Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Shosuke Sasaki Interview
Narrator: Shosuke Sasaki
Interviewers: Frank Abe (primary), Stephen Fugita (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 18, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-sshosuke-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

SF: So you planned on going to college right after graduating, or what was...

SS: Well, I wanted -- yes. Well, after I graduated Broadway, I went to enter the engineering school at the University of Washington. And in the middle of April I remember, of the first semester, I started developing night sweats and I started to cough, so I had to go to the school infirmary and they checked it out and told me that I had spots in my lungs and that their advice was that I drop out of school and go out in the country somewhere, where the air would be better and regain my health before continuing school. And so we... at that time, my mother and I, my mother and sister and I, the three of us, we were running a hotel on Jackson Street. Boy, that was tough because we actually had to be on duty, well, at least one of us had to be on duty 24 hours. And I was, I had become ill and my mother was complaining that the work was too hard for her, her back was bothering her because when she made and changed the sheets and so forth on the beds -- those beds in those days were very, very heavy and they had to be moved before she could change the linen. And my mother wasn't feeling well and then they found out that my sister had pleurisy. So we discussed the whole thing with the family doctor and he said, "Why don't you just give up what you're doing, you're only killing yourself with all the work, and move out to the country." So that's what we decided to do. Fortunately because of our connection or friendship with the Furuya family, some of the employees of Furuya, they said they could move us out to Bainbridge, so it didn't cost anything to move, except for the boat fare. And we went out to Bainbridge, I remember, without even knowing where we would be staying that night. And fortunately there was a farmer on Bainbridge. He was just shifting. He had given up his strawberry farm lease in one location and he had just landed a place in Winslow because he wanted to run a farm connected with that area. And we asked that farmer. The farmer, eventually he moved from Winslow to near the southern end of Bainbridge Island and that day, we, both families moved. He moved what he had from there, he moved up to the Winslow house and we moved into the house on the southern end of Bainbridge which, which he had operated that farm.

FA: What year was this, Shosuke?

SS: This was 1932, I'm pretty sure. That was the year the Furuya Bank failed.

FA: Really?

SS: Yeah, we lost our entire savings. And fortunately when we moved to this other farm that this farmer was giving up so that he could move to the new farm in Winslow that... oh yeah. See, this farmer had five acres of land there where we moved to, that was on the shore. And that faced south. And it was on top of a bluff and the road was immediately below that bluff and then 20 or 30 feet beyond that road, that was the end of the Bainbridge Island and we had to... we used to go down there to get clams. That was part of our food supply. We, the farmer had left all the vegetables that he had planted there, so we availed ourselves of what continued to grow. And he had quite a variety of vegetables, including even things like asparagus. And he left his 5-acre strawberry farm intact. So we had strawberries there whenever the season came around.

FA: Quick impression, quick answer. How did you like your life on Bainbridge?

SS: I enjoyed it. The relief from having to run that damned hotel on Jackson Street, that was one thing. And that southern end of Bainbridge, we had the most beautiful spot on Bainbridge you will find. Our house, the farmhouse we lived in faced south. Then the moon would come from the opposite shore. And the Bremerton ferries and also the navy ships used to come through that narrow channel and on a moonlight night, that was one of the most beautiful scenes I have seen anywhere in my life. And I consider it a great favor of God, really, to have placed me there to enjoy those beautiful moonlight nights there.

FA: Did you regain your health?

SS: In time. Oh yeah. We were there a little over a year.

FA: What caused you to leave?

SS: Huh?

FA: What caused you to leave?

SS: Well, because we had to get back to Seattle and get a hold of a rooming house or something where we could have a place to stay and have income. And remember the rooming house that we -- of course, as you know, we couldn't buy land -- whatever we got, those days, we had to, we had to lease the land, the building or whatever.

SF: You couldn't stay on the strawberry farm and grow strawberries and sell those?

SS: No, no. We weren't built for that kind of backbreaking work.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.