Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: Roy Matsumoto Interview
Narrator: Roy Matsumoto
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: Washington, D.C.
Date: November 8, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-mroy-02-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

gky: This is tape three with Roy Matsumoto on the 8th of November, the year 2000, in Washington, D.C. Okay, you don't know...

RM: Well, maybe I shouldn't mention, but I'm not degrading or downsizing other people's ability. We went to same school and all graduate, you know, and we got certificate of finishing the school satisfactory, you know, passed. But when it comes to ability, I don't want to say I'm better than other people. The thing is, so happened that I happen to know the dialect and in our favor you might, my favor. I understood what to put, whereas other people didn't accomplish anything. The three other boys went up there and nothing, see.

gky: Well, you must have been...

RM: No, no, nothing. Couldn't translate, they talk too fast and what they tried to figure out, then all they said about it, see. So I don't know. I'm happy because even though I have to risk my life staying up there and people shooting at me, but at least I accomplished -- I want to go bathroom but, you know, I have hold and see anything important, see. And they take a turn, other people go up there, see, I know traffic going on but then no report, see.

gky: But weren't you -- how did you feel? I mean, you're up there, you have to go to the bathroom, it's...

RM: Yeah, the only time I went down was to take a bathroom or eat, and I didn't even have my own foxhole, because that busy. And that pissed me off, you know. But I mean ahead, I know I got to get them as much as I can. So I cannot tell others to come up there, they go up there, nothing come down, see. Mine constantly -- that's why then what happened was they claimed that they went up in the tree but nothing show. Then when they got drunk, then Grant told me and one other people told me, "They got mad at you, you know, because you get the credit." "We been up in the tree, too."

gky: Tell me more...

RM: Then one guy mention that "that uneducated moron," see. Of course I'm uneducated. Other guys honor graduate of University of Hawai'i. Then they tell me I'm uneducated. Of course, I only got a high school diploma, but anyway...

gky: But it's circumstance, common sense, luck. I mean, there were a lot of factors that go into that. It's not just language ability, or it's not just, you know, it's not one thing or another.

RM: Yes. So happen that I happen to know this dialect. Then, well, people say, "How did you know? How did you learn?" Well, of course, I'm not native of that Kyushu island, but what happened was you have to into the back, my background, is when I got out of high school, the Depression time, and I couldn't get any job anywhere. So I worked in fruit stand like in the vegetable department in the supermarket, and the Japanese did that. So I was -- when I went to high school, Depression and my relatives couldn't help me, or the friend, because they have a hard time helping themselves. So I have to help myself to go to school, because I had an uncle but he was in own place in the city, in an apartment, so I cannot stay with him. So, finally, I told classmate maybe I have to drop out. So then, "Why?" Says, "Well, nobody support me and I have to eat." Then this classmate of mine -- I don't want to mention name -- but anyway, she happened to be a girl, went home and told, "I have a classmate there, you know, and no place to stay, he might have to drop out." Then they pity on me, so come to my place and went there in Long Beach. Then so happened that they had a wholesale produce market there. So, "I need a hand there, so if you work at nighttime, you have to get up at three o'clock in morning." It's okay with me because I could sleep in the afternoon, see. So I work at three o'clock, go there, then work until 7:30, half an hour before school starts. So I run to high school, then I never tardy. One time, I was late five minutes and got demerit. At the time, they issue 100 points to give you, and every time you do something wrong, deduct two point or three point. Then I was tardy so put out three -- you know, they cannot discriminate, so kind of do me a favor. If I'm late, I'm late, see, because that's a school rule there. So they took me, rest of them I have 100 because I never tardy or took off class or skipped. I tried to learn everything I could. Anyway, so I worked for them. Then so happened that they're from Fukuoka. I was picking up little bit. Interesting, see, thing I didn't know I got to learn. Then what happen later on, my auntie -- maybe I mentioned last time -- but she was a barber, haircut. One time, that was before war.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.