Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank S. Fujii Interview
Narrator: Frank S. Fujii
Interviewers: Larry Hashima (primary), Beth Kawahara (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 3 and 5, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-ffrank-01-0027

<Begin Segment 27>

LH: So again, going back to that, sort of that immediate period right after you came back to Seattle -- and you talked a little about it earlier in terms of the Japanese community, and how the sports leagues sort of helped you when you couldn't get onto the high school team. But what was it like sort of going back to this community, and sort of not having the same, same kind of situation as it was prewar in terms of having a really closely tied-in Japanese community?

FF: Well, I think the community was, or should I say the sports especially, and what I loved the most was basketball. And I think that was a social event for the whole week, because most of the Niseis, or Nikkei population, had kids playing in sports and Buddhist church was the center of most of the -- if you call it the important games -- and Friday night was the special night. And I think it brought everybody together. It was crowded, like Madison Square Garden, there wasn't a place to stand, you know, and because of most of it was standing and sitting, but I was real proud to play in the community. Yes, I lost my stature in terms of being the first Nisei in getting a letterman sweater from Garfield when I didn't make the team. I could have sat on the bench a couple of years, but that's no good, I didn't want that. So I'm glad I stuck it out with the community so that alternative of having the community was so important, that when I made the team and been able to travel to California. It was sort of like saying someone up there is looking after me. Because when I was able to travel with the team to Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Portland, Idaho, Idaho Falls and, and playing all the Ontario, Oregon and all these different teams and some California, Oakland. I think it was great to say, hey, if I sat on the bench and been on varsity but didn't make my letter and I miss all this. So in a way it worked out for me. It didn't, you know -- you have more prestige in the community if you do well, they remember you more. And I think that part any boy would like.

And plus, my brothers, to be proud of the fact that they are playing against you, too. I had played against some of my brothers then 'cause I was on a team, supposedly the best team in the Northwest at the time, and they play against other teams and we beat them. But the point was, it was sort of a irony that the baby of the family playing against the older brothers who used to be my idols and I, I get to beat them. But then we're still, you know, we're not... we're not enemies and we're not vying for anything important. Just the fact that they were part, probably a catalyst to my interest and my ability. But to be able to, to achieve like I have, I feel lucky, and to even expound on that issue in this interview, I think it's... I feel good about it because instead of me saying well, I'm bitter about my folks, I'm bitter about my life, I'm bitter about having a lousy marriage, I'm bitter about... you could talk about all these bitter things and the bitterness can't help, and I think, I like to think, if I have something to say on this issue about internment or, or whatever the Densho Project has to offer, I think I -- I have gained lot of the things that I think I never thought I would. And I'm real pleased that I'm happy with myself and the community, and my former marriage to my former wife who passed away. And I think I have no regrets and I think to hear from my standpoint, I think it might lend itself to be some worth because I, I have, I have all this to say, but then at the same time, I've achieved a lot.

I feel self-satisfied in that sense of what I was in the community and I, I think we all want to feel like we're accomplishing something or be part of the community or offer the community or give to the community which Mich, my former wife and I had offered to. And I have no qualms to say we did it 'cause we wanted to. Not because some people might say, "Well, how come you gave all your time to the community or to these projects?" 'Cause we wanted to, no questions asked. If you have to question it, then don't do it. And we always maintained that. My wife was super about that. And you know, she's the one that raised thousands of dollars for Keiro through her corporate contacts, and mine through my interest in the graphics were designing the programs and being at the graphic part and the art program of the construction of Keiro. And I loved that. I mean, it was, just fit, so both of us to offer that issue to the community, it felt good. And I think everybody should do that. And even now, I don't mind doing a lot of community things but I -- I'm not into meetings, I'm not into arguing, just tell me what you want me to do in the background, such as graphics things or things I could do at home. Like I just finished a banner for somebody just today and for the community and stuff like that which isn't much, but I, I feel it's a way to contribute without, you know, having... like some people need that contact of verbality back and forth with each other. I think it's because I taught and I've been in the community long enough and, well, at my age, I don't need it. I think you have to tell yourself when you want to continue on and hear yourself, you know, hear yourself speak at meetings and no, not me. I'm not into that.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.