Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Jimmie Omura Interview
Narrator: Jimmie Omura
Interviewer: Chizu Omori (primary); Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: March 21, 1994
Densho ID: denshovh-ojimmie-01-0010

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CO: Okay, so now you've graduated and you couldn't go to the University of Washington. So what did you do?

JO: Well, I went, I went back up to Alaska and then as soon as I came back I took a bus, Greyhound bus to Los Angeles, and the following day I was an editor of a vernacular newspaper.

CO: What kind of paper was it?

JO: It was New Japanese-American News, which was a spin-off of the Japanese-American News, San Francisco. But just at that time, in 1932, the Japanese-American News had a big strike and they had to sell the Los Angeles branch.

CO: To whom? Who did they sell it to?

JO: You have me there. No, another Japanese, yes.

CO: What kind of paper was it?

JO: It's very similar to the paper you see, the Hokubei Mainichi or Rafu Shimpo.

CO: As editor, what were you interested in? What kind of news?

JO: Well, that was my first real interest in Nisei journalism. And it surprised me because my education in journalism was that it was a sort of a... well, what can I say? I... I can't think of the word, but a job that calls for reporters going out and digging out news and stuff like that. And the Nisei journalism was nothing like that. It was sedentary, you know, you just sit in the office and wait for the news to come in, and if you don't have enough news you clip out of the hakujin papers, you know and reduce it and stuff like that. And that, that didn't sit very well with me, but the Japanese-American News was a morning paper. So I could go out, I could cover boxing, football at the Memorial Coliseum, the Pacific Coast League, and everything else. So we had the advantage on the other Little Tokyo papers.

CO: When you say the next day you got a job, I mean, how, how was it you were hired just like that?

JO: Yeah, well, when I arrived in Little Tokyo, I happened to go the Iwaki drugstore. They have a lunch counter there, and I decided I better eat before I hunt around for lodging. And when I finished and was going to leave, we couldn't leave, because right at that time, all these people who worked in stores and office buildings were jamming the streets, you know, the streets were jammed. So I was just standing there, waiting for it to clear, when I heard my name called. And to my surprise, a couple boys that I knew, Kibei boys, in Alaska, had, were snaking through the crowd toward me. And they decided to take me up to their hotel and let me stay there that night. And they told me they were working for a newspaper, picking types, the Japanese types. And said that there was an opening at that newspaper for English editor and why don't I apply? So next morning I went to apply and was, got the job.

CO: Did you have any staff at all?

JO: No, I didn't have any staff; just myself. In those days, most of the English sections were understaffed.

CO: Okay, so now they're going to sell the newspaper so you don't have a job, is that it? Is that how you lose your job there, because they sell the newspaper?

JO: No, that was before my time. When I came on, why, I quit in February. And...

CO: Okay. So how long were you on that?

JO: Well, from October to February of '34. 1933 to 1934.

CO: What did you do next?

JO: Well, I went to Hollywood for a while and while I was there, about two weeks later I came out for a little, let's say, well, you miss your own kind. So I came out from, from Hollywood one Saturday night and some people that were organizing or reorganizing the Progressive News suggested that I quit and come into Little Tokyo. And I said I couldn't do that without a job or a place to stay. And they promised me they could solve that problem for me, which they did. And they got me jobs on the fruit stands, etcetera, various parts of the city. And the Progressive News was having such a hard time getting started, that finally got a job. These two Kibei boys I had previously recommended them to a job on San Pedro Street, and they decided they wanted to quit and go into the country [inaudible] or someplace like that. And they told me to replace them at this particular place, which I did, and I got fired after about two months. [Laughs] But just after I got fired, why, another friend from Seattle, his father was a commission merchant in the Ninth Street Market, and he suggested I could get a job there. And I got a job with another commission merchant and worked there. But the southern California heat bothered me. You know, I'm from a cooler climate like Seattle. And physically it was wearing me down. So I decided to come back to Seattle. But I had run into this fellow, Jofu Fuji, he was one of these wandering journalists. And he said, he asked me to stop in San Francisco at the New World Daily because a mutual friend was the editor there. So I finally agreed and I stopped in San Francisco and I was hired as English editor.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.