: So what, was he wanting to maintain ties with Japan, or was he real loyal to America or, do you know, have any feelings there or just to the community?

TS: Well, I think he had his own ideas about what was necessary to remain active as a leader of the community and responsible for taking leadership in community affairs.

DG: Was he detained longer than your father?

TS: Well, he was detained, I'm sure, until the end of World War II.

DG: Oh, is that right. Now did he recruit you?

TS: Well, I was... he didn't call me to a meeting personal, but I think I was given notice to attend a meeting.

DG: Were you one of the few Niseis, early Niseis, or were there others?

TS: Well I don't, I had no information as to who was invited. I do know that there was a bunch of Niseis.

DG: Oh there were, but...

TS: Not, I wasn't the only.

DG: Mostly Isseis still, mostly Isseis. So when was this?

TS: This is I think a late in '48 or '49. Early '50s.

DG: And he had already been using the building that you have down there for housing, right, as people came back?

TS: Well, I think the language-school building was devoted partially to the storage of home, household goods of people who didn't know what to do with their household goods and just stored them at the school during the war. And also Mr. Mihara had the experience of having an office. He just took it as a natural thing to maintain an office to help take care of the office, take care of the building and take care of the needs of the Japanese community. And when people couldn't find a place to stay, he would arrange to try to make space in the classrooms for housing and quite a few families, I forget, as many as twenty families obtained housing in classrooms at the school building. And the Japanese school was started sometime in 1956.

DG: Well there was people still living there?

TS: Until then, yes.

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

<Begin Segment 38>

DG: So, how did they come about restarting the school?

TS: Well, I think I was... I frankly don't realize, know, what the organizational details were, but the Language School prewar was to have classes for an hour or hour and a half after public school every day. And when it was restarted in 1956, the Language School was started for classes from 10 or 10:15 to 12:00 on Saturdays only, at the Language School with the student body of something like 180 to 200 students and it, their enrollment has not changed as far as I'm aware of, over the...

DG: Did the Japanese Community Service have anything to do helping with obtaining naturalization and that kind of thing? What were their activities those first years? Well, let's, let's establish the fact that Japanese Community Service is the parent organization and then the Japanese Language School is the subsidiary organization, right? The Japanese Language School was one of their activities, so then maybe previous to that was the housing. Was there, were there other things?

TS: Well.

DG: Do you remember those years, Kiyo?

KS: I was not active in the, in the community service at all.

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

<Begin Segment 39>

DG: But what is, what are your recollections for Mr. Mihara, did you happen to have contact with him?

KS: Oh, I only saw him at dinners. No, I never talked to him or...

DG: The reason he's such an important person is because for thirty years he was president of that organization and had his office there in the Japanese Language School building. And did he just set himself up after the war?

KS: I, we presume.

TS: Well all I could do is to be honest and I didn't know how and what activities Mr. Mihara was engaged. All I know is that he went faithfully to the, to his office at the Language School to carry on the activities of the Japanese Language School and of the Community Service. The Community Service organization was as named, at my understanding, was to give service by way of referrals and help finding housing and finding jobs and so forth and so on. And Community Service had a standing committee of the Community Service called Ijikai which consisted of members of the Community Service to act as a permanent committee to operate the Japanese Language School and this Ijikai committee reported at every meeting of the Community Service as to how many students there were, if there were any special problems at the school and plans for picnics and different functions of the Language School, so it was a sort of a prestand, standing committee and a subsidiary of the Community Service. And that's the way it functioned.

DG: One of the things that I do know, that they participated in involving the Kenjinkai. What, what did they do there?

TS: Well, for example, even to this day, there's been a tradition of asking the different Kenjinkais to participate with community service, especially in attendance of the president and officers of each Kenjinkai at the annual dinner and installation banquet of the Community Service. And I used to wonder how they got so many people to attend these Community Service dinners, but apparently when the letter went out, the presidents of each Community Service they got a invitation, made sure that they attended and that was usually 100, 150 people at each Community Service dinner.

DG: And they always were associated with Consul General's Office also, right?

TS: Well.

DG: Like, like now, when a boat comes in from Japan...

KS: That's right.

DG: They are the ones that meet them and so forth and...

KS: Entertain them. And periodically, people are awarded certificates or the Emperor's...

DG: The Kunshou, yeah.

KS: Kunshou.

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

<Begin Segment 40>

DG: That was going to be my next question. Tell me about the Kunshou.

TS: Well, theoretically, as I understand it, the Kunshou, or medal granted by the Japanese Emperor is for outstanding service to the community, especially of benefit to the Japan-American relations. Insofar as I know, practically every Issei who was a member of the Board of the Community Service as Mr. Mihara had organized it, has been a recipient of a medal.

DG: So was there some politics involved in who becomes board members and who becomes officers?

TS: [Laughs] As far as I could see, from what I'm, from what I know of nominees to the award are unofficially submitted by a committee and I would suspect that during Mr. Mihara's lifetime as office and representative of the Japanese Community Service, he would make recommendations to the Japanese Consul office for grant of to so and so of such and such an award. So, in order to be so rewarded, if he gave, if he got a notice to attend a board meeting, it was practically mandatory that you show up and show a record of devoted attendance at meetings of the Community Service. But I would hate to be quoted because I really don't know. I, I don't object to being quoted as having ventured this opinion.

DG: Right.

TS: But I don't know what the facts really are, because I don't know. I would say my uneducated guess of putting two and two together.

KS: Well most recipients of the honor are people who have either contributed artistically or politically or in academically to further relations between Japan and America and it depends on the Consul that's here too. And they change, you know, every two or three years and the Consulate ultimately is the one that recommends these medals to the Emperor's office in Japan. So, I've been to several award dinners and, and I feel that the people who have received them certainly deserved them. They have served their community and to Japan-America relations.

DG: I think the stories are about a few of the fringe people.

KS: Oh, well, maybe a long time ago.

DG: Right.

KS: Yeah. And I know, I heard that too. But I didn't go to those award banquets, so I can't say. I've only been to the ones in the last, about ten years.


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

<Begin Segment 41>

KS: Well it was called the Jackson Street Community Council at first and Toru, you say that it's still called that.

TS: Well it's still the Jackson Street Community Council, which has an office at the Japanese Language School building at 1414 South Weller Street, but I was one of the charter members of the Jackson Street Community Council, a organization of representatives of different nationality leaders in different organizations, which is, was and is a community chest organization for the service of businesses and people in the international area. And at the time that I was active in the Jackson Street Community Council, we had projects such as annual clean-up day involving the use of arranging for empty garbage, city garbage trucks to carry volunteers around the international neighborhood to clean up the vacant yards of debris and general sanitation efforts, which was very well received by the community and I think it's still part of the program of the Jackson Street Community Council. After several years of my association with that council, I discontinued, so I honestly can't say I'm still familiar with the Jackson Street Community Council.

DG: So anyway, let's finish up your service, you know, in the community organizations and once again, you know, you felt that that was an important part of coming back to Seattle and getting started again, you became representative Japanese in white organizations as well?

KS: Yes, well I think that as I've said before, we came at a rather auspicious time and got to meet many of the city leaders. And in the meantime, I became not only active in civic organizations -- my children needed Cub Scouts and Brownies, Girl Scouts -- and then there was PTA and I was also active in the PTA and was the president of the PTA at University Heights School. And those things were important, not only to my children, it also was to our, I felt, it was important for minority people to be active in these things, because I remember going to Girl Scout council meetings and it was nice to have Chinese women and myself and black women and they were all part, part of a council planning for activities all of the youngsters in the city because there were Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, all of ours and we were just a small part of the thing.

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

<Begin Segment 42>

DG: You told me about helping take out some of the anti-discriminatory clauses from leases.

KS: Oh, yes. I, when... about the time we were in the process of buying our house, which was in 1951, there were many homes that people could not buy because they had restrictive clauses in them. And we were fortunate to be able to buy our house, because we bought it from our friends. But I found out that there were...

DG: This is north of the...

KS: North of the Ship Canal. And so I was quite active in a talking campaign to inform people of the injustice of discriminatory clauses in their deeds, and in their practice of selling and buying homes and I think it's something that many, many people got quite active in. And so it's possible for anybody to buy a home anyplace now. And it wasn't that way before. So, we're very happy about that.

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

<Begin Segment 43>

DG: Let's go on to talking about your joining the Jefferson club.

KS: Oh yes. When I first took up golf, I learned to play... and this was again, this was a YM sponsor, maybe it was a YW-sponsored golf class in Wellington Hills, which is way out near Woodinville. And so I learned to play golf with a group of Caucasian women. And after we got a little bit better on the golf course, we decided to go to the Jackson Golf Course and play golf. And while we were there, there was a young lady named Jean Boucher and she said, "Oh, you girls play pretty good golf, why don't you join our club?" And they're just starting, "We're just starting a new club at Jackson, we'd be happy to have you." So we all went the next Thursday and joined the club at Jackson. After I had been there for about a year, in the meantime I had heard about quite a few Japanese women that wanted to play golf and start a golf club. And so I joined those Japanese women and I told them about my joining Jackson and learning the mechanics of putting a club together and how to run a tournament and things like that. So I started, helped start the Tokiwa Women's Golf Club in Seattle. And...

TS: At Jefferson.

KS: And, well, its home course really was not Jefferson at that time, but the, the golf pro at Jefferson helped us so that's how Tokiwa got started and...

DG: Where'd that name come from?

KS: Tokiwa's named evergreen and the Japanese women who dreamed it up thought it was good and everybody voted on it. It was just one of those things that... anyway so the Japanese women played in the Tokiwa Golf Club for oh, I would say at least ten years and I was the only member of Tokiwa that belonged to...

DG: Was this in the '70s?

KS: Yeah, it's in the '70s. Six, about the middle of '60s and '70s. And I played at Jackson with the Jackson gals and I used to play at Cedar Crest, but I had an accident and broke my leg and it got so I just couldn't climb the hills at Cedar Crest, so... and in those days, I used to play two and three times a week and it was getting to the point where if you didn't join a club, it was hard to play golf. You know, you had to get tee off times and things like that. So I quit the club at Jefferson, I mean at Cedar Crest, and then joined the club at Jefferson and I didn't think anything of it. I just put my name in and (said), "I'd like to join your club and play golf on Tuesdays." No problem and I joined. Later on I found out that there were many Japanese girls that wanted to join the club at Jefferson, and the reason why they didn't ever join the club at Jefferson was because they thought Jefferson Club discriminated. They never had, they didn't have anybody else that was Japanese, Chinese or black that joined Jefferson. So they just figured well, they just discriminate. And I said no, they don't discriminate. They're happy to have me. And after I was a member there for a year or two, I got two or three other Japanese women to join and then after about three years of being there, I was president of their club. And so after I became president, then the girls in Tokiwa says well, if Kiyo's going to be president, then it must be okay. So then about half of the Tokiwa Club joined Jefferson. And they're all very happy there and it's close to their home, and that's where they should play golf. So the only thing I could say is that lots of times we imagine discrimination and it's not there. You just have to go and be your own self and I know I've been active in the golf organization and been tournament chairman for the Washington State Public Links organization and no trouble getting courses to accommodate all of us at any time. And it doesn't matter whether I was representing the Tokiwa group, or the whole State of Washington golfers. I think it all works out the same. I, I don't expect the discrimination, so I get very little of it, I guess.

DG: Did you join any other organizations, sports organizations or anything, other investment clubs or anything like that?

TS: Well, I was a member of Seattle First Hill Golf Club and the Puget Sound Golf Club. I was tournament chairman for the First Hill Golf Club.

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

<Begin Segment 44>

DG: Let's move on to talking about taking care of your parents.

KS: Oh yes. My (mother, after my father's death in 1935,) until she went to camp, I really didn't take care of her at all. I was in no position to take care of her. I was in school, but when she left camp about in 1943, I was living in Salt Lake and she came to stay with me for a while. She lived with my sister for a while. She got a job in a little town called Gunnison as a, I think she was caretaker. This woman had a motel or something and she, I think she cleaned the rooms and made beds and things like that. I think at that time my mother was in her sixties and she, maybe she wasn't quite sixty. Well she was in her sixties. But she had a lot of energy and she worked and then for the next about ten years she kind of off and on lived first with me, and then with my sister, and then with my other sisters, and then she lived with a brother of mine in Milwaukee for oh, a year or two and then a sister who lived in Chicago. She just moved from place to place and whenever she got tired of wherever she was, she came back.

DG: In the meantime, Toru was mentioning that you had all kinds of family members with, around you, too, living with you.

KS: Oh yes. Well, that was just my mother. But I've had my younger sister, Toru's younger sister, his younger brother. Many of them who were sort of either in between jobs or still had to finish school or were on their way to school. I had two nieces that stayed with me. One, Toru's sister's daughter, my brother's daughter. It seems like for at least twenty years of our marriage, we had somebody living with us all of the time. We also had a grand niece of mine from Japan live with us for about two years while she went to Roosevelt. And since then, some of my other grand nieces have come to visit and stay with us. So somehow or other, I think our house from the time we've been married has been sort of Grand Central Station. I've really enjoyed having family and...

DG: And in the last years you took care of your mother-in-law?

KS: Yes, my mother in law came to live with us for... she, when she was just about to turn eighty, she had been widowed for about five, four or five years, and she was living in a little house in Fife and we kept telling her well, you really should, you know, move in with one of us and she was very reluctant to leave her little house. But I think when she was facing eighty...

DG: It is traditional to go to the oldest son's house?

KS: Yes, I think so. Anyway.

TS: Well she had a burglary.

KS: Yeah, well, that was after she moved out of her house, Toru.

TS: Oh, that's right.

KS: I think it was that she, she was diabetic and she didn't know it. And when you live alone, you don't eat properly and she liked these manjuu things and sometimes that's all she'd have for dinner instead of eating a regular meal. Well, of course I didn't know this because I didn't live with her. I'd just call her and ask her how she is and all that. And she, it was after... we were at a, we were at a banquet and one of Toru's brother's friends said that, "Hey, there's a telephone call and you'd better go and get it." And it was his sister in Portland who had called his, called mother and she sounded kind of like she was only half there and she got distressed and decided to get a hold of Toru and Hippo at this banquet that we were at and so we left the banquet and immediately went out to Fife to see what was the matter with. Well, she was suffering from too much sugar and she was sort of faint and... so we brought her to the hospital. Well the hospital knew right away what was the matter with her. They, they did a sugar thing on her and so she needed medication.

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

<Begin Segment 45>

DG: Yeah, I forget some of the things that we talked about but you sort of found out more about your roots and family and...

KS: Oh yes, oh yeah.

DG: Different things that you were exposed to.

KS: And so we had Toru's mother come and live with us. And one of the nice things about that was that I was able to talk with her.

DG: Right.

KS: And she would tell me about her, her young experiences in Japan. Her father and mother had left her in Japan when she was about six or seven years old. And they were going to go to America and make some money and then come back and get her or go back to live in Japan. So she was left with her grandmother, but her grandmother couldn't take care of her, so her aunt did. Well her aunt was working and she was just about at the age where she started going to school. And I think they only lived about five or six blocks from school, but there were no other children evidently in the neighborhood. She had to walk to school by herself and for all those years, she said she was very lonesome, she was scared. She said, "I never really learned very much at school." She hated school. She also told me that they would have these horrible thunderstorms in Kyushu and she would be so frightened. And she had her own special place that she'd crawl into to hide. And I thought, you know, parents, maybe, they have to do these things. Eventually when she was thirteen years old, her dad did come back to Japan to get her, but there were what, about six or seven years where she was very lonesome. And...

DG: Were your children around when your parents were coming and living with you at all? Or were they gone by then?

KS: Yes. When my mother came to live with us. My, my children were home, so they got to know Grandma. But by the time Toru's mother lived with us, why they were all married and gone. It was, or April was in school really, she was away. The others...

DG: Because this is an ideal way for children to get to know, you know...

KS: Oh yes.

DG: Our Japanese traditions.

KS: Oh yes and just the fact that his mother stayed with us, my own children, every time they'd come home, they'd say hi Grandma and talk to her. So that part was very delightful and I think his mother certainly got to know our kids better.

DG: Because it's one of the things I love about, you know, our culture is that, you know, we take care of each other and we take care of our elderly.

KS: That's right, oh yes.

DG: And it isn't just with the Japanese, I find this true all over, but. Tell me about, you know, these values that you want to pass on to your own children and grandchildren.

KS: Um.

DG: Which ones are important?

KS: Well, I think the love of family and closeness of family. And to have roots. To be able to know that, like my mother came from Nigata and there's family over there. My father came from Hiroshima and there's family there. They're all part, part of you. And Toru's mother came from Kumamoto and we were able to go and see her family and her family's land and...

DG: So your children see by example.

KS: Yes.

DG: That it's passing on your heritage.

KS: Yes.

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

<Begin Segment 46>

DG: What about the third generation? Do they have the same values as you?

KS: Well I think they're equally interested. My, one of my daughter's had a chance to go to Japan and spend a year there and she went to Kyushu and she was able to visit the Hattori family, property and grave site and visit Kyushu. She also went to Nigata and to Hiroshima.

DG: So they have a strong feeling of roots?

KS: They have, yes. And...

DG: What about values of responsibility? Do you think that the third generation is as responsible, do you think?

TS: Well, I think they are. In some instances they lack exposure to the personal backgrounds. Our youngest daughter, when she was small, five, six or seven years old, came home one day saying she was madder than heck, saying I'm Japanese. And she found out for the first time that her ancestry was Japanese. And I realized it and then I told her that you're Japanese because your daddy and mother are also Japanese, being children of your grandparents on both sides being Japanese. So your friend across the street is Norwegian because their parents came from Norway and their grandparents came from Norway, but she's also American and don't forget your ancestry of being Japanese, although you're American, and that your friend is Norwegian, but also an American citizen. And I think there's necessity for making our children or grandchildren be aware of their national backgrounds and be proud of it. It doesn't take very much, but it avoids them having to explode at some time in their life. [Laughs]

DG: So is it important that they, that you're Japanese American or is it important that you're American or is it?

KS: Well actually it is important to be American. We live in America, we are American, but it's also nice to be Japanese American because with it comes a whole, centuries of tradition and culture that we can be a part of and it, that's something that (as) children they absorb. When they're little, they didn't care too much for Japanese food, but you should see them when they're grown up, they just love it. So it's, it has to be something that they, they get exposed to and learn to love and fortunately, they give it to their children. Now my grandchildren, they just all like, they just like Japanese food because my children have brought them up on it. And it, and I think that's very important. It's very important.

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

<Begin Segment 47>

DG: Let's just summarize. If you did things over, would you change anything?

KS: No, no. I can't. I can't say that. I, I've had a good husband and I've had a good family and fortunately, wonderful parents. So, I've been a very fortunate person.

DG: Toru?

TS: Well I have no complaints. [Laughs]

DG: Just a bit, I forgot about one thing. You told me a story at one of the breaks about the fact that you never had any drinks as a child and your father, you, you told us a story about your father hiding some booze in the haystack.

KS: Barn. [Laughs]

DG: Haystack and I asked you if you ever snuck anything and you said no.

TS: Well, it's just something in our family history. My parents were very devout Christians and also they participated in the national custom of having New Year's food, at which time they would invite friends to participate in a bite or two, and some, drink some sake. And I do recall finding out that my dad had stashed away gallons of homemade sake in the sawdust pile used to line the horse stalls in the barn. And I never said anything to my dad and he never said anything to me and I never had any inclination to sample it. I don't know why, maybe I should have. [Laughs] But I don't recall having a drink of intoxicating liquor until I was about twenty-five years old and living at the Japanese Students' Club and a roommate of mine, by the name of Senba from Tacoma would sneak in a pint bottle of gin which he finally talked me into taking a drink in the kitchen of the student's club house and that started me off to drinking. [Laughs] And drinking has been a part of my personal social life all my life. And I remember in particular Mr. Kubota, who ultimately served as president of the Japanese Community Service and I was the president of the Japanese Apartment and Association annual, was a multi-millionaire, but he was represented by attorney Bill Mimbu and because of my personal association with both the Community Service and Japanese Language School, of which he became president, I got to know him. And because I had moved from Ravenna Boulevard, our house for thirty-three years to my location now in this condo in 1991, I used to -- and I took the bus to my office. I used to walk from downtown Seattle where my office was to Mr. Kubota's office in the, on Main Street in the International District and he would always have bottles of scotch. Matter of fact, he had small bottles of one ounce containers of all kinds of drinks in one of these bookcases, and he must have had about 3,000 small bottles of booze. But he was careful not to drink or give out any of those, but he was very generous with his other liquor. And I remember I would drink and one time he told me that he would like to have me do some legal work for him. I told him nothing doing. He says, "Why?" I told him, "You're client of Bill Mimbu's and I have nothing to do with your change of any attorney's work in the first place. In the second place, I don't want to get into any arguments with you, because that's all you do anyway." And we would talk about different things and he was not much of a drinker. He, after half a drink, he would start to feel pretty good and in the meantime I'd finish about two or three drinks and pretty soon, he was getting kind of intoxicated and many, many times he would blurt out, he says, "I love you." [Laughs] I told him, "I don't know what you're talking about."

KS: Oh, but he did. He certainly had big affection for Toru. And Toru would always call me up and he says, "Come get me in about half an hour." And so I'd drive down there and pick him up. He never drove in this condition. [Laughs]

DG: But you had some good times with your friend Hattori too.

TS: Yes. Hattori and Terrence Toda and Min Tsubota. I'm afraid that I was quite a pickler. [Laughs] Fortunately...

DG: The one, the one reason I bring that up is that I have a number of people around me, relatives, who do drink. But the one thing that I notice is they all, knew when to quit somehow and be responsible.

KS: Yeah, none of them ever piled up their cars or...

DG: Right.

KS: Uhh.

DG: They knew how to do it responsibly.

KS: That's right. Now many times Frank Hattori would go to his car and he would sleep for a couple of hours and then he'd go home.

DG: Right.

KS: He never drove when he was... and I don't know how many times Toru would call me, "Come get me."

DG: Or, you know, they never skipped work.

KS: No, no.

DG: Or anything like...

KS: No, they never skipped work.

TS: Well I.

DG: It was neat that you could relax that way, you know.

TS: I do recall that each time I drank quite a bit, I would end up eating something and my friends, not very many people would, once they got to feeling real good, they didn't want to quit, quit drinking and they didn't want to eat. But as soon as I felt myself getting pretty good, I would somehow manage to eat. And I think perhaps that was my salvation. I'm still alive. [Laughs]

KS: Yeah, and he can still take a drink or two. Not very much, but.

TS: And Kubota, he would, after, for example a Japanese Language School or Community Service meeting, he says, "Well let's go over to bar, I buy a drink." And he would have his usual one and I'd have my usual two or three and sometimes he would go to his second drink and I, I'd talk him into leaving, but I can remember get, him getting into his car and I wait until he started his car and I followed him to his home on Beacon Avenue many, many times to keep him out of trouble. [Laughs]

KS: Sure.

DG: Again, an example of how you took care of each other.

TS: Yeah.

KS: That's right, that's right.

DG: And work together as a community.

KS: Oh, yes.

DG: Can you think of any other things that you want...?

TS: Well I suppose there's no end to...

DG: Right, so, thank you very much. That was great.

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