Densho Digital Archive
Japanese American Film Preservation Project Collection
Title: Dave Tatsuno Interview II
Narrator: Dave Tatsuno
Interviewer: Wendy Hanamura
Location: San Jose, California
Date: May 17, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-tdave-03-0006

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WH: So Dave, you taught high school for many years behind barbed wire.

DT: Not many years, no. I just, one semester.

WH: One semester?

DT: Because I was manager of the camp store for two-and-a-half years. And then I quit that position because I went out to help my brother-in-law, who was an architect, run a ranch in Springville, Utah. And so I helped him for about three months, you know, we did all the spraying and all the things, he had all kinds of fruit and all that.


DT: When I became chairman of the Youth World Committee at the San Jose YMCA, the chairman preceding me was a professor, Dr. George Brunset at San Jose State. And I felt quite humbled by the thing, and I told the committee of twelve person at lunch there that, "I'm dedicating this service in memory of the son I lost, as a living memorial." And believe it or not, that ended up on flying a quarter of a million miles for the YMCA. I never offered, but they said, "Dave, will you go?" "Will you come?" And so I was in Geneva, Switzerland, for the World Meeting, I was at that World Meeting in Tokyo, Japan, I was back east so many times, you know, back, back and forth. I did all that. It's, when you think about it, gee, how did that all happen? But as a living memorial, it happened.

WH: What, why didn't you ever leave camp? You and Alice probably could have gone and worked in Salt Lake City or Chicago.

DT: Yeah, I think we could have, but, you see, I had my father, and my father was near eighty, and it was hard to relocate with an old person. And I looked around, I looked around Wisconsin, Sheboygan and all, but I didn't see anything. And I applied for some position at department stores, but they wouldn't hire you. So it just went on until finally I said, "Oh, we have the home, we have the house in San Francisco," so we said, "We might as well go back." So that's what happened. But because of the family I stayed. If I was single or with my wife and I, we would have jumped out, but with my elderly father there, figured that might as well stay until we got back.

WH: Now, what did you try to teach your, your students that semester you taught at Topaz high school?

DT: Well, I enjoyed the teaching. I gave them much of my philosophy, too, you know. And so it was very interesting. Strange, I wonder, I didn't have my public speaking material from Cal at all. How did I teach so many of the things about public speaking, but I did. And I'm wondering to this day, what did I actually use as material? But it was fun. My largest class was thirty students, smallest class was about fifteen or something. But five classes, hundred and, 120 students in total, all seniors in high school.


WH: To what do you attribute all these good coincidences?

DT: Well, God works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform, I say. It's not me, you see, it's something beyond yourself. Like for example, in Rome, I'm taking movies as usual, and I'm at the Trevi fountain. Trevi fountain is not a round fountain; it's a big fountain against a big building. And to get that in my scope, I had to go across the street, run up the stairs, to get the whole thing in. And just as I finished taking it, another tourist comes up with a camera and says, "You got a good angle there." And he spoke English, so I said, "Where are you from?" He says, "San Jose." And of all things, I said, "What do you do?" He said, "I work for General Electric, and I make a tour of Europe now." "You work for General Electric? I have a very good friend who works for General Electric, in my church, Methodist Church." And I gave the name and he said, "I head five engineers, he's one of my five Engineers." So I come back and I tell him the story, and we have a little conference at church. Luncheon, I'm sitting there, and a tall Caucasian fellow comes and sits in front of me. I said, "What do you do?" He said, "I work for General Electric." "Oh, General Electric," I tell the story. When I told him the story, he says, "Oh, I'm one of the five engineers, too." Can you imagine? [Laughs]

WH: You were saying earlier, Dave, that you try to impart some of your philosophy to those kids in Topaz. What, tell me, what is that philosophy?

DT: I'm not sure what I said, but some of the thought that I had, like it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, so easy to be, to curse the darkness about evacuation, about being kicked out and all that. No. Light a candle. So here I am, busy, running all over the United States buying for the store, you see. I taught Sunday school, I taught public speaking. In other words, accentuate the positive. Negative doesn't get you anyplace.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Film Preservation Project. All Rights Reserved.