Densho Digital Archive
Preserving California's Japantowns Collection
Title: David Matsuoka Interview
Narrator: David Matsuoka
Interviewers: Jill Shiraki (primary); Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: December 10, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-mdavid-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, so today is Thursday, December 10, 2009, we're in the home of Gene and Jane Itogawa. We're doing an audio interview with David Matsuoka. We have Jill Shiraki as primary interviewer, and then Tom Ikeda is helping her. And doing the audio, recording the audio is Dana Hoshide. So go ahead, Jill, why don't you start?

SY: Okay, thank you for coming to visit us and talk with us about your memories of Walnut Grove. So can you tell us when you were born and where? When and where you were born?

DM: I was born December the 21st, 1929, in little town of Walnut Grove.

JS: Okay.

TI: Wow, so that, you're going to turn eighty this month?

DM: That's right, December I'll be eighty.

TI: You'll turn eighty. Well, congratulations, that's a milestone.

DM: I'm still, I'm like a kid. I'm afraid of cameras. [Laughs]

JS: But you've got some great stories to tell, and we'll be able to share this with your family.

DM: Well, really, I don't remember too many things. But I know I can say a few things.

JS: Okay. So you don't have to worry so much about the details. We had Louie's wife translate it, and I have for you just a summary we found in the Kumamoto-ken book, a little bit of history about your father...

TI: Well, Walter's wife, not Louie's wife.

JS: Oh, yeah, Walter's wife. I'm sorry, Walter's wife did a translation, which is nice. So we have some names and dates, little bit about a history. And we found out that your father first started a shoe store in Sacramento before all of you were born. And there was a lot of competition there, so it wasn't going too well, and he decided to then move to Walnut Grove and open a shoe store there. And before that, when he first came, he was in Vacaville, did some farm labor, then he worked at the hospital, I think, which you guys, you and Walter had told me about. But I think what we didn't know is that he had had another shoe store before the one he opened in Walnut Grove.

DM: Are you referring to my dad?

JS: Yes.

DM: See, those things I didn't know, Vacaville and all that, Sacramento.

JS: So where are you in the birth order? You're number... oh, you're, like, number six?

DM: Where was I?

JS: Yeah. 'Cause there was how many siblings in your family? How many children in the family?

DM: Okay, there was seven of us.

JS: Seven of you.

DM: (We) have five boys and (two) girls, so I have four brothers and two sisters.

JS: And you're number... seven?

DM: Number seven, that's right.

JS: Number seven, okay. Great.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

JS: So can you share some memories of growing up in Walnut Grove, like what a typical day was like?

DM: What I did?

JS: Yes.

DM: Well, when you have a small town and then poor, so any kind of games we have is toys made out of cans, or kick the can, they call it, we used to play. Hide and seek. At night, we used to climb up on some of the hotels' stairway and hide. The small town, there's a lot of places you can hide. We used to play that, hide and seek.

JS: So how many people would be playing hide and seek?

DM: Usually about four or five of us. And then we used to, if it was even players, we split out three men or three men, six, they're going to start looking for where they're hiding.

JS: Oh, so you'd play teams? Like one team would hide and the other team would search? Uh-huh. Anything else?

DM: What else did we do? There wasn't much to do. But that little town, the whole town people built a baseball diamond, you know. This one farmer let us use that, so many acres, and so Japanese people built the town baseball diamond.

JS: Do you remember when that was being built?

DM: It was already there when I was...

JS: Okay. Can you describe it a little bit, the baseball diamond? Describe what it looked like.

DM: What's it look like?

JS: Yeah, and what was unique about it.

DM: It was real, it was not a big one, but enough people for the whole town (and more) to... so when the out of town people used to come, they said, "You got a nice baseball diamond." And they used to play for daytime only, then the white people wanted to use it for softball, so they put in the light so they could use it at nighttime.

TI: So it must have been a really nice field.

DM: Yes, that baseball diamond, for the size of the town, I thought that was beautiful, made.

JS: So there were bleacher seatings, and how many people could sit there?

DM: That I don't know, but it's... for a small town it, it had enough room for our whole town to get in there, I guess, so it's pretty big. And as a kid, we used to get paid for going after the ball, so they have two guards on the right and left field, and they tell you where the ball went, outside, and so the people run to get the ball, see. We used to get... I forget how much they pay us, nickel for a ball or something. Then I used to keep score, we used to get twenty-five cents for that, nine innings, there's a big scoreboard on the back (behind center fielder) that you could hang the numbers up every time, the score.

TI: Oh, so it was like those old-fashioned ones where you hang the numbers...

DM: It's a big old block with a number on it, see. So you just hang that up. There's two of us because that sign, if you had a boxful, it's heavy, you know. (Narr. note: At the end of the inning they score five runs, they will ring the bell five times.)

TI: And did you run the scoreboard for both the Japanese games, baseball games, and the Caucasian, the white...

DM: Well, I don't know if Caucasian used it or not, I don't know about that. (No, only Japanese).

JS: So did you, did any of your siblings play on the baseball team? Anyone in your family?

DM: No. We weren't athletic at all.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

JS: So I remember when we spoke before, you told me you also worked concessions. Can you tell us about that?

DM: Worked?

JS: At the softball games in the evening, you used to have a little part-time job?

DM: (Yes). They had a candy store, or whatever they serve, whatever. So I was the only one Japanese kid that used to work on that. So he gave me a box of candy to go sell it, and a few change in my pocket, and I got out to the stand and (to sell)... and all those kids used to follow me around. [Laughs]

JS: So what did they sell?

DM: They have candy and... what else did they have? This is back in the '30s. Had a lot of stuff for... he didn't have any hotdogs or hamburger or whatever that is. Just mainly I think he had... did he have popcorn? It's been a while, so I can't remember.

JS: How old were you when you were working there?

DM: I think I was about ten. So, '39, yeah, I'd say I was ten years old.

JS: So how did you get that job? Who asked you to do that?

DM: I don't know.

JS: You don't remember?

DM: No. It's just, probably come right out and said, "You want to work?" "Sure."

JS: So did you do other jobs in town? What other jobs?

DM: Yes. That same guy, relative, owned the Walnut Grove theater. (This was in 1956). I used to run that theater. When I worked in the Walnut Grove post office, and I was gonna get married, so I needed the extra money. So when he asked me to work at the theater, so I could run it, sure, I tried. And he had me working Saturday and Sunday, and he was watching me, and, "You could do it by yourself." So I started, he started giving me Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

JS: Wow. So you would run the front of the theater?

DM: (Yes), the theater.

JS: And what was, what was your job there?

DM: Running the movie, you know...

JS: Oh, actually do the --

DM: (Yes), projection, the two projections. That was exciting.

TI: And can you describe that? Was it like big reels? Was it film projection?

DM: Oh, yes. You know, the regular, not sixteen, but what, I don't know what (size reel).

TI: So these were big, heavy reels that you...

DM: (Yes), it's about that size reel, you know.

JS: Can you tell us about the...

DM: This was back in the '50s, because after the camps.

JS: Right. So before the war, the Japanese had their own theater and entertainment? Do you remember that?

DM: Well, that, (yes), that's... they built that, too. Like auditorium, arena. And they'd show Japanese movies in the area, stage (and some live plays).

JS: Do you remember, did you go and watch the films, the Japanese movies? Do you remember that?

DM: (Yes), we used to go see the movies, Japanese movies. But that building is old, so we used to sneak in, all the kids used to sneak in. [Laughs] (This was in 1938-1940). 'Cause we didn't have no money, so, you know... and Japanese movies, we don't care to see that much, so kids, you know how kids are, we'd all sneak in there and go into that theater.

JS: And so did they have a, do you remember the projection, the equipment they used there at the movie theater?

DM: For the Japanese?

JS: (Yes).

DM: (...) Well, it's similar to the one, I guess, one they use in American theater.

JS: Uh-huh. Did you ever go see any of the live performances and plays?

DM: You know, as much as I'm shy, I used to perform, too.

JS: You did?

DM: (Yes). Well, you got the lines, so you just read the lines, more or less. You memorize the lines, so that was no problem. But if you had to get up and make a speech, that was a no-no. [Laughs]

JS: So what kind of performance were you in?

DM: Well, this lady that used to, like I was in the Methodist church, so every Christmas time we used to have a program, and she used to have a show (...). And there's three of us that's always in the same group. Her brother and me and another (guy), couple other gals, we used to perform all the time.

JS: What were the names of the other, the others that performed with you? Do you remember any names?

DM: Other what?

JS: The other people who performed with you who were in the play with you? Do you remember the names of the other people?

DM: Yes. Goro -- there's a picture of him, I think -- Goro Kawamura, the oldest sister was a teacher, an instructor. And who else was there? (Shoji)...

JS: That's okay.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

JS: Okay. So what I was asking is, the plays that you were in for the Methodist church, so what type of play was that? Was it like a Christmas pageant?

DM: (Yes), it's like a... well, it's not only Christmas program, but variety of...

JS: Variety?

DM: Yes. So it was, oh, different type of thing.

JS: And would you perform at the Japanese theater or...

DM: (Yes), at that stage.

JS: At the theater stage. What other activities do you remember affiliated with the Methodist church?

DM: At the church?

JS: Uh-huh, what did you participate in with the church?

DM: Not too many things.

JS: Not too many?

DM: But we used to perform for the other talent show. It doesn't have to be Methodist, but Walnut Grove, you know, they have, every now and then they have group does something. Same old instructor, her name was Marge Kawamura, she's the one that picked me every time to perform, (yes).

JS: Okay. So she was the director and then she would give you guys a script, and you would perform for the talent show.

DM: So when we went to the camp, Amache camp, we performed the same program that we did in Walnut Grove.

JS: Wow.

DM: She made us do that.

JS: So you're an aspiring young actor. [Laughs]

DM: Good thing it was an already-made speech, so I didn't have to worry about what to say.

JS: Oh, that's great.

TI: At the Methodist church, did you have Sunday school?

DM: Yes, Sunday school.

TI: And so describe that, the service and the Sunday school. How did that work on Sundays? Did you go to church first and then Sunday school, or Sunday school... how did that work?

DM: Yes, we had a service first and then they had a Sunday class. Just two stories, so they have a service on the downstairs, and then upstairs was a classroom.

TI: And so I'm sure they talked about religion. Did they ever talk about, sort of, like, American values or anything like that during Sunday school?

DM: No...

TI: You don't remember anything like that?

DM: Mostly about religious stuff, that's all.

TI: And who were the teachers at Sunday school? Who taught you?

DM: Oh, god. Most of the residents, older, older ladies. And the minister was Japanese.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So Sunday school was all, was it in Japanese, the Sunday school and the services, or was it English?

DM: No, in English.

TI: And Sunday school, too, was it in English?

DM: Yes, English. 'Cause us guys were kids yet, so, you know, if they start speaking Japanese strongly, we wouldn't know.


TI: Yeah, so that's why I was curious. Because a lot of times, there are some places were Japanese was always spoken, so I was curious, in the church, it was English, though. So were they like older Nisei that taught Sunday school?

DM: (Yes), some that are older.

JS: So when did you learn English? Did you learn English when you went to school or... when did you start speaking English?

DM: English?

JS: Uh-huh.

DM: Well, we speak English in Walnut Grove, but most of the time, small towns all Japanese, so they all speak Japanese. But at school, we speak English.

JS: I see. But since you were the youngest and your older siblings were already going to school, they were speaking English. Did they speak English at home, or Japanese at home?

DM: Well, half and half, you know, they speak Japanese, too. It's a small town, and that's all they speak is Japanese. So you know, but earlier time it was all Japanese. That was the bad part of it. I wish I would have learned English better before.

TI: But about your Japanese, you earlier said the Japanese that you used in Walnut Grove was kind of like a broken Japanese. So when you went to maybe other places like Sacramento or others, did the Japanese, was the Japanese different in other places?

DM: Well, when you go other places, we don't speak Japanese. But in camp, those people knew where we were from, 'cause we speak funny. [Laughs]

TI: That's why I was curious. So it's almost like a dialect, almost. Like a Walnut Grove, they knew that you were from...

DM: It's like a broken English, like, you know, some Japanese. We don't speak right, I guess. That's why I don't say much; I stay quiet. [Laughs]

<End Segment 5> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

JS: So the Methodist church, there's a... I've been inside. It's a really nice building, and there's a big social hall.

DM: You've been inside?

JS: I've been inside when they had a walking tour, and there was an artist who put up an installation inside, so we got to walk inside, downstairs only. But there's a nice kitchen, or there's a kitchen and a nice social hall. So what types of activities happened in the social hall?

DM: That's where they held, like... was it Halloween night? They used to have a talent show-like, in that church. It's small, but, you know...

JS: Uh-huh. How did you celebrate Halloween in Walnut Grove?

DM: We didn't parade or anything like that.

JS: No dressing up and trick-or-treating? No, just a party?

DM: Just some people wore mask or whatever, you know, but other than that. And my brother did a talent show in Halloween, and he won a coffee pot or something. You know, during that time, it was just a pretty good act, I guess. [Laughs]

JS: Oh, so there were prizes for the talent show.

TI: So how did they decide who won a talent show? How did they decide who was the winner? I mean, so people would go up there...

DM: People, they must have judges. I don't know how they did that. They were in, says, "You got it," so... [laughs].

<End Segment 6> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

JS: So can you tell us a little bit about, or can you tell us about the school you went to?

DM: School?

JS: Uh-huh. Can you describe the school?

DM: Oh, that was a bad one. I think we had to go two years in first grade, low and high first, because of our... I guess we'd speak too much Japanese or something. But as far as school goes, we didn't have that much problem. Only that during the second and third grade, the teacher was really mean. Mean teacher we had. Her name was Ms. Pryor. Pryor, you know? Yeah. I know a lot of kids got beat up by her. You know Chinese kid, (Mrs. Pryor) used that long stick and then whack. You could hear 'em crying in the back room. That's how mean that teacher was.

JS: So you went to the Walnut Grove Oriental school?

DM: That's it.

JS: What was the name of it? Bates...

DM: Oriental (School).

JS: Bates Oriental School.

DM: Oriental elementary school, I guess. (Bates was named after camp).

JS: And where was that school located?

DM: The first one was located by the... I don't know, you saw the new one? The latest one? Okay, there used to be a railroad track, and then further down from where that was, used to be the old one. The picture was taken, that's the old one. Then when I was second, third grade, I could start coming to this new one, so they must have been open about '38, I guess. See, that picture was '36, so '38 must have been the new school opened up.

JS: Do you remember the Oriental school was also built by the Japanese, the first one.

DM: I don't know about the first one. No, I don't think the Japanese built this new one.

JS: Okay, not the new one.

DM: I don't know. I don't know if the Japanese built the old one or not, I don't know that.

JS: Okay.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

JS: So how many Chinese were in your class? So it was mostly Japanese and Chinese?

DM: (Yes), and the Filipinos. (That is why it was called Oriental School. No whites.)

JS: Filipino.

DM: And I think, I don't know if there was any Mexican or not.

JS: Mexican or Hindu? No? So was it...

DM: Mostly Chinese and Japanese.

JS: Mostly Chinese and Japanese.

DM: And a few Filipinos, I guess.

JS: Okay. And how did the Chinese and Japanese get along, the students?

DM: It was okay. We didn't have any problem. But... when was that? '38 or '39, the new school that we had, outside there was, Japanese had a carrots farm, he was growing, and the Chinese kids used to go there and pull the carrots and they would eat it. So that farmer told 'em, "Don't do that." Couple times, they would start doing it again, so the farmer started going after 'em, they started beating that old farmer up, Chinese guys. So when the Japanese guys saw that, man, they went after those guys and beat the heck out of those Chinese kids. And most of the Japanese know the judo, see, they even broke a guy's arm.

JS: So were there, those were the students that were beating up...

DM: Yeah, see, these Chinese guys were older Chinese. I guess you could call it Chinese Kibei because they're the ones that just came from China. So among us, they're two, three years older than us, same grade. But they beat the farmer up, so our older Japanese went after them. And that happened on a Thursday, so Friday -- they're from, Chinese from Locke. So Friday, none of the Locke Chinese showed up to school. [Laughs] They all got beat up. (Just the old time Chinese showed up and) the gals, but the guys didn't show up. But the local Walnut Grove Chinese, it didn't bother them, so they could come to school.

TI: So that's interesting, let me see if I can summarize all that, make sure I understand. So these Chinese, so there was a, at the new school, there was a farm right by, Japanese farm, with carrots. And so these Chinese boys would pick the carrots and eat 'em, the farmer said, "Don't do that."

DM: "Don't do that," right.

TI: But then when they still did that, the farmer came out to get mad at them, and the Chinese boys started beating up the Japanese farmer. So the Japanese boys saw that...

DM: All the Japanese boys, (yes). (Narr. note: Not all, we were too young to be involved in the fight.)

TI: And they went there and they started fighting with all the Chinese boys. And they broke one boy's arm, and then the next day, none of the Chinese boys came to school because they were all beat up or afraid?

DM: (Yes). Well, yeah, afraid.

TI: But it's interesting, so there was a difference between the Chinese at Walnut Grove and the Chinese at Locke. There seemed to be some difference.

DM: Yeah. Local Chinese people we'd get along with, no problem. But the one from China, they just came from China, I think. And we had a couple of Japanese from Japan, too, you know, Kibeis, I guess, they were in there because they're tough. They're the ones that think, broke your arms or something. But after that, that farmer didn't have to worry. Those guys never go to that farm.

JS: What else do you remember about the Chinatown in Walnut Grove, the Chinese side? Did you ever go to the other...

DM: Well, they'd had a big fire in that town. I don't know what year that was, but after that, they started building homes. And Chinese people always have a gambling house, like a keno, they called it. They had about four or five gambling house. And then most of the people that go was Filipinos. They're farm laborers, so they earned a whole month and blow it on the gambling house. But there was a few Japanese in that area, too.

JS: But as a young boy, did you ever go to any of the... were there restaurants there or any stores?

DM: No, no. There was one restaurant, we used to have lunch. When we were going high school, we used to go there for noodle, you know, bunch of guys go over there for noodles.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

JS: And so talk a little bit more about the Japanese section and some of the businesses or stores that you used to go to.

DM: Like, well, gee, there's how many grocery stores that had... let's see, one, Oda, Hayashi, Inaba, Tsuruda. Well, they used to have about three, four grocery stores, a small town like that. And we had a (butcher store called Kuwabara also, and a) drugstore, shoe shop, dry cleaning, and a lot of the hotels, like that seasonal worker comes in for... I don't know if they call that hotel or what is it.

JS: Boarding house?

DM: Boarding house, and then they had a couple of bath, private bathrooms, you know.

JS: Bathhouse.

DM: Yeah, they had two of those.

JS: Did you go to any of the bathhouses?

DM: Huh?

JS: Did you go to the bathhouse?

DM: Well, not when I was a kid, but when I was older, a couple times we would, you know.

JS: So when you were a kid, you had a bath, ofuro at home?

DM: At home, (yes). We had a bath, (Japanese-style). In fact, my dad had a, when we came back from the camp, you know where Japanese school is, that's where a lot of people went because they have no place to stay after they got back from the camp. My dad tell us to take a bath early so that people from that Japanese school could use the bath. Dad had it opened up for the people in the Japanese school.

JS: Was there a certain order in which you had to take a bath? Like if you were the youngest, did you have to take the bath last?

DM: Always.

JS: Always.

DM: Always. Oldest one takes the... [laughs].

JS: Takes the bath first? And then did you have to heat the bath and get it ready, or did you have any chores like that?

DM: No, no. Ours was nice. The way Dad had it made, you press this little switch, and it comes on automatically, the heater. So we have a shower, you wash yourself before you go in. So a lot of time, older guys put a lot of water in to cool it off, we just pull the switch and it turned the heater on, so it comes right back on.

TI: How big was the bath? How many people could go in there?

DM: About four. It's a square, but we were small, so four could go in. [Laughs]

JS: So can you tell us a little bit about the shoe business that your father had?

DM: That's one thing I don't know too much, because Dad didn't want no kids to be at that store, see. We were small yet, so he didn't want nobody at the store. Only time we could go to the store was some emergency or something happened or something, but other than that...

JS: He didn't want to be bothered.

DM: No. Only time we got to go in was when the store was closed. [Laughs]

JS: And so who helped your father at the store?

DM: Well, he had his brother's son, cousin, from Hawaii, and he was doing it for about three years. And my oldest sister was in UC Berkeley, and when the economy started going bad, he had to lay off that cousin and had to let my sister that was going to quit the school to help him. I thought that was pretty sad because she was a pretty sharp woman, my sister. Had to quit school to help Dad.

JS: So she never finished at UC Berkeley.

DM: No. After that, the camp, so we had to go to camp.

TI: And this sister, was this Bessie?

DM: Bessie, the oldest one, (yes). So I think she was (working at the store) in '39 and '40, so '41, (before) the camp. So she helped about two or three years.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

JS: So can you describe your father, like what he was like, his personality?

DM: It's hard to describe. [Laughs]

JS: He was a good businessman.

DM: Huh?

JS: He was a successful businessman.

DM: He was, until the war broke out. Because I think he paid somewhere around three and a half or four dollars a pair of shoes, which he used to sell for six or seven dollars, right? When the war broke out, this guy came and bought the whole shoe for fifty cents a pair. So he lost what little money he had, he had to pay that off to pay that. So he was broke, more or less. This guy got fifty cents a pair. So I feel sorry for Dad. After all that time working, it got to the point where it could just about start, all the shoe belongs to him. But it didn't work out that way.

JS: So can you describe your mother, what she was like and what she would...

DM: Mother was always quiet, and she never gave us heck. [Laughs] She was a real good mother. Dad was strict, but Mother was real nice.

JS: So she wasn't involved with the shoe business either, your mother?

DM: Oh, no. Especially with seven kids, she...

JS: She was busy taking care of all the children.

DM: She was a good mother.

JS: And was she active, like, at the church or in any of the organizations?

DM: No. She used to go to church, but she was not...

<End Segment 10> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

JS: Do you remember any of the holidays celebrating, like, New Year's? Do you remember New Year's?

DM: Yes, New Year's, Japanese have all the business, I mean, homes open, so we had to go to... and this lady said, "You got to come back," you know. So they give you a little shot of drink, and every time we go to the place you got to have a little shot of drinks. They say it's sake, but I don't think so. But after a while, after second or third house... [laughs]. So we quit drinking every time we're heading out, see. But all the houses opened up for us. The whole town is, that's how it is, Japanese.

JS: So how many houses would you go to?

DM: At least five that I know of. A lot of places we'd have to turn it down because it's too much.

JS: Too much.

DM: So we'd usually go to the, where the kids, so we'd know the kids.

JS: So you'd go to your friends' houses, where you had...

DM: Yes, more or less friends.

TI: Would there be times -- I'm thinking about the town and how it was set up -- earlier you mentioned that the doors were just like wide open, people could kind of go in. Did you ever eat at other, like your friends' houses sometimes? You're playing and maybe eat at someone else's house, or did you always go home to eat?

DM: You mean for dinner or lunch?

TI: Yeah, lunch maybe, or...

DM: That's one thing we didn't do. When it's dinnertime, we'd go home, or lunchtime we'd go home.

TI: How about things like discipline? If say you're with a group of boys, and maybe you're doing something that maybe is wrong or, like, mischievous. Did some of the adults in town scold you guys, like, "Don't do that," or things like that? How was that?

DM: Well, one thing my dad was strict on was if you borrow somebody's bike, he tells you, "Take it back." He says, "Take it back where you got it." He didn't want nothing that belongs to you.

TI: So don't borrow things, you mean? Always return...

DM: Right. He was strict on that.

TI: And why do you think that was? Why was he so strict about...

DM: I think he believed in honesty, I guess, or whatever you call it. "If it don't belong to you, take it back."

JS: So do you remember mochitsuki? Did you used to make mochi?

DM: Oh, yes. That's the one thing we always had in our house. There was Fujisaki, Yoshiwara, just about three other families used to come and we had a two-car garage, it's not a big one, but it's two-car garage, enough for, we used to have three (other) families with us, four families, pound that mochi. Dad had a big old metal, with a cement inside for the pounding, and he had a pot for, put kettles and all that heat. And then he had a big bowl laid out for the ladies to... it's all set up for, so we had to stay away because we were too small. And then all the older boys pound on the... we had nice mochi for, yeah, four of us, four families. We make it, one for the one family, then next group is for next family.

JS: And would you get to taste the fresh, hot mochi? Freshly made?

DM: Well, my dad used tell us small kids to stay away from here until it's, you know, get in the way. But like you say, we had mochi. Mother used to say sure, to go, okay, get out there. [Laughs]

JS: And how did you eat your mochi? Did you eat it with any, like, shoyu and sugar or kinako?

DM: (Yes).

JS: Which way?

DM: That's... what do you call that? Satoujuuyu? You know, you mix it with sugar and shoyu, and then just the mochi, you kind of heat it up so, stretch it out and then... I don't know what you call that thing, but that's good.

JS: That's good.

DM: In fact, it was in the army I had that.

JS: In the army? Who made mochi in the army?

DM: (Yes), I was in Korea, when I was on R&R, you heard of R&R? Rest and Recuperation? Went to Tokyo where my sister was. (It was during New Year's Eve). And on the way back, I stopped and got that mochi and shoyu, and Japanese sugar. So when I brought it back to the, Korea, I started making it and shoyu, and it tastes awful. I mean, really bad. And I (tasted) that sugar and the sugar was flat, 'cause (sugar made during wartime was artificial, I think). So this guy from Italia, I mean, Italy, Italian (American) guy from Missouri, he went to the mess hall and got American sugar. Man, what a difference. So he says, "Ask your mother to, father to send some more." [Laughs] So I wrote Dad to send me some more, and he'd send me a five-pound mochi and a shoyu, and we got the sugar from the mess hall. We had a good time. But he was the only son in the family, and his mother taught him how to make spaghetti. She sent all the raw stuff, now, raw stick, or what do you call that?

JS: The noodle?

DM: Even the spaghetti sauce, he made everything right there in... yeah. We had, I don't know if you know the sembei can, we had it folded up like a pan, we used that as a pan and yeah, he made all that sauce. And him and I, we had a spaghetti and meatball. He was a good cook.

JS: So you would just make it in your...

DM: In the tent.

JS: In the tent?

DM: Yeah.

TI: That's great. So he shared Italian food, you shared Japanese food.

DM: Our, we were in the anti-aircraft group from Alabama, and most of those people don't know any Japanese food or Italian food, so just two of us. [Laughs]

JS: So what year was that?

DM: Well, I was in the service '51 and '52, so mostly in '51, I was in Korea nine months.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

JS: So can we back up, and before the war, before World War II when your father, you said your father had to sell all of the shoes, someone came, what else happened after the evacuation?

DM: After we came back from camp?

JS: No, before. Before, what did your family have to do before they were sent, you were sent to camp? What did you do with all your belongings?

DM: Oh, okay. Like I said, we have a small, two-car garage, and we rented to the family that we know, this Portuguese family that had, Enos'. One section of the garage, he boarded it up and we put all our stuff in there and then pound it up. And that's all our stuff, was in that two-car garage on one side. And when we came back, everything was intact. The guy kept that house real nice.

JS: So how did the arrangements made for the Enos to stay in your home? Your family knew them?

DM: Oh, yes. They were real close friends. Well, not real close friends, but real friends. So he knew that. So naturally, he didn't charge for rent or anything, just let him stay there. And we let him know that we're coming back, and then they were ready to move out.

JS: And at that time, the Enos family had a restaurant. Did they have a restaurant when, before you went to camp?

DM: The Enos'?

JS: Uh-huh.

DM: Uh-huh. And then he had a small restaurant and a bar, but later on, he had a, just a bar, and they served food, too, later. But he was well-known. Enos, they called that bar, it was famous in Walnut Grove.

JS: So your father was friends with them?

DM: Well, not really friends, but close... well, yeah, I guess --

JS: Associates? Business, because of business they knew each other?

TI: I had one question about your father's work. I'm thinking of shoe repair. So they worked a lot with leather and their tools. Did he ever do other things besides shoes, like other leather work? I'm thinking about maybe farmers who might need work on leather type of things. Do you recall whether or not he ever did any leather work for farmers or any other kind of work like that?

DM: No, he was very good with wood, too, carpenter work. In fact, those neighbors, extra room for him. That's, all by himself, he made that extra room for the neighbor that we had three doors down. (Narr. note: He made belts and some pouches with leather for one of the neighbors.)

TI: Okay, so he was pretty handy with his hands.

DM: He was handy with, (yes), lot of things, yeah.

TI: How about things like belts? Did he ever work on belts or anything like that? Yeah, like leather belts, I was just curious about the leather.

DM: Not like that. Mainly repair and, you know... so as far as repairing the shoes, that's about it. He didn't go into making leather jackets or leather... no. (Narr. note: He could make belt leather pouches, etcetera, but not for sale. I'm sure if someone asks for it he will make it.)

TI: Okay, yeah, I was just curious if any of that happened.

DM: Good thing he was handy with that, 'cause the shoe store, without that repair, I don't think he would have made that (store last). 'Cause small town, they don't buy shoes back in the '30s. Nobody had money. When you say seven dollars, that's a very expensive shoes, you know.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

JS: So what do you remember about the bombing of Pearl Harbor? You were in middle school at the time, or you were still in the grammar school?

DM: I was in the... that was '41, so I was twelve years old.

JS: Twelve years old.

DM: So it must have been, what...

JS: Sixth grade?

DM: Yeah. We had, most of the people started school at, what, five or six years old? We were held back two years in the first grade, so sixth or seventh, so twelve, I guess.

JS: Okay. And do you remember hearing the news?

DM: When they said, "Why did they do that?" And what can you say when they said, "Japs bombed Pearl Harbor," and all that. That really shook up. I don't know how to explain that, but even with the kids, when you say "Japanese," get that more or less. But that school, we didn't have any problem. Oriental school, so...

JS: The Chinese kids didn't say anything?

DM: No.

JS: The teacher?

DM: No, they didn't bother us. In fact, Japanese outnumber all of them, so, you know, we were never afraid of anybody then. [Laughs]

JS: Do you remember the reaction of your family? Did your parents or your older siblings say anything about what was happening?

DM: No.

JS: No?

DM: They didn't mention anything. Only thing, my dad was mad was because my oldest brother didn't come home early and stay out late after that bombing and all that. He was mad. As far as, I don't think, I can't remember too much about it.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

JS: Do you remember leaving Walnut Grove, and where did you go? Did you go to Merced?

DM: Okay, Merced, that was the assembly center, and then from Merced went to Amache.

JS: Okay. Do you remember leaving Walnut Grove to go to Merced? Do you remember where you had to meet and how you got to Merced?

DM: How we went there?

JS: Uh-huh.

DM: Okay, Merced, did we go on a train? I remember riding on a train to go to camp. I know from Merced to Amache we went on a train, but I don't remember how we went to Merced.

JS: Okay. Do you remember anything about Merced, what it was like or the conditions?

DM: Well, as far as, you're a kid, so the first time we're in a, kind of barracks, so I'm not too familiar with that. But I remember from Merced to Amache, when I was on the train, I was, what, twelve or thirteen? This black porter gave me a bag of cookies. To me, you know, that's... so he told me to go take it, and I went to show it to my mom, and she puts it away. Yeah, it was nice. It was this black porter. I don't know if it's porter they called it. Said, "Come here." So first time I'd seen a black people, you know, so he gave me a bag of cookies. "Go," he says. I was really surprised. I said, "Thank you," and then I took off.

JS: Did you talk to him at all, or you just said, "Thank you"?

DM: I just said, "Thank you," and I left. I was afraid of him. I was surprised. And at that time, from then on, I said, "There's nothing wrong with..." you know. And my mom started passing out, and the kids, "Where'd you get that?" You know how Dad is, always... he was going to make me take it back, I guess. [Laughs]

JS: But your mom kept it. She was smart.

DM: (Yes).

TI: But that's an interesting story, because what you just said was, so this black porter gave you this bag of cookies --

DM: I don't know if it was the porter or the... within the, yeah, okay.

TI: But after he did this, it kind of influenced how you looked at black people, you said. Because you said this was your first...

DM: First time I see them and talk to them.

TI: And it was an act of kindness, and you felt, at that point that...

DM: I guess they all knew that we were being mistreated. 'Cause all the shades was down on the train, you couldn't see outside. You couldn't see outside.

JS: So it seemed like you had people in town, like the white community, that you worked the concessions for them, so you had some friends, or you knew some of the townspeople at the, like at the baseball game.

DM: Yeah.

JS: You knew some of those people, and I was wondering if they said anything or they came to see you off when you left Walnut Grove.

DM: You mean the white people?

JS: No, white.

DM: Huh?

JS: White. No? Nothing.

DM: No, not that I know of, no white. (Narr. note: We hardly associated with whites because of the segregated schools).

JS: Nothing that you remember.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

JS: So do you remember, when you got to, so you went to Merced, and then which camp did you go to? Did you go to Colorado, Amache?

DM: Yes.

JS: Okay.

DM: From Merced. And you want me to tell you what kind of job I had in Colorado?

JS: Yes.


DM: And the town of Granada one mile from the camp. That's where we get a coal for our stove, in the barracks. And the train was loaded with this coal, we used to unload that into the dump truck, that was our job. And on the train, we had to move the train so that goes right where the dump truck goes into conveyor belt. So that's our job, was to scrape the coal into that conveyor belt. And we were getting nineteen dollars a month. Nineteen, that's the same as doctor and...

JS: Wow.

DM: My dad is a shoe, he was in co-op, the head of the shoe store, his check was sixteen dollars, it's over nineteen dollars. What kind? Only doctors get that kind of pay, you know. 'Cause that daily job.

JS: So how many of you would work that job?

DM: About five or six people, 'cause you got to move that train, that whole section and empty it, so the next slot where they open. And every time you open a slot, there's about four section that you got to block it up, so you go, open the others. Just that one spot. And we had to scrape all that coal off the train.

TI: But for you, that was pretty impressive, because you were young. [Interruption] You were getting paid more than all these adults.

DM: Twelve dollars, the minimum, twelve, sixteen, and nineteen dollars, and I was getting nineteen dollars. So even my dad said, "What kind of work?" [Laughs]

JS: Now, how did you get that job?

DM: I don't know.

JS: You don't remember?

DM: I just... I don't remember. Another guy from our same barrack, he was about two years older than I was, him and I was the only one that I know of. I don't know the rest of them. I don't know how I got that job.

TI: And how old were the other people doing that same job? Were they all teenagers?

DM: Well, I was, in 1943... [Interruption] So other guys were sixteen. But I still don't know how I got that job.

TI: So still, like, all teenage boys, then.

DM: Yeah, mostly, (yes).

TI: Fourteen, sixteen.

DM: I didn't see any older people in there.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

JS: So when... you were still going to school in camp, so when did you work?

DM: In the summertime, yes.

JS: Oh, in the summer?

DM: So the following year, I got a job at the cattle, cattle ranch. I used to ride that tractor-like stuff, and they got a lift on the back, the old post that's broken, with a hydraulic, and put a metal one in there, pound it in and string the wire. That was my job there.

JS: And where was the cattle ranch?

DM: That was following year that I worked from the...

JS: Uh-huh, but was it on the camp property, or was it outside?

DM: Oh, no, the farms, so we had to go off the camp.

TI: But this was a cattle ranch for Amache?

DM: Amache, for the camp. The cattle is for the camp, food. They had two cattle ranch in, for the camp. We were one of the smaller ones. The other ones is the X-Y Ranch, that's the bigger one. So the smaller one, this couple that ran it, actually helped his wife with the vegetable garden and odds and ends jobs. So (when that job was finished), he used to tell me to take the tractor and go fix (the fence), he rides on his horse and tell you where to go and he'd put a white flag to fix the posts, you know, they got a white flag attached. And I used to drive the tractor and see the white flag, back it up and pull the old pole out and put a new one in. I did about four fixings, and he came back on the horse and says, "Okay, you did a pretty good job, so you take the horse back home." And he drove the tractor back and I rode on the horse. And the strap is so long, my foot doesn't fit. So bang, bang, bang. [Laughs]

TI: And so had you ridden horses before?

DM: No, first time. So I'm hanging onto the (dear life), and then there was a small ditch there, and I'm trying to hold it back. He jumped over like nothing. [Laughs] I'm trying to pull him back to stop, but he kept (on going, but) I had a good time.

TI: And so this was a local couple, I mean, they're running the ranch?

DM: (Yes). See, he was a camp scoutmaster, our troop. (Yes), he was a troop scoutmaster, his name was Tokunaga. And I used to be in the scouts, you know, I was just small. He hired me for that job.

TI: And so did he live on the ranch, or did he live in a barracks?

DM: Ranch.

TI: So he lived kind of like away from all the other people, to take care of the camp.

DM: They have their own farms. This is why I used to take care of his wife's picture garden, they call it. There's nothing but vegetable growing. I used to pull the weeds and out and water that. Then after that is done, then he started telling me to go drive that tractor, go look for the white flags so I could fix the (fence).

TI: And how many head of cattle, roughly, do you think...

DM: Gee, I don't know. I didn't pay attention.

TI: In terms of operations, did they, like, butcher and do all that?

DM: (Yes). They take it to the slaughterhouse and they butcher all that. They use that .22 shotgun and kill the cattle.

TI: And this whole operation, this was all run by Japanese?

DM: That ranch, yes.

TI: And the slaughterhouse and all that?

DM: I don't know if the slaughterhouse was run by Japanese or not. That I don't remember too well.

JS: So Mr. Tokunaga and his wife lived there.

DM: (Yes). One thing I liked about (farm work) was they have a mess hall for the farm workers. That's where we ate, and that's a good mess hall. They feed you nothing but the good food and all the helping you wanted. Camp, you only get limited food, whether you like it or not, you're going to eat that. But mess hall, they give you all the good food.

JS: So how many people would, were working on the ranch? How many people were at the mess hall?

DM: Oh, man, that mess hall, they had all kind of farm. They got vegetable farm. So the mess hall was always full for the workers go there. And they give you extra orange (...) to take couple orange home. Kids, you would stuff all of them and bring it home to the folks.

JS: So were there other kids your age, other teens working on the farm?

DM: That I don't know. I'm sure there were some of 'em working there, but...

JS: You didn't see them. Can you tell us a little bit about the Boy Scout troop?

DM: Not too much.

JS: Not too much? You don't have memories of that?

DM: They have a regular...

JS: Scout meeting?

DM: Well, scout meeting and then they have a contest, you know, where they have rope tying and all that. Not too familiar -- I don't remember too many things on that.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: But, David, listening to your stories, you must have been a pretty good worker. Because all these, like the coal job and then the ranch, I'm sure there were lots of other people they could have asked, but somehow, they always, you got these really interesting jobs. Do you know, what is it about you that you think, that got you these jobs?

DM: I don't know. I don't know how I got the jobs, really. Especially that coal job, I don't remember how I ever got it. Unless this buddy of mine that, you know, he had a job. This is the guy that was in the same barrack. I still don't remember how I got that job.

TI: Now, the ranch job, was that also still nineteen dollars a month?

DM: That was sixteen dollars a month.

TI: Okay, so you had to take a cut in pay. [Laughs]

DM: (Yes), that's more like... that's more like it. But the coal, well, that's nineteen dollars, because we know who gets nineteen dollars. I said, "Nineteen dollars?" So when I signed the check, I went to my dad, he looks at it, too, and he says, "What kind of work?" [Laughs]

JS: So your paycheck went to the family, to help the family? Your dad... you did the part time job, and then the money that you made...

DM: Oh, what did Dad do with it?

JS: Yeah. Did he...

DM: Well, in the evenings, we had one of those old electric one-pot stove. We used to make beans or coffee and all that. So evening we got something to snack on, so Mom used to make that. I guess that's what he used the money for, I don't know. I don't know where the money went.

JS: Okay. So needs that the family had to buy extra things, food to cook inside the cabin, or any things that you needed?

DM: Yeah.

JS: Okay. Did your other siblings work in camp, did they have jobs?

DM: Yeah. My younger sister used to work in the mess hall, and the oldest one used to be a artist, so he used to work for silkscreen. And then the next one went in the 442nd, so he was in the service. I don't know what the other two did. Oh, the third one was a dishwasher, that's all. And I don't know what Walter did. You know, you got to talk to Walter, I don't know what he did. Did he tell you what he did?

JS: Did he tell us?

TI: He did, I can't recall right off.

DM: He didn't have an exact job?

JS: We can't remember, but he did talk about some of his memories, he did talk about Boy Scouts a little bit and going camping.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

JS: Do you remember going camping while you were in camp?

DM: Yes, we went on a field trip to Mesa Verde National Park, which is, Colorado, we were on the southern, east coast. Mesa Verde was the southern, west coast. Almost to the water, we went on our trip. And that was the most interesting field trip I ever been to. It's called the Mesa... you know where the Indian had a cave (built on the side of the cliff), inside of the cave and on top of the cave they had a little... it's like a village, you know, the whole town people was living in that cave. Because other Indian group comes and attacks them. And they used to grow stuff underneath, and at night, they'd go put [inaudible] and go into the cave. And it's on top of the hill, and then there's a little cave underneath, and there's quite a big drop. And that's where the whole town used to live in there. That's a very nice... I still want to go back to see that again, it's called Mesa Verde National Park.

JS: And so you camped right there? The Boy Scouts went there and you stayed overnight?

DM: Not there. We'd just go there to see.

JS: To see that.

DM: Yeah. But we stayed in one of the worn out barracks, 'cause they want us to clear the barracks down, and that's what we went for. They're tearing the barracks down. And in the spare time, they took us to that Mesa Verde National Park. But the interesting part was from the top, you could go in there, like a tunnel, and they had a big rock, roll, and he rolls like that and then put a block on it so people can come in. It's amazing the way they -- I still want to go see that place again.

TI: It reminds me almost like a castle or a fort in terms of how they...

DM: Yeah, I don't know how many people were staying there, but they said the whole village, they were staying there, nighttime. 'Cause the other people would attack them.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

JS: What else do you remember about camp? About school or...

DM: Like I say, my English was bad, so I used to skip class. No, I didn't skip classes, but school works, I didn't... not into...

JS: Not too interested.

DM: I was not athletic, either, so I wasn't in any sports.

JS: Did you mostly hang out with the friends from Walnut Grove?

DM: Yeah, mostly from, in the same blocks. Most of the block people is from, you know, same village. Hometown people. That's why they knew where we were from.

JS: So was there a division between people from other towns? Was there any kind of cliques or groups? Did they treat you different because you were Walnut Grove?

DM: No, we get along pretty good. I didn't have any problem, I never... although they did have, camp, they always had a gang, you know. But I didn't have any problem.

JS: Okay. I've heard stories before where they talk about, like, the city kids and the farm...

DM: Yeah. They used to have L.A. gang, they're always, they're bad because they're always sticking with a group and they go attack somebody. 'Cause we have a mess hall, whenever they have problems, they ring that mess hall bell. And if it starts during the lunchtime or dinnertime, they'd be in trouble if that bell, thing. Somebody banging on that, and sure enough, somebody's causing trouble.

TI: And what would be an example, when they rang the bell for trouble, what would be an example of trouble?

DM: Everybody would come out to see where the trouble was.

TI: And would the trouble be like a fight, or what would be an example of what...

DM: Yeah, either somebody's doing something, and I know the guy that used to take care of the water heater, they call it, for the shower, and there was an old man, that was a mean old man. They used to throw tomato at him. [Laughs] And he'd probably ring the bell, maybe, I don't know. [Laughs]

JS: [Laughs] "Help."

TI: So people were throwing, maybe, tomatoes or something, and he rang the bell to get help?

DM: No, he was really mean, the guy.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

JS: Do you remember... Walter told us one of your brothers volunteered to be, serve, 442nd, the 442? Do you remember that, when your brother left, and what happened?

DM: What happened to my brother?

JS: Uh-huh.

DM: He was with the 442nd, and then he got, when they were attacked and then they got surrounded, and he got taken as a prisoner.

JS: He got captured.

DM: Yeah, so he was a prisoner of war, and then he said he was staying in one of the farmers' house to take care of the farm. They used to stay in a barn like place at night. But...

TI: I'm sorry, explain that again? So your brother, who was captured, stayed at a farm place?

DM: Yeah, they had a, they didn't have 'em in the regular prison camp, they have 'em working for the farms.

TI: Okay, so he was --

DM: According to him. I don't know what the...

JS: So like a labor camp.

DM: Must have been, yeah, must have been near the camp or something, otherwise... but he stayed in a barn like, he said.

TI: And did he ever describe how, how it was for him, staying at the barn, what it was like?

DM: No, he didn't say he was mistreated because in a farm, he's always doing something. But he had a book that he used to draw and everything. But he drew a lot of, pretty good, remembering, like, Donald Duck or something, pretty good. He drew those pictures.

TI: And who has that book now? Do you know where it is?

DM: Gee, I don't know. He probably had it, but I don't know where it is.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

DM: But after that camp, he came back, we had to go, he came just in time so we were going back to Walnut Grove. He was with us. So when we came back from the camp to the Walnut Grove, we had a bus stop, and we were walking down to our house, my brother was with us in uniform, and then this Filipino, they had all taken over our Japanese stores. One white woman was with them, she started calling us "Japs." "Get out of here, go back." Yeah. My brother in uniform was gonna go after her, but the old man says, "Stay back." And it so happened, there was postmistress and this head of the packing shed was there, I guess they sold it so they came down and help us, guided to our house. And that evening, I guess they called the sheriff, so the sheriff was watching our place for us after the incident. Good thing that woman said something, so, later some other people.

JS: So you were with your brother, your father, your whole family? Or who else was there? Was your mother with you?

DM: My oldest sister wasn't there, and my oldest brother wasn't there. So we got three, three of us and my other sister.

JS: Okay, and you were one of the first families back to Walnut Grove?

DM: Yeah, we were the first.

JS: You were the first.

DM: Yeah. That's why this white woman with the Filipino group, she was a son of a gun -- cussing at us like, "Jap."

JS: And so the Enos family had left your house already, or were they...

DM: No, yeah, they were just cleaning up, you know, just about ready to move out, everything.

JS: So you were able to move right in.

DM: Yeah. They kept that house really nice.

TI: Can you describe, when you went to your house, and you were cleaning the house up, what was the reaction or the interaction between your family and their family?

DM: No, no problem. They were nice about it. Yeah, we didn't have any problem.

TI: Were they welcoming? Did they, were they glad to see you?

DM: Oh, yeah. Only one left there I remember was the father. Gee, it's been a while. But most of them were gone, you know. Just, I think one of the boys and the father was there the last night of clean up, I guess. They were really happy that they got to stay there, you know, place to stay.

JS: And then how long was it before the rest of the community started to come back?

DM: Oh, my gosh, it's... week?

JS: A week?

DM: Yeah. I'm not sure, I'm just...

JS: You're not really... do you remember that first week when you were, like, the first family there and it was quiet, right?

DM: Yeah, we didn't expect nothing like that. And then this woman started saying, hollering, you know. So other people in there was in the pool hall and everything, they all start coming out. 'Cause my brother was so mad, he was gonna go after her, he was in the, you know, service. So Dad said, "You better not do anything." And then it so happened that that bus station that we got off, there was that postmistress and that head of that, when they saw that, they came right down and they look at them and they didn't say nothing after that. They escorted us all the way out to the house.

TI: And what happened to that woman after that?

DM: Nothing, nothing.

TI: Did she say in that area?

DM: Yeah, she was staying with that Filipino, they had a pool hall there. That's where she was staying. She was a bum, I guess. But it's a good thing that happened, 'cause that alerted, they called the sheriff and everything, so sheriff came around and watched us. Although we had, you know, on and off, but they didn't touch us because they know the sheriff was behind it now. That was, I thought we were gonna have a big mess for a while when they started cussing like that.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

JS: Okay, so we're gonna continue. And we were talking about after camp, returning to Walnut Grove. And it was, your family was the first family to come back, and then about a week later, the rest of the people from Walnut Grove started to come back.

DM: Town people.

JS: Uh-huh. And what do you remember about that time? Did your father go back to work right away?

DM: No, not right away.

JS: Okay.

DM: What can I remember? I don't think he had all the equipment yet, but he was helping with the people that's coming back.

JS: Okay.

DM: And they furnished the army beds and army blankets in the Japanese school, and that's where a lot of residents stayed there.

JS: So did he help set that up?

DM: Well, not set it up, but, yeah, more or less help 'em out over there.

JS: Okay. Do you remember who helped set that up, you know, temporary...

DM: No, I don't.

JS: to live.

DM: But I know he's the one that said... in Japanese school, they don't, no bathroom, so he told the dad, people that wanted to take a bath, they could take it after a certain, certain time. So we had to be out of our bathroom by seven, seven-thirty and then other people could use it. Late as ten o'clock, they'd use the bath.

JS: So people stayed at the Japanese school, and people stayed at the Buddhist church, is that right?

DM: I don't know about Buddhist church.

JS: You don't remember that?

DM: You heard about that? I don't, I'm not sure. Because I only know it was Japanese school there.

JS: Okay, yeah, I'm not sure. How about at the Methodist church? Did anyone stay there?

DM: I have no...

JS: You don't remember that.

DM: The only reason, Japanese school is right behind our house, see.

JS: Right. And do you remember any of the businesses reopening in town, any of the former Japanese businesses?

DM: Who opened up?

JS: Uh-huh.

DM: Little by little, but that grocery store, Hayashi, and the candy store, the Miyazaki, and barber shop, naturally barber shop. And most of the boarding house I think was there, but lot of other places, they never come back.

JS: No one's described the Miyazaki candy store. Can you describe the candy store and what they sold there?

DM: They have a fountain, so they have sundaes, ice cream, or whatever. We used to buy cones there. And, yeah, that's about it, candies. But they have snow cones there, too, but another little dinky places has snow cones, they gave you a lot more ice and more juice, so that's where we used to go. That's Asai. The Miyazakis give you smaller, little bit juice for the same price, so we used to go to, on Asai, the lady used to give us a lot of ice and lot of juice.

JS: Okay, so that was at the Asai market?

DM: No, that was just, she was just selling snow cones there.

JS: Oh. Just, that's all?

DM: That's all. It was not a boarding house or anything, she was just, just had that... I don't know. She was a real generous lady.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

JS: So what was one of, what were... what did you do? Let's see, you came back, and you were still in school.

DM: Oh, yes.

JS: Okay.

DM: High school.

JS: High school. Do you remember going back to high school? Or where did you go, Courtland?

DM: Yes. Courtland High, '46, '47, '48, yeah. Sophomore, junior, senior year. And we didn't have any problem.

JS: No problems?

DM: No. First time we have to go to school with the white people. [Laughs] You know, all this time was in camp, it was all Japanese, and before the war was Oriental school, so first time we went to school with Caucasians.

JS: So what was that like? I mean...

DM: Well, some of the kids, you know, didn't bother us too much. In fact, every class, the Japanese people outnumbered most of the... you know. And the Chinese always stick with the Japanese. So like sophomore, junior year, over half is Asians. And when we have election time, all the gals come and try to be nice so they get voted. [Laughs]

JS: So did you see any of your old classmates, the Chinese classmates?

DM: Do I see a Chinese? Not too many.

JS: Not too many that you knew from before?

DM: No.

JS: No. So it was a new group of students that you went to school with.

DM: Even with Japanese, we don't see too many now either. Especially at my age. [Laughs]

JS: So who did, at lunchtime, did you...

DM: No, we used to pack our own lunch.

JS: You packed your own lunch, and who would you eat with? The Japanese?

DM: Who do we eat with?

JS: Yeah.

DM: Yeah, our Japanese group.

JS: Japanese group.

DM: We sit on the lawn and eat with our group. Only pack one sandwich and put it in the pocket. Lunchtime we'd just take it out and eat it.

JS: So other than going to school, do you, were there other activities at the high school that you were involved in?

DM: Well, I was a lousy athletic, but I used to play basketball, although I didn't get to play much. Just to be on the team, I guess, I used to go.

TI: Did any of your, the Chinese or white people, did they ever ask you what it was like in the camp? Did you ever talk about that?

DM: No. They never ask us that. They knew we don't want to talk about that, I guess. Nobody asked us about that.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

JS: So then eventually your father did restart the shoe repair.

DM: Oh, yes, definitely. And then when my oldest brother came back, he took over. He was in Detroit or someplace.

JS: So the shoe store that was next... it was on A Street? Was it A Street? The shoe store was right next to the...

DM: Drugstore.

JS: ...drugstore.

DM: Yeah. You know where, you ever been through that town? You can't miss anything. [Laughs] You go too fast, you miss everything. There was a bait shop, drugstore, and then the shoe store. And then there used to be a big grocery store, and then like department store and that. But we had pretty good... as far as a small town, they had a little bit of everything. We have a, they used to make tofu in the town, too.

JS: And so what activities in town sort of resumed? When you were, like, in high school, was there a change? Did you notice a change in the town, or did it seem like you had just left?

DM: Yeah, it's not the same because there isn't that many Japanese, actually, 'cause it's, a lot of other people was in that Japanese, where the Japanese used to be. So there was not that many... it wasn't like before the war, it was more exciting. But it was kind of like dead.

JS: So other people were there, so other people that had opened up businesses when the Japanese were away, or who lived there?

DM: That I don't know. I don't know what they were doing. I know the pool hall was there because the table and everything was there. But other than that, we never did go into there. In fact, when we came back from the camp, where the other people was there, we never go into that places.

JS: Okay. So those establishments, you didn't go into.

DM: No, no.

JS: So what do you, what do you remember about, kind of, social activities? Were there any parties or dances? Because you were in high school, did you start dating?

DM: You mean after the camp?

JS: After camp.

DM: I don't remember too well. Did they have dances?

JS: You don't remember? How did you meet your wife?

DM: How did I meet my wife? Oh, 'cause I was in the service, Korea. When I came back... oh, anyway, this gal is a minister's daughter, okay? And they came to Walnut Grove, from Lodi to Walnut Grove in 1950. And I knew her a little bit, but I didn't know her that well. And I went to the army, Korea, and when I came back, her sister married my oldest brother. And then I used to, stationed in Camp Roberts, I used to come over on the weekend, she used to come with her sister to our home, 'cause she was packing the stuff for her sister and that's how I got to know her pretty good. So every weekend I'm home, she used to come over, so that's how I got to know her pretty good.

JS: Okay.

DM: Otherwise, I don't know her that well.

JS: Huh. So she didn't grow up in Walnut Grove, she was there in the 1950s.

DM: (Yes).

JS: She was from Lodi?

DM: Well, minister, they --

JS: They move around.

DM: They travel, yeah. I think she said she was, I don't know where she was born, but she says one time she was in San Luis Obispo. And from there to Lodi, I don't remember. That's how I got to know her pretty well. Otherwise I didn't know her that well.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

JS: So after the service, you were working, where were you working, in town?

DM: After the service? First I worked at... I used to work at McClellan Field before I left the service, to the service. But I was supposed to get my same job back because, you know, I got drafted, and they promised me the same job. But when I came, I used to be in electronic, McClelland Field. But when I came back, there's no opening in electronics, so they put me in electro-plating, and that was the worst job. You're working with acid, so your clothes got full of holes. So I worked there about a year and a half, and this (post office) mistress, I was talking about Walnut Grove, she asked me if I want to work for the post office in Walnut Grove. So I said, "Anything's better than what I'm doing now," so I said, "Okay." And I worked there for... '54 to '57. And then I says, "I'm going to have to leave here, 'cause I'm going to go to Sacramento." She said, "Why?" I said, "Well, I'm getting married, and I got no place to stay in Walnut Grove." So she started looking all over for me in Walnut Grove, and she couldn't find one. But she found one place where the upstairs in that area that I don't care for, and I said, "Not there." So she finally let me go. But she wouldn't give me no transfer to the Sacramento post office, 'cause she was kind of teed off, naturally, because working there for three years, and after that, I happened to leave her. But she was nice afterwards. So that's why I left Walnut Grove and I went to Sacramento.

JS: So if she was able to find a place, were you thinking about living in Walnut Grove, or you weren't interested?

DM: Not really, but...

JS: Uh-huh. And why weren't you interested?

DM: There's nothing there in Walnut Grove.

JS: So the town had changed, and there wasn't...

DM: There's nothing there, actually. Sacramento's... at least Sacramento there's some activity going on all the time.

JS: So a lot of your peers or your friends had moved out of Walnut Grove and they weren't living there anymore?

DM: No, nobody. Only the real older people stayed there, you know. But when I was working in Walnut Grove post office, they built a new post office. But when I started, it was all old building. And about, not one year's time, they went into the new post. I used to work as a custodian there, after the evening, I worked, clean up the place. And then the guy at that Walnut Grove theater asked me to run the projector for him. Said, "Sure, I need the money," so I said, "Yeah." Then when we went to the new post office, they took me off of custodian because (of the new) building... I still run the theater, so I had two jobs. And the reason I had to do that was I needed money so we could get married in '57. And postmistress came up to me one Saturday and come to see what I was... "Ah-ha, you got another job, huh?" She didn't say that, but... so she came to check up on me. She didn't say anything.

JS: So your fiance, or your future wife, was she working in Walnut Grove?

DM: She was in Walnut Grove bank.

JS: The bank.

DM: The Bank of Alex Brown.

JS: Okay, and your sister worked there as well.

DM: Her sister?

JS: Your sister.

DM: No, no. My sister...

JS: Oh, your wife did?

DM: Yeah. I don't think she worked there, my sister.

JS: Okay.

DM: I think her sister worked there.

JS: Oh, okay.

DM: Maybe my sister did, but I don't know if she did or not. I don't remember that.

JS: You don't remember that? Okay. And so was she ready to leave Walnut Grove, too, or did she want to stay?

DM: Where, my wife?

JS: Uh-huh.

DM: No, she was willing to go to... you know. We got to have place to stay. Nice.

JS: So, but your brother stayed. Your brother continued the business.

DM: Shoe store? (Yes).

JS: Shoe store, and his wife.

DM: Well, they more or less took over the house.

JS: They took over the house.

DM: My dad's. You know how the oldest one gets everything? [Laughs] But good thing I did move to Sacramento. There's a lot of things that opened up for us.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

TI: But before we go to Sacramento, I'm curious, so before the war in Walnut Grove, the town was pretty segregated. You had the Japanese, the Chinese, and then the whites across the river. How did that change after the war? Did Walnut Grove become a little more integrated with the races and...

DM: Yeah, I think a few Japanese, they moved to the white section.

TI: And so they relaxed that restriction, so Japanese can move over there?

DM: I think so, I think so.

TI: And how about just mixing? Did you start noticing... you mentioned your wife, she worked at the bank. So did you start just seeing in terms of work and social life, more mixing between Japanese and whites?

DM: No, well, white actually wasn't that bad, because they used to come to our store, my dad's fixing shoes and all that, buy some shoes. And they come for haircut, barber shop. So as far as white goes, they didn't bother us that much.

TI: How much interaction did your family have with the wealthier whites like the Brown family, things like that? Was there much interaction?

DM: I don't know too much. But the store that he had belongs to that Brown, you know, they controlled a lot of things. Brown Electric, what else? They had a lot of property, the Browns.

TI: So then your father and I guess your brother, they had to deal with them to pay rent and things like that? They would write...

DM: (Yes), uh-huh.

TI: Did they have very much, like, face to face interaction with them?

DM: No, I don't think so.

TI: How about your wife, because she worked at the bank, did she work with people from the Brown family, do you know?

DM: No, no. Only one might be the head of the place, but they didn't... Chargin. No, Chargin is not Brown, but he was in charge of the bank. So, no, we didn't have no problem with the whites, actually.

TI: Well, how did the Japanese feel about the Brown family and the Dye family, because they owned all, pretty much, of Front Town, and then pretty much the back town, the Dye family. If the Japanese were talking about them, what... would they consider them friends or... how would you describe the relationship?

DM: Well, I don't know. If you don't see them too much, it don't bother you, right? But as far as everyday routine, they pay rent and everything. We didn't have any problems.

TI: Would you, would you say that they were fair to the Japanese community in terms of...

DM: To me, it didn't bother me because I was young, so, you know, at that time. Maybe other parents, other families might have been saying something, but I haven't heard anything about it.

TI: Well, how about after the war? Because after the war, they still controlled the land, and you were more of an adult working as a postmaster.

DM: Nothing.

TI: So you didn't see much.

DM: 'Cause Dad kept the same store, so he was happy. I don't think we had any problem with those whites at all.

TI: And it seemed like you wife was able to get a job there, so that must have been okay for her to work there?

DM: Well, bank was mostly Japanese anyway, because lot of the white girls don't want to work that kind of place anyway, you know. So that was ideal for them, they got the job. I don't know how much they paid.

JS: So a lot of the Japanese worked at the bank. Were there other businesses in town that the Japanese worked, non-Japanese businesses? Any of the other stores or restaurants that Japanese worked at after the war?

DM: You mean like insurance company had Japanese? Yeah, they had Japanese. And -- this is after the war -- the judge, secretary or whatever was Japanese. So, no, they hired Japanese.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

TI: I want to ask about land ownership. Because it seems like the families really wanted to keep the land, and at some point, because you're a U.S. citizen, Japanese Americans could buy land. And I'm curious, was there ever examples of people trying to buy land from the Browns or the Dyes to try to buy their house or their business so that they could own the land underneath their business?

DM: Well, that is something that I'm not too familiar. But they was nice enough to let you, you know, that whole land, they let the Japanese move in there, but he didn't want to sell it, see, 'cause everybody got settled down. So I don't think people complained about that too much. But toward the end, they said they should own the property and all that, so then they started hassling. It finally opened up, they were able to buy that, except for the Brown property. The Brown got nothing to do with that.

TI: Oh, so in the Back Town, they started letting people... because I think it would be hard, because if you have a house, and you wanted to start fixing it up, if you don't own the property, you could lose all that.

DM: (Yes). Well, Dad built a big house, and it wasn't his land, but he build that. You got to have it, so toward the end they said Japanese community, they called it, some kind of association, and they got that property so they were able to buy it. But they were nice enough to let you use it, see, that's, so people could get in. At that time, like my dad's generation, they couldn't speak English, and they got no place to stay, right? And this guy was willing to let them stay for a minimum amount.

JS: Do you think it would have been different -- so after the war, Nisei were starting to work, and they wanted to buy a home and invest in property, start a family. If Walnut Grove, if the land ownership was different, where they could buy a house and have a home to live in, do you think that would have changed?

DM: Oh, yeah, I think people, lot of people would have stayed, I think. If that thing was wide open, they would have stayed. But that guy, before, why build a home where you don't belong, the property is not yours? And the younger generation, that's why they all moved out. But there's nothing there, town. In fact, there's no jobs for young kids to get a decent job, unless you work in the farm labor or something like that. And nobody wanted to work that. [Laughs]

JS: So not many options.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

JS: But you were saying earlier, you started to say, when you moved to Sacramento, things were different, things opened up. Can you describe that a little bit, your move to Sacramento?

DM: Why I moved to Sacramento?

JS: (Yes), and how, what Sacramento was like at the time, in the 1950s.

DM: I don't know how to... well, only reason I moved to Sacramento was, like, there was no place to stay in Walnut Grove, and you're limited. There's nothing much you can do in Walnut Grove. So Sacramento is wide open, I had lot of things do. And there's a lot of apartment was open at that time, so I didn't have no problem finding a place. And after three years, we bought a home, 'cause of first child, you know.

JS: And were you involved, did you get involved in the Japanese community in Sacramento? No?

DM: Like I said, I'm shy. In fact, I signed up for VFW post, and I told the commander, he's the one that asked me to join the, 'cause I was a veteran. If they ever put me on the board, I don't want to join, you know. He said, "Okay, put your name on, you don't have to take it." So I said, "Okay." And the first year I signed up, they put me down as a secretary. I said, "I'm gonna drop it," and two of my buddies that knows I'm shy, said, "He don't want it," so they let it go by. And then I used to go to meeting every quarter, every three months, and I used to clean up the VFW hall and everything. The following year -- we got to serve two years -- following year, January's election time, and they have lunch. I didn't go, 'cause I know they have elections. This guy called me up said, "They got you down for treasurer," or something, I forgot. I said, "I told you, don't put me down. If you put me down, you're gonna do it, 'cause I'm not going to go from now on." And I haven't been to a VFW meeting since. And this guy, I heard that, fellows used to say he always pick on somebody so he could get on the board if he doesn't show up, and that's what he did. And I haven't been back to a VFW hall meeting ever since that. Like I told him, "I don't want to get in front of people." But they don't, won't listen to me, so I said, "Okay." (I'm gone).

JS: What about your wife? Did she get involved in any activities in the community? Church?

DM: Not that much, but she does go to church. We're in the Buddhist now because (her) parents were Buddhist. But she's in the women's clubs and all that. She's not that, too active, either.

JS: Okay. Are you gonna cut it? Tom, do you have other questions?

TI: No, no. So, I mean, is there anything else that you wanted to, like any story or any other memory that you wanted to share?

DM: Not that I know of. I don't know. The town of Walnut Grove is just dying out. There's no, hardly any Japanese there now. So I don't know if there are ever going to be any more Japanese there.

JS: How does that make you feel?

DM: It's kind of sad, but what can you do?

JS: What do you hope that your children and grandchildren will know about Walnut Grove and family history?

DM: I got three granddaughters, and I don't know if they're too interested in those things or not. They don't, they never ask us about anything.

JS: Have you taken them to Walnut Grove?

DM: Oh, (yes). 'Cause Walnut Grove bazaar, they always have a bazaar, you know, every July I have to go there to help. So they always call us and says, "Will you help us again?" We used to help two days a week and I said, I got to the point where I can only do one day. So, "Okay, one day is fine." So on Saturday we go there from twelve to three o'clock, help with the bingo, bazaar.

TI: Good. Well, David, thank so you much. I know you were nervous, I know this is hard, but I'm glad you did this.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.