Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Shosuke Sasaki Interview
Narrator: Shosuke Sasaki
Interviewers: Chizu Omori (primary), Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 28, 1992
Densho ID: denshovh-sshosuke-02-0004

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CO: So in Seattle, so you moved to Seattle. And, so, describe the Japanese community in Seattle.

SS: Seattle was like going from -- it may sound extreme -- but the move from Pomeroy to Seattle, of course, that was right after my father died, too. So it includes the loss of my father and the loss of all my friends in Pomeroy, and it was probably the greatest shock that I ever, that I ever had to go through. I remember my sister and I felt very unhappy at that time. And I found that the Japanese in Seattle were very clannish. Since we had spent four and a half years in Pomeroy, we spoke English with a different accent from the Japanese that had been brought up in the Japanese section of Seattle. And many of the Nisei seemed to regard us with, as if we were outsiders who weren't quite equal to them. And we felt insulted, really, and we felt very lonely, I remember. In fact, the, the feeling of being an outsider never really left me until after I had finished college.

CO: You went to...

SS: I went to the University of Washington. And my education was interrupted by six years, during the '30s when the Furuya Bank, in which we had our money, failed back in 1930, '31. At that time we were living out on Bainbridge. We had gone out to Bainbridge in order to regain our health. After my father died, we eventually got into the apartment house and small hotel business, but those days the Japanese could not buy or own real estate.

CO: How did they have the hotels and such?

SS: Well, we had, we all, we ran them under leases. We got three- or five-year leases and at that time, the country was in a depression. Banks and real estate establishments had had a lot of real estate that they couldn't unload. They needed someone to run them. And so it gave the Japanese a chance to get into that business. At the time, the... anyway, when the bank failed and I couldn't go back to school, I didn't get back to school until 1937. I was in a hurry to get out so I took more hours than normal in some cases and also went to summer school and I finished up in '39. When I got out, I found that there was absolutely no work for me anywhere other than whatever work I could do around the apartment house that I was running. I feel sorry for the young people of today having difficulty finding work as compared with the ease with which such work was available up to the last few months. For us, anyone of Japanese descent, it was just a solid wall of prejudice. And there was absolutely no chance of getting any work. I remember when I first decided to major in banking and investments, in finance... it was called banking and finance. The man who was to be my faculty advisor sent me a note saying that he wanted to talk with me so I went to see him. And he, I became friends with... well, he became a good friend of mine, I should say. Anyway, his, the first thing he said to me, he said, "Do you realize that you're the first Japanese ever to sign up as a major for this subject?" And I said, "No, I didn't know that." He said, "Do you also realize that when you graduate, you're not going to be able to find work?" I said, "Yes, I'm aware of that." He said, "Then why are you taking the course?" I told him that I had known men who at some time in their life had a fair amount of money and yet who happened to end their lives almost flat broke. I said that, "As of now I'm running an apartment building with a lease and I can make my living that way." I wanted to take this course because if and when I ever came into money, I wanted to know how to hold onto it. And I remember Mr. Dakin, my faculty advisor, smiled when I said that. He said, "All right, you can take the course."

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1992, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.