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-02-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

RD: And do you remember the day that you left camp?

BS: Sort of. I was twelve years old, my brother was fourteen, and my dad was already in Los Angeles at that time. And he wanted to make sure that the two older children, my brother and myself, got to Los Angeles before September so we could go in school. So my two sisters, my brother and my mother were still in camp, but my older brother, fourteen -- I'm sorry, I was fourteen, my brother was sixteen, and we left Heart Mountain, Wyoming. And we were, we went through Salt Lake City, and at that time my uncle was living in Salt Lake City. So something like one or two o'clock in the morning, we woke him up just to say hi, and then we ventured on to Los Angeles.

RD: And how did your parents remake their life in Los Angeles?

BS: Well, there was no place to live. So he lived, my dad was at a friend's house, so he invited us to there also. But we couldn't stay there, so we got a schoolboy job. My dad got me a job in Harbor City, and it was a rabbit farm. So they, for room and board, I had to feed and clean the rabbits before school and then after school again I had to do the same thing. So that was my pay for being housed there.

[Interruption]

BS: Okay. Since my parents couldn't find a living place for us, we had to go do a schoolboy job. That's that I had to work for my room and board. I worked on a rabbit farm, so my job was to feed and clean the rabbit droppings every morning, then after school do the same thing again for my room and board. And my brother found a place in Silver Lake district, which at that time was sort of a middle, upper-class community, so he went to school at Marshall High School. And for his room and board he had to mow the lawn, wash the dishes, and do household chores.

RD: Wow, it's like being an indentured servant. When did you see your parents?

BS: I didn't, except sometimes on the weekends, but not very often, because I still had to work on the farm for myself.

RD: Were the people nice to you?

BS: Yes, they were very good.

RD: Still, it is child labor.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2010 Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann and Densho. All Rights Reserved.