Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rudy Tokiwa Interview II
Narrator: Rudy Tokiwa
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Judy Niizawa (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 2 & 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-trudy-02-0016

<Begin Segment 16>

RT: Well, you know we actually, that age, you're not thinkin' that, too much, too strong, about discrimination. So, I just turned around, why, I'm one, I don't like to be one of those guys that just hang around doin' nothin'. So I went to work in camp. Now we never got paid.

TI: Now this was still at the assembly center?

RT: Yeah, still at the assembly center. I didn't know what to do, so I went to the kitchen. And I'll never forget this, Mr. Abe used to be a cook in Southern Pacific Rail Line. And he was the chief cook. So I went to him, and I said, "Gee, I don't like just standing around doing nothing. I like to do something, and help you." "Oh, yeah, yeah." He says, "You come cook. You come cook. I teach you how to cook." So he taught me how to cook and everything. He taught me how to cook big pots of rice and everything, and how much water you gotta put in it, and why you gotta do it this way. And he was real good. And all the time we were in Salinas Assembly Center, maybe, three-and-a-half, four months, and we never got meat. And we just thought, well, it was the government. United States wasn't giving the Japs any meat. They were giving it to the army and stuff. But later, later on, we found out that the guy that was in charge of the camp there was selling the meat over again. [Laughs]

TI: So he was diverting the...

RT: Yeah, he was sort of diverting it.

TI: to the black market or something.

RT: Yeah. But this Mr. Abe, he taught me real well. And he was amazed that somebody so young -- I used to get up four o'clock in the morning, every morning. There was no such days as days off, see. And I used to get up every morning, four o'clock, and go in there and make hot water for coffee and everything. And we worked from four o'clock to about eight o'clock at night.

TI: Was he sort of like a father figure? Because I think I read someplace where your father was picked up by the FBI.

RT: No.

TI: And so he was -- was he picked up by the FBI?

RT: No.

TI: Oh, your father was there.

RT: No. They never could pick him up as, the FBIs couldn't pick him up, because they had no charges. And not only that, he was in the American army.

TI: Okay.

RT: So gee, we got, when we got shipped to Arizona, I didn't have time to really settle down too much and think about what was going to happen and how bad these things were and thing, because Mr. Abe kept me busy all the time. And he always used to say, "If you have free time, your mind wanders and you get in trouble. So always keep your mind busy." And mind you, now, we used to push through over a thousand people through our kitchen. And so he was, and I was actually amazed how the Nisei younger people were able to keep themselves busy by coming in, working as waitresses, as servers, and stuff like this. And none of us ever got paid.

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