Densho Digital Archive
Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann Collection
Title: Bill Shishima Interview
Narrator: Bill Shishima
Interviewer: Raechel Donahue
Location: California
Date: 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-sbill-02-0005

<Begin Segment 5>

RD: So did you get to go out of camp?

BS: Yes. Because I was in the Boy Scouts, so it was really great, Boy Scouts started a block away from us, and happened to be from the same school that I was in Los Angeles. So the Maryknoll school people started Boy Scout Troop 345, so I joined them. And then, I think, a few months later, I just happened to get pneumonia, so I was in the hospital. When I came back from the hospital, our block started a Boy Scout troop, so my parents wanted me to join our block troop, which was sponsored by the St. Mary's Episcopal church from Los Angeles. So I joined our block troop.

RD: Was that 333?

BS: Troop 333, yes. And that's what, you know, I read a book, Baseball Saved Us in camp, but to me, Boy Scouts saved us in camp, because we were able to meet boys and girls from other blocks and other, throughout the camp, different age level, younger ones, older ones, whereas in school you just meet your classmates. So it was really exciting to be in the Boy Scouts, and it kept us busy. We had a patrol meeting every week, we had troop meeting every week, and then in between we had troop camping or hiking, so it was really exciting.

RD: Shig Yabu told us that he felt that his parents approved of the Boy Scouts because it had, the values are similar to traditional Japanese values in terms of family...

BS: Well, I think mainly the Boy Scout organization, throughout the Japanese community, they were all sponsored by either the church or the cultural centers because it's not book learning, it's learning that you get other than in school, such as leadership, camping, hiking, camaraderie and discipline. So I think that's why they always sponsored scout troops.

RD: Tell me about the trip to Yellowstone.

BS: Oh, our Yellowstone trip was really great. And hate to say it, but that was one of my first bad experience in camp. We were in the chow line getting ready to eat, and one the Boy Scouts cut in line ahead of us. So I said, "Hey, there's a line behind us," and he just got behind me and knifed me. Oh, I was shocked, he cut my, behind my elbow here, it bled a little bit, but I was more shocked than anything else. First time I got knifed, and that was a Boy Scout?

RD: And so when you took the Boy Scout trip, where did you go?

BS: We went hiking in Yellowstone park, and the we also had a project. We made a catwalk across the Nez Perce creek. So all the scouts did it that went before us and after us, and we completed a catwalk across the Nez Perce creek.

RD: Did you know the history of the Nez Perce at the time?

BS: No, I didn't, and I still don't know it. But I think about in 1998, about twelve or thirteen of us Boy Scouts, we had a reunion, and we gathered in Cody, Wyoming, we had a reception by the Simpson brothers, Alan Simpson and Pete Simpson greeted us there, we had a nice reception there. And then we went to Yellowstone National Park, and we had prior arrangement so the rangers took us to the old camp site and we were able to go to the creek, Nez Perce creek where we saw the catwalk or wooden bridge, but it wasn't in use anymore.

RD: Did you ever meet Alan Simpson when you were a boy?

BS: No, but I recall seeing a picture of them when he came with his parents. Because the minister in our block happened to know them or meet them, and I had their pictures. So I was able to meet, I think, Mr. Simpson in 1998, and then he showed me the picture and I happened to know, he couldn't remember the name of the people he met, and I knew it was Reverend Yokota, which lived in our same block.

RD: And did you know Norm Mineta at all?

BS: No. I met Norm Mineta, oh, about fifteen, twenty years ago, here in Los Angeles, but not in camp.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2010 Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann and Densho. All Rights Reserved.