Densho Digital Archive
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection
Title: Brooks Andrews Interview
Narrator: Brooks Andrews
Interviewer: Joyce Nishimura
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Date: October 7, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-aemery-02-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

JN: At that time when, during the early, early days when "Camp Harmony" and, were, was your family faced with discrimination from other Caucasians? And how did they feel about the people reacting to your friendship with all of the Japanese?

BA: In the Seattle area, we were in, lived in a community that was, was multi-racial and there was more of understanding, I think, of, of the events. So there wasn't so much in our immediate community, any problem with threats or taunts or anything like that. But my dad found that when would go down to immigration or some other, some of the local official offices to try to help our Japanese friends, that's where he found the real discrimination and taunts. And I don't know if there's any threats but maybe implied or veiled statements that certainly communicated to him that he was not loved by anyone there at the office. But I don't know what else to say at this point on that. Actually, well, I can go on to say, we, the discrimination, the threats, and the hard times really didn't occur until we moved to Twin Falls. When we arrived in Twin Falls we rented a house in there, and one day my dad went downtown to eat at a cafe, in downtown Twin Falls. And so he went in the cafe, sat down, and, and he waited and he waited and waited for quite awhile, and nobody came to serve him. And finally the owner of the cafe came out and talked to my dad, and knew that, knew my dad was, and our family was friendly to the Japanese internees. And instead of being served, this cafe owner picked my dad up and threw him out bodily onto the sidewalk. And, it's, that's where we faced real discrimination and taunts. There were, there were threats on the telephone, or there'd be mysteriously occurring flat tires that would happen more often than would necessarily be so. And this same cafe owner would come to stand in front of the house we were renting and he would shout epithets and, and threats and he would call us "traitor" and "turncoat," and, to me, the worst of all was he would call us "Jap lover." And so subsequent to that, he bought the house we were renting and forced, forced us to move. So we moved across the street to another house.

And that second house became the real center of the ministry among the internees there that were in Minidoka, because it became a hostel. It was a place... we had, I remember two young men who lived in the camp would stay with us during the week, in town because they were able to secure a pass because they had some sort of job in Twin Falls. And so they stayed with us during the week. One of the men's names was Jack Kudo, and I can't remember the other name now. But they were able to stay in town at our house, do their job, come home. And then on the weekends they would go back into the camp to their, to their families. And I remember in my dad's writing he said that at that particular house we had as many as 167 people each month coming and going through our house there. And some of those people were, besides having maybe a job in town, some of them were young men who were transitioning into the army to fight with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Others were maybe able to secure a pass or the okay to move out of the area to an area out of the exclusion zone on the West Coast. So we had people coming and going all the time. But to me it was, well, this is business as usual. It's nothing... it's hard to explain and get across to people unless they've lived it, and lived in the environment in which I was brought up in. It's hard to understand how natural it was for, for the events that we had coming and going in our house, to happen. Because we were involved in ministry and this was part of what God had called us to do. So it got to be quite a circus at times, but we always had a great time. I remember we had, we had weddings there, of, usually it was a young soldier who was going into the service and he got married before he went in the service. And we would have... Dad oftentimes would go into camp for maybe a funeral service or sometimes a marriage there. And then the local First Baptist Church in Twin Falls was where we were able to secure the okay to do baptisms there. And the strange thing about this was that for us, for my dad, being that it was an American Baptist church, in Twin Falls, the Japanese Baptist Church in Seattle is an American Baptist church denomination. But we had to get the okay from the leaders of the First Baptist Church in Twin Falls to do baptisms there. And, which I thought was odd. You'd think, okay, this is a sister church, these are people who are being born into the faith, why do we have to go through this paperwork, to get that okay?

One time my dad was, had two Issei men in the backseat of apparently a car that he was driving at that time, and they were in a town in southern Idaho. And I don't know where he's, where he was taking them but he stopped at a gas station for, for gas. And he sat in the car and the station attendant stood by his office there. And he waited and finally he came out and he looked in the back seat there, and he said to my dad, "Are those Japs?" And, my dad said, "Those are, are fathers whose sons are fighting for you and me." But he still didn't give him any gas, so he had to move on to another station. And the puzzling thing to me is, being Second World War, there was gas rationing, tire rationing, but somehow he got the gas to be able to make so many trips from Minidoka back to Seattle, roundtrip to pick up belongs from the, from the church gymnasium. He made about fifty-six round trips. And this was before the days of the freeway. And it, sometimes he went up through Spokane and that way and then west to Seattle. But the average roundtrip was about fifteen hundred miles. So, it's a puzzle to me where he got gasoline to make all these trips, but he did.

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