Densho Digital Archive
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection
Title: Tatsukichi Moritani Interview
Narrator: Tatsukichi Moritani
Interviewer: Frank Kitamoto
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date: February 25, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-mtatsukichi-01

[Ed. note: Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

FK: Okay, Tats, what can you tell me about your mother and father? Like, where was your father from, what part of Japan?

TM: Oh, he's from Hiroshima, that's all I know. I guess he's a farmer's, used to be a farmer's son, I guess, back home.

FK: Did he ever talk about why he decided to come to America?

TM: No. He came to Hawaii first, you know, and he didn't like it there. Got into the... I don't know how the... he must have been working on some contract, I guess, or something. But anyhow, he got out of it, I guess, some way, and he came to America.

FK: Do you know what year that was?

TM: No. Must have been in the early 1900s, I guess.

FK: And he came over, then, when he was single, then, huh?

TM: Yes.

FK: Okay. And did he come directly to the Northwest, then, when he came?

TM: Yeah, as far as I know he came directly around here, I guess.

FK: Do you about what time, what period of time it was when he moved to Bainbridge Island?

TM: Oh, about, about 1910 area, I guess.

FK: So how did he, how did he get married?

TM: How did he get married?

FK: Yeah, how did he meet his wife, or how did they get married?

TM: Oh, that's a long story there. My mother was supposed to, she's a "picture bride" or something for another man and they didn't, they didn't like the looks of each other or something, there never was a marriage there. He just, he just walked out, and she walked out, I guess. And I don't know how my father got in there, but he said, "Well, I'll take over this mess here." And so he, so she, they got married, I guess.

FK: So did he, did he do that all on his own or was there somebody that went in-between to arrange that?

TM: There probably was, but I don't know anything about it. I didn't even know she did that, all this until she died, you know. She kept that pretty well... maybe everybody else knew but I didn't even know, the family didn't know anything about it. Only time it, all this came out first is when the FBI raided the house and didn't think that, stuff didn't add up, you know. Name was, her name was, married name was Yuki or something, and that's, that's what the passport and all that stuff said. Here she's a Moritani... well, I don't know, the bookkeeping, bookkeeping didn't keep up with her very much.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

FK: So when were you born and where were you born?

TM: Pardon?

FK: When were you born and where were you born?

TM: I was born in Bainbridge Island on Day Road West there, next to Suyematsu's farm. They used to... there's another farm there named, people named Krauss, whose property we rented from. Shig was born there, and another... Mort wasn't born there, but I was and one sibling below me was born there, and then Shig and my two brothers were also born but they were born in Winslow.

FK: So what year were you were born?

TM: Pardon?

FK: What year was it when you were born?

TM: 1916.

FK: Okay. So was your, did your family go directly into farming? Did your father go directly into farming when he came here?

TM: No, I don't think so. He must have worked around and found out a few things about it, how they did farming around here, I guess. I didn't think he got in it, just... because my mother said she worked in the laundry or something, younger days, and then they went to dig potatoes after they were married. They dug potatoes by hand in Mount Vernon. You didn't have no potato diggers in them days, I guess.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

FK: Okay, so how did, how did your -- I understand that your father was one of the first ones to grow strawberries on Bainbridge Island? Can you tell me about that?

TM: Yeah, I'll tell you what I know about it, but I don't know too much how he got into strawberries. Some people told me that he was one of the first ones to raise strawberries on Bainbridge Island, and I didn't know that. Just heard about it.

FK: So do you know why so many people on the island went into farming, the Japanese community went into farming?

TM: Well, there was, there wasn't much they could raise on this island, either strawberries or tomatoes or peas and some potatoes, I guess.

FK: So was, what was farming like in those days? Was it easy to do, or was it a hard thing to do?

TM: Yeah, it's hard, I guess. They just had all fresh market, you know. In the summertime, strawberries being raised in Bellevue, and Vashon and all around, they all had to, went to Seattle market, you'd think it wouldn't take long to get a saturation point. There were, everybody had a belly full of strawberries. That's why price used to go rock-bottom midseason, because they had to think of ways to get rid of that surplus there. So we had some of the early canneries were, like, National, and they used to... I guess they used to get a lot of the berries from the fresh market there, and then, and put it in a barrel, I guess. That's how the, cold pack started, I guess.

FK: So did all the, did all the boys work on the farm, or how did you spend your time growing up?

TM: [Laughs] Yeah, I guess there wasn't much to do in the Depression there. Only thing to do was go work for the farm or the greenhouse or some other thing like that in the wintertime, and work on our own place in the summertime.

FK: So you worked in a greenhouse in the wintertime? Tell me about working at the, at a greenhouse, whose greenhouses and what you did there.

TM: I worked at Pleasant Beach Gardens, run by the Furuta family. It's right out here in Pleasant Beach there, and they had eight houses there. They raised -- when I was there they raised chrysanthemums and tomatoes.


FK: Were you in high school, or you were, how old were you when you started working in the greenhouse?

TM: Oh, around eighteen, I guess. No, I didn't work in the greenhouse when I was in high school. So it was after 1935 I worked in the greenhouse, after I graduated.

FK: So, so tell me about going to school on the island, then.

TM: Well, we were about two miles from the high school, so we walked to school.

FK: Which high school was this, then?

TM: Bainbridge High School. Winslow High School was right near our house but they were phasing it out. There used to be two high schools on Bainbridge Island, Olympic High School and Winslow High School. Olympic High School was right down by Day Road there, there was an electric substation there, and around... and all the Rolling Bay and Port Madison guys went there, I guess. Winslow High School had all the Winslow people, and the Eagledale people and the Pleasant Beach people, I guess. Those guys up here, Port Madison and Rolling Bay, they went to Olympic High School until 1927, I think. No, what was it? 19-... what the hell was it? Yeah, I think it was around '28 when Bainbridge High School first opened up.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

FK: So how did you get around in those days -- was it easy to get around? Or how did you get around if you, like going to school, or if you wanted to meet with friends and so forth, how did you get around?

TM: Well, jumped in the car, I guess. We had Model Ts in them days. [Laughs]

TM: So did most everybody have a car or just certain people had cars?

TM: Yeah, eventually all the farmers had cars, I guess, trucks. They had to have it. Nobody... there was horse and buggy, but they seldom hitched up the horse and buggy year-round, unless you were gonna haul something.

FK: So were most of your friends, then, people of Japanese descent, or did you have Caucasian friends? What did you as far as, in grade school, or before you got to high school when you played or anything, tell me about your friends.

TM: I didn't have many Caucasian friends that I stuck around with. I stayed home. My older brother Mort used to hang around with a bunch of no-good little punks, always getting in trouble.

FK: What kind of trouble would they get into?

TM: [Laughs] Oh... they used to smoke, anyway, that's one thing they shouldn't have been doing.

FK: So did you get into any activities in high school or anything like that?

TM: No... oh yeah, my brother used to belong to the Backwoods Club, you know, used to sneak off in the woods there when they were at recess or lunchtime or something.

FK: Now, did you mother and father both run the farm then, when you, when you were growing berries?

TM: Yes, as far as I know.

FK: When you were, when you were growing up, who seemed to be the most influence in your life, your mother or your father?

TM: [Laughs] Well, I don't know. My father, I guess, while he was alive. But he didn't live very long; he died in 1927. He was only about, a little over fifty when he died. And then after 1927, my mother ran the farm which wasn't very big.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

FK: Now, when World War II started, were you pretty much aware of what was going on as far as, in the world, as far as the United States being at war?

TM: Well, I knew the U.S. and Japan weren't getting, they weren't getting along very good, and there was talk of war ever since the First World War, I guess. Only thing is, Japan was on a different side then. Like, Admiral Togo of Japan was a big hero around here, even, because he got, he beat the Russian navy in a battle there.

FK: What were you doing and how did you hear about Pearl Harbor? Where were you and what were you doing when you heard about Pearl Harbor?

TM: Well, I was home, Mits Katayama came down and we just sat in his car, and we didn't even get out of the car, listening to the radio. And I said, "What's happening here?" And he said Japan just attacked Pearl Harbor and the war is on.

FK: What was your, did you have a feeling or a reaction to hearing that happening?

TM: No.

FK: Any thoughts, how were you, what were you thinking as far as how that might affect relationships with, like, Caucasians or other people?

TM: [Pauses] I don't know...

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

FK: Can you tell me about when the FBI came to Bainbridge Island, what happened then?

TM: Yeah, well, I was working in the greenhouse. I wasn't home but the other guys were home. They said they looked through everything. I was working in the greenhouse and the guy comes in there and sits down there, just watching me and he wouldn't say nothing. So I said, "Well, what's going on here?" and he wouldn't tell me. Then they grabbed Shig and his father and mother, and started interrogating them, I guess. I didn't see them the whole time that the FBI was down at the Furuta's place there, then it wasn't 'til after I got home that I found out that the FBI was around.

FK: So how did that affect your family?

TM: Well, it didn't affect anybody. Oh, they, first, they grabbed my mother and took her to the immigration station in Seattle, I guess, and interrogated her some more. Then she came back, because they didn't have anything on her, I guess, except when she got married and all that red tape there, that she came as a certain person and then the name changed and this and that.

FK: Were you home when they actually took your mother away?

TM: No.

FK: Do you remember what feelings you had when that happened?

TM: Yeah. Yeah, they grabbed a few more other people, like Mr. Otaki and Mr. Suyematsu and them, but they came back. They couldn't have, they couldn't... didn't have anything on 'em, I guess. And some of 'em they held on to, like your father and Mr. Nishimori, and Terashita, Nishi and Hayashida, they practically, they didn't come back to join the family until after about a year in camp, when they came back.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

FK: When did you start maybe getting the feeling that maybe people might be removed from Bainbridge Island because they were of Japanese descent? When did you first start getting the feeling that that might happen, or what triggered that off?

TM: I know that the people that got interrogated, they said the FBI knew quite a bit about Japanese life on the island -- where they've been, people that visited the old country and came back, whether they were men or women, they were really interrogated on this.

FK: Was the, when they posted the notices that we all had to go, was that the first time you realized that we were gonna have to close everything down and leave?

TM: Yeah.

FK: And then when those notices were posted, what feelings did you have?

TM: What?

FK: When those notices were posted on the posts and walls and things, what feelings went through your mind at that time?

TM: Well, yeah, I didn't know where we were going. They said there was a chance that Bainbridge was going to the Moses Lake area, the whole group. But then that kind of fell through, there were too many little kids and families and stuff. There wasn't anything, any place for them to go, except out of the restricted area.

FK: What things did you decide to do when you found out that we had to leave? What steps did you take and what did you decide to do?

TM: They had several meetings at the Japanese Hall there, and something about power of attorney and all that stuff. People left... they said you had to leave their farm. They didn't let you just leave it, they said somebody gotta be, you gotta get somebody to run that farm while you're gone, I guess. So you had to find somebody to take over. But our place was, nobody wanted it because it's so small and run down. One guy decided to hold, take it for one year, and then just went practically broke, so just left it. We had to get some, somebody from the American Friends took over and looked after that place until we came back.

FK: Was that someone on the island that did that?

TM: Yes, Orville Robertson.

FK: So he just, so the farm, he kinda looked after it, but no one really ran the farm while you were gone, then?

TM: No.

FK: Okay. So what preparations did you make to, when you knew you had to leave on March 30th, what preparations did you make as far as personally deciding what you were gonna bring and so forth? Did you get rid of a lot of stuff or did you just decide to bring certain things? How did you go through that process?

TM: Well, first, they said any stuff you got to store, you stored at the Japanese Hall there, and they would be guarded twenty-four hours a day on it. So we took some stuff up there. The car we put in some neighbor's place. The stuff that, the stuff that we left to the neighbors, we all got back. Stuff we took up to the Hall there, we got that back. Stuff that we left around the house there, that's, most of it disappeared.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

FK: What do you remember about that day, on March 30th?

TM: [Laughs] Oh... it was just an ordinary day. We thought we're just gonna be gone for maybe a year or something, that's it. It lasted about four-and-a-half years, or so.

FK: Now, did the, did the army trucks come around to get you or how did that work?

TM: Yeah, the army truck came... I don't know, I forgot who was in that truck besides us. Nishimoris or... anyhow, it was supposed to be "what you can carry," anyway, even if they had a big truck coming around. Each had a suitcase full of stuff, that's it.

FK: So what kind of process did you go through to decide what you were going to carry in your suitcase?

TM: Just a change of clothes, I guess. We went to town and bought some of those cheap suitcases, the metal ones, and filled 'em up to the gills. That was it.

FK: So what was going through your mind on that day when the trucks picked you up and brought you to the site?

TM: You know, I was ready to get drafted. No matter what happens, I was gonna be either in the army or in camp. In fact, if the evacuation day was about two weeks later, I would have been in the army, 'cause I was supposed to show up at a certain date there. And there was no way that I could be seen staying around there without breaking the law. They said, "Go around, go on with the rest of the guys," the draft board said, "We'll get you later." So they got me about three years later. [Laughs]

FK: So when you, when you boarded that ferry, and the ferry was leaving the island, did you have any thoughts in your mind at that time? What were your thoughts in your mind at that time?

TM: I couldn't remember being all shook up, too shook up about it. The only thing is to survive this war some way, I guess. Lot of guys were going to get killed, sure hate to be one of 'em.

FK: Do you remember anything about the soldiers that escorted you off the island?

TM: What about 'em?

FK: Do you remember anything about them, any impressions about the soldiers who escorted you off the island?

TM: No.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

FK: What were your, what do you remember about the train ride down to Manzanar?

TM: The train ride to Manzanar? I thought it was alright. [Laughs] Everybody wrote back home and said what a good ride, and then the army, after that, and the evacuation got, rest of the evacuees had the day coach. I guess they did away with the Pullman car. Bainbridge Island guys were the only guys that got it.

FK: So what were your feelings when you got on the bus and you got to Manzanar? What were your feelings when you got there?

TM: Yeah, when you go through that desert there, sure is a desolate-looking place, I guess. Just like somebody else said this, but when you turned in at where Manzanar was, said, "What an awful place, it looks like. Hope we don't stop here." And sure enough they turned in, and there it was, half, various stages of construction there.

FK: What do you remember about the first few days in camp? What things do you remember about that?

TM: No, I don't remember too much about it. All I know is it was pretty dusty, anyway.

FK: How did the dust affect things?

TM: Pardon?

FK: How did the dust affect things?

TM: [Pause] [Shakes head]

FK: How was the food?

TM: Oh, it wasn't good.

FK: By "it wasn't good," what was it like? What was the food like?

TM: [Pause]

FK: What would have been a typical thing, you know, that you would have got for meals in camp?

TM: Yeah... certain days we had beans, I guess. Fish on some days, I used to... I didn't like that. That fish didn't smell very fresh, anyway.

FK: How did you pass the time in camp? What did you do?

TM: Oh, we applied for jobs for sixteen bucks a month. I was a plumber there one day, went around with the truck, you throw mattresses into the new building. Then I was a boiler-tender for two blocks, I guess. There was about six water heaters in each block, you know, and you had to keep 'em going, I guess.

FK: So you get paid at the end of the month, is that how they...?

TM: Yeah.

FK: And what did you do with your money when you got paid?

TM: [Laughs] Sixteen bucks a month? You spend it all at the store.

FK: So they had, they had a store in camp?

TM: Yeah.

FK: Tell me about the store in camp.

TM: Well, you could buy cookies, Cheez-Its, pop... stuff like that. I don't know if they had any dry goods store or not. You could order Sears-Roebuck, I guess.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

FK: So how long did you stay in camp?

TM: Huh?

FK: How long did you stay in camp?

TM: I stayed about six months maybe, altogether.

FK: And where did you go from there?

TM: Well, the first year, we got there in April, I guess. About May they said the sugar company was looking for some people to work in the sugar beets, so I joined up with those guys and went up to Rupert, Idaho. I stayed there about six months, I guess, until the frost started to fly there, and went back to camp. Next year, when the spring came, I went to Mesa Orchard -- the big apple orchard in Idaho -- and worked there all summer until the cold weather, and then I went back. After that I went to Chicago and stayed there about a year and a half until I got drafted, and then went to the army for eighteen months.

FK: So what process did you have to go through to leave camp, to either go work or go back to Chicago? What process did you have to go through?

TM: Well, we get... after you stay out a while, you apply for indefinite leave. They give you a, they give you a document saying that you're entitled to leave camp. All this, all this running around I did, nobody ever asked me for credentials or birth certificate. I had a birth certificate and everything, but nobody asked me except, until I got in the army, and then, then in the army, well, you got a uniform on and you get on the train, they really give you... see if you got AWOL. But nobody asked me for any other thing, birth certificate or anything while traveling, traveling around on the train.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

FK: So did you run into any problems when you went out of camp, like when you went out to work, or back in Chicago, as far as racial relations or anything like that, or people being suspicious because you were Japanese?

TM: No. Not a bit of that stuff.

FK: Well, tell me about being in Chicago.

TM: Well... hot in the winter -- hot in the summer and cool in winter, I guess.

FK: What did you do in Chicago?

TM: I worked in a machine shop.

FK: Were there quite a few guys that you knew that were in Chicago with you, or were you pretty much there on your own?

TM: Yeah, pretty much on my own. I noticed a few Bainbridge guys came in and, came and... they came and they left. They stayed a while and then went back, if they didn't get drafted.

FK: So how did you get a job in the machine shop in Chicago?

TM: I don't know, you just apply for it, I guess. They got all kinds of employment agencies, paying twenty dollars' worth, getting a job, I guess. And there's Department of Labor and all that.

FK: Now, in order to get out of concentration camp and go to someplace like Chicago, was there some paperwork you had to fill out? Did they keep track of you? What happens when you do that?

TM: Yeah, really, I didn't... I didn't really head for Chicago, I headed first to a place called Boone, Iowa, where the chick-sexing school. That's, I got clearance to go there. But then I, I quit the school. Then I had to go somewhere, didn't want to go back to camp, so I went to Chicago. That's where my brother was, so I moved in with him.


FK: I was wondering, what is, you said you went to chicken sex, chicken sex school?

TM: Yeah, chick sexing.

FK: Yeah, tell me about that. What is that?

TM: When they hatch a bunch of chicks, they don't know what, what it's gonna be, a pullet or a cockerel. And then wanna keep the pullets because they lay eggs, but the cockerels, they don't want because they're roosters. So the hatchery wanted to separate 'em and then they sell them separately. The roosters go to the fryer market, I guess. They're kept separate, anyway. And then the pullets would go to lay eggs, so they separate 'em day-old, I guess, and then and we'd tell 'em if they're pullets or roosters. Then they get paid. They paid for, get paid for each one, for separating them, I guess. There used to be a guy in Manzanar that lived in Block 3, that was a chick-sexer. And he got in, he used to get these Bainbridge guys together and I don't know if it even occurred to him, but he talked like it was a good profession to get into. It was not much work, but it paid good.

FK: Why did you decide to drop out of chick-sexing school?

TM: Oh, my hands were... weren't, they were too clumsy for that kind of stuff. But the Okazaki boys and Yosh Katayama -- they went to a different place -- but they became chick sexers. George Okazaki, I think he's an official in the Chick Sexing Association in, back in Philadelphia. I don't know how many of the Okazaki boys were sexers themselves, but I think there were several of them.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

FK: Well, sounds like you were moving around a lot. Tell me about being drafted.

TM: Pardon?

FK: It sounds like you were moving around quite a bit. Tell me about being drafted into the army.

TM: Oh, well, I got, they told me to report to Fort Douglas, I guess, Utah. That's... Fort Douglas, Utah? That's where I got inducted into active service. I was in the reserves, and already several other exams... so they sent me to Camp Fannin, Texas, for basic training and stayed there for about seventeen weeks, I think, or whatever it was there.

Meanwhile, they'd been trying to get me to go to Fort Snelling, language school, and I didn't wanna go there. So they said, "Okay, we'll send you to Europe then." But they give, give you a furlough first -- that's a leave, you know -- to go back, go back to camp for a while. That's what I was gonna do, and then they said, "All you Japanese guys, fall out here." Said, "You're on the way to Fort Snelling now." That was about wintertime, and they sent you to Fort Snelling there. Fort Snelling, there's real nice buildings there, all brick and all the classes were conducted there. But for the new recruits, well, they had tarpaper shacks back there, just like camp, only smaller, and about eight, eight person, people per cabin, I guess. The wintered us there for a while, during all that zero weather they have back there. They said, "Okay, the class starts soon," so they would move you back to these brick buildings here and go to school there. So that's what they did. I stayed nine months in the Japanese class there.

Meanwhile, they decided to move the school to Monterey, California, because they were gonna make a Veterans Administration offices there where Fort Snelling was. So here we packs up and move to Monterey there for about two months, I guess. Then they said, "Now, your eighteen months is almost up, and you can get out now. So if you want to go to Japan, well, you have to enlist for one more year." I said, no, that's it for me. So I got out of the army in less than eighteen months.

FK: So how would you compare being in the army and being in a concentration camp? How would you compare the two?

TM: Oh, the army's worse. Twice as worse. [Laughs]

FK: Why is that?

TM: Well, camp, you sleep in if you want to, you don't... in the army you got a bunch of no-brains hollering at you, you know, just to, just to make life miserable for all the recruits. Yeah, the army's the worst place I've ever been.

FK: Now, you said you didn't really want to go to Camp Snelling. Can you tell me why you didn't want to really go to Camp Snelling?

TM: Oh, because I didn't, I didn't care to learn any more Japanese or go to Japan. Anyhow, they didn't, they didn't need as many Japanese linguists or whatever it was, as they expected, I guess. Some people, like Tosh Ishihara, then they got in, they went as language interpreters and then they got a job in Japan in the civil service, I guess. They made a good thing out of, out of it. I don't think the majority of the guys got anything out of it.

FK: So when you went to Fort Snelling for MIS school, were there other people from Bainbridge in the school at the same time you were, or were you the only one there?

TM: Is what?

FK: Were there other people from Bainbridge, from the Japanese community that went to school at the same time you did, or were you the only one there from Bainbridge?

TM: Yeah, I was the only one at that time. I guess it was quite a few of 'em went, though, Paul Isaki, and Paul Sakai, and the Sakumas, Terashitas, Okazakis.

FK: So what year was it when you got out of the army, then? Was it after the war was over or was it before the war was over?

TM: Yeah, the war was over. The German war was over while I was still working. Then, then I think the Americans took a beating at the Battle of the Bulge, I guess, and that's when they called, that's when they got me, I guess.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

FK: Did all your brothers leave, leave camp, or, and did your mom stay in camp, or how did that work?

TM: Yeah, my mother never left camp. Yeah, Mort, he ran all over the place trying to avoid the draft. Finally he ended up in Sydney, Nebraska, ammunitions depot, and he was safe there.

FK: So he worked in the army ammunition depot?

TM: Yeah. Shig is a 4-F because he got a bum knee. He was, he was 4-F from the very beginning, so he didn't worry about anything. After Chicago, he went to New York and he lived there for about two years, I guess.

FK: So did your, did your mother go from Manzanar to Minidoka also with everybody else, then?

TM: Yes.

FK: And did she live alone, then, in the concentration camp?

TM: Yeah, I guess so. Shig was in New York and I was in the army, Mort was in Nebraska, so I guess she must've been alone.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

FK: So when you, when you left the army, where did you go?

TM: Well, I came back here.

FK: What was it like when you came back?

TM: [Laughs] Oh... things were pretty slow, I guess. I remember I applied for the "52-20 club". That's what you call, you're entitled to fifty-two weeks of twenty dollars a month or something, 'til you find a job or something. That's when I got in with the Olympic berries... I didn't have to go in every week.

FK: You said Olympic berries? Is that what you said?

TM: Yeah, I started in about '49, I guess, until about '72, I think. 1972 is when I quit.

FK: Why did you get into Olympic berries? Everybody else was into strawberries or something else, right?

TM: Yeah, 'cause Olympic berries, it's easier to get pickers, I guess. Nobody wanted to pick strawberries then.

FK: Didn't you end up doing something with Frederick & Nelson's or something?

TM: Yeah, they bought some. They wanted, they wanted it canned, so I used to have it done, canned in Kingston there, a co-op, then they quit. So I had to do it, so I set up a place and bought their machinery and I canned it myself for several years. Until they said, one year, they said, "Well, we don't need any more this year." I said, well, I wasn't gonna do it. By the time I get fed up with it, so I quit. [Laughs]

FK: And what did you do after that?

TM: I went to work in the shipyard as a welder. That worked all right a couple of years. In the summertime, I'd quit working the berries and in the wintertime, I'd go back to the shipyard. Well, I found out that you can make more money welding, so I quit the berries altogether.

FK: So how did you know how to do welding?

TM: Oh, I went to night school at Edison Technical.

FK: Was that after the war you went to Edison?

TM: Yeah. Well, they told me that the public school, the way everything was set up there, it wasn't the place to change jobs or to take that training. I told them that I had to learn how to weld to repair farm equipment and things like that, so I got by that way. And after, I did change my job, got out of farming.

FK: And then you worked at the shipyard for a couple years and then what?

TM: Yeah, that's a year-round job. Then the shipyard closed up, and then the State took over this yard down here. I was out of welding, and then they called me one day and said, "You want to come work down there?" Meanwhile, I have, I paid up by union, I was all paid up with the union whether I was working or not, so I came right in there and been there forty years. Forty years. [Laughs]

FK: The state ferries? Is that with the state ferries, maintenance?

TM: Yeah.

FK: Forty years, so when did you retire?

TM: Huh?

FK: When did you retire?

TM: Last July.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

FK: We're gonna be doing this memorial at Eagledale. And what are your feelings about that memorial? What do you think about that?

TM: I think it's kind of too elaborate. That girl that's... at that last meeting that they had all that stuff on the wall there, it's supposed to be continuous length of murals, sounds like that for how many, or all the way from the point to Taylor Avenue?

FK: Yeah, it's about, yeah, 276 feet long.

TM: Is there gonna be any, any shelter of any kind there for getting out of the rain or something?

FK: [Laughs] Well, we want to do an interpretive center there. How do you feel about an interpretive center? It'd be a building that they could put exhibits and things in.

TM: I think, I think there's too much stuff there... to vandalism, I think. How you keep the vandalism under control.

FK: So you think there might be some vandalizing, vandalism happening at that site?

TM: Yeah.

FK: If you were gonna give a message at that memorial or at that site, what message do you think we should be giving to ourselves or to other people?

TM: Oh... [pauses] it's gonna take some maintenance, you know. Somebody's gonna, responsible guy is gonna have to watch it.

FK: You know, most of us who have gone through this experience are gonna be passing away pretty soon, and pretty soon there won't be anybody left who's gone through this experience. Is there anything you think that our children should, or future generations should know, or any type of things we should leave them as far as legacies or anything like that?

TM: We should leave something that's solid enough not to get vandalized, I guess, torn to pieces. I don't know about...

FK: Well, do you think it'll upset some people so they'll vandalize it, or what do you think?

TM: Do I think that somebody's gonna vandalize it because they don't like us, you mean?

FK: Yeah, or because they don't like the memorial.

TM: No, I don't think, I don't think in that sense it would. Just young kids, just knocking a panel down here and a panel down there, just for the fun of it.

FK: Is there anything you'd like to say to future generations about your own experience or about your own life or anything that you think might be helpful to them?

TM: No. [Laughs] A wasted life.

FK: What do you -- you know, this is out of my own curiosity -- what do you envision happening to your property when you pass on?

TM: I don't know. Shig, Shig going to get it, if he outlives me. [Laughs]

FK: So, it'll be up to Shig to decide?

TM: [Laughs] Yeah.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

FK: Well, one of the things you mentioned when you were talking was about the Japanese Hall. What can you tell me about the Japanese Hall, how that happened and stuff? Do you remember? I know you were pretty young when that happened, but do you remember about the Japanese Hall? 'Cause I remember a little bit about it 'cause it was up when I was younger, too. So what can you tell me about the Japanese Hall?

TM: Well, they, a bunch before, they must have had a -- they wanted it back, anyway, when this minister of the Congregational church or something, administrating the hall before, when we just come back.

FK: Yeah, I don't know.

TM: Well, they, the Japanese guys wanted it back in the worst kind of way, and when they got it back, well then they found out that it needed a new roof. Cost money to maintain it, I guess. We did put a new roof on it. Then, then nobody wanted to be responsible for the rest of it. I guess they had an annual election or something. I think Ken Nakata got to be president and that, he didn't like that a bit, I guess. He said he would sell it, and he did, I guess. I don't know who all the officers were then, but I know Cicero and them were all active guys in that. I don't even know how much we got for it or anything like that.

FK: Well, how did it get built? Why did they build it and how did it get built?

TM: What?

FK: How did the hall get built, and when, when was it built?

TM: Oh, it was built about 1927, I guess. It was built about the same year that Bainbridge High School was built. I know, I know some people wanted it, when they built it, they wanted it a little bit bigger because you know how that was, it was a little undersized for basketball and stuff. There was hardly any place around the edge for offside line or anything. Some of the people that didn't have children, they wanted, that wasn't a big enough hall, and Japanese school.

FK: So the community members built it themselves? Is that, how did they go about doing that?

TM: Yeah, they built it themselves. I think Mr. Chihara, Chihara was the head of it. They knew enough, a little bit, enough about building something.

FK: So what kind of events did they hold at the Japanese Hall?

TM: I know the JACL, I think there was a branch of JACL that had, the old guys had the emperor's birthday, I guess, they celebrated something. There were several different days that, celebrations there. That hall wasn't necessary to do all that stuff. But, I mean, it didn't have to be that big. The only thing is that to play basketball, you had to be regulation size. And I think it wasn't even that. It was a little too small for that. And it had judo there, I guess.

FK: Where was the hall?

TM: Huh?

FK: Where was it? Where was the Japanese Hall?

TM: What was it?

FK: No, where?

TM: Oh, it's right up there on Grow, Grow Avenue. You know where the Olympian Condominium is? I think it was right directly south of that. It was set back little bit farther back from the street than the Olympian. It was about twice as far as the Olympian is from the hall, from the city street. I remember the guy that bought that. He built a house inside of the hall, you know. And then after he was done, he tore the outside down. I think it was, was that Frank Vivran? Or somebody, anyway, that bought... so the original foundation, I think, is still there, with another house on top of it. But the original hall was torn down, that's why you don't see it there.

FK: Was there, when they decided to sell it, was there much debate as far as selling it, or did everybody agree to sell it?

TM: No, there was no debate about it, I guess. That, I think it was about, right about 1960, my mother was dying, and I didn't go to any of those meetings. I didn't know it was sold or I mean, it was up for sale or anything. There was a... Mr. Katayama, I think, would have bought it if he knew it was for sale. He was, Rosenbaum, Leigh Rosenbaum said he'd buy that thing if it was for sale. I don't know how he ever got a hold of it.

FK: Okay, well, is there anything else you want to say or tell me before we end this interview?

TM: No, I don't have anything.

FK: Okay. Well, thank you, you did well. [Laughs]

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.