Densho Digital Archive
Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann Collection
Title: Shig Yabu Interview
Narrator: Shig Yabu
Interviewer: Raechel Donahue
Location: Camarillo, California
Date: 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-yshig-02-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

RD: I want you to tell me, something that we talked about before when we were talking on the phone, which is that how your parents dealt with their particular hardship without sharing it with you. Because I think in a lot of other cultures it would have been different.

SY: Well, in my mind, I think that most parents didn't want to share their feelings of how they felt. Well, number one, being a Issei, first generation, or illegal alien, he was very... more American than anyone I've ever met. But we couldn't communicate as well because he was talking more in Japanese than in English, broken English. And I can understand more than I can speak it, so we didn't really talk that much. But my mother loved to talk, but she was one of these that wanted to make sure that everything was correct and right. To give you an example, when I was six years old, when I was going to Fremont elementary school, we had a cash register in our cleaner. And I learned how to open the register by holding the "no sale" sign, or button. And then I took six cents and I went to the candy shop, and I bought Tootsie Rolls and these little dots with different colors, and I was so sick of eating sugar. Six cents, you could buy a lot in those days. But I had to eat it all up because I couldn't take anything home. Well, when I approached my cleaners, my mother was out there waiting for me. She said, "There's six cents missing from the cash register." Well, I knew I was going to get punished so I went through a great act and said, "Who would want to steal six cents? I can't believe, are you sure you didn't miscount?" and on and on. Well, all through camp I heard it, all through high school I heard it, all through my navy. But when I hit forty, I said to myself, "You know, every time I go home, they remind me about that six cents. I'm going to confess." So after dinner I says, "I want to talk to you both, I have a confession. Do you remember that six cents that was missing from your cash register?" I said, "I took it. I stole it, and I bought candy with it." And their answer was very stupid. They said, "What six cents?" And I heard it all throughout my life. But I thought that was a great way of training not to steal, because that confession, I realized that they knew, they knew exactly, and they would probably still be talking about it even to now if they were alive.

RD: So what do you think is the greatest thing that you came away from, as they say, from the camp? Was it morally or intellectually...

SY: Well, I think, like any young adult or young kid, we always talked about the things that we did back home. It was always getting out, going back, going to the Golden Gate Park, going to the Playland, going on the Golden Gate Bridge, walking on it, going to Coit Tower. There was anything that was dramatic and entertaining. But also, too, we talked about that delicious hamburger, the hotdog, the milkshake, the banana split that we couldn't get at Heart Mountain. And we would compare the cities and other kids that came from other towns, and ours was better than theirs and theirs is better than ours. And so that's the thing that we talked about most, that's the thing that we cherished. Now that we could get all of those things, it doesn't mean a thing. But as a kid, when you can't get something -- and I'm sure that the military people, they went overseas, they talked about the things that they remember mostly.

RD: Oh, that's good. That is just so all-American, too.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2010 Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann and Densho. All Rights Reserved.