Densho Digital Archive
Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann Collection
Title: Bob Berry Interview
Narrator: Bob Berry
Interviewer: Raechel Donahue
Location: California
Date: 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-bbob-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

RD: So how did you come to Santa Anita?

BB: How I come to Santa Anita?

RD: Yeah.

BB: I have been doing the flower decorations at Santa Anita for over fifty years now. And it was back years ago that I started doing flowers there.

RD: And so tell me about how you were in the flower business so you knew a lot of Japanese people.

BB: Well, my parents started growing flowers and had a little flower shop in Pasadena, and my best friend who lived across the street from me, two brothers who were Japanese, and I grew up with them. I know we used to, my mom used to take us to Huntington Beach, and this one time we went down there, and my two friends, my best friends were in the backseat of the car, we drove all the way down there to go to camp out. And when we went through this camp site, the man looked in the back and he says, "We don't allow Japs here." And so had to turn around and come all the way back to Pasadena, and very upset, very disturbed over it because that was the way it was back then.

RD: And so you knew kids that had gone to the camps?

BB: I knew...

RD: You knew kids your age who had gone to the camps?

BB: Yes.

RD: Tell me where.

BB: Say it once more.

RD: Say, "I knew kids who went to camps," and you knew them, that they went to where, to Santa Anita?

BB: Yes. I knew that they'd left, my friends right after the war started, my friends, the one brother came to me and said, "Will you do me a favor?" He said, "I do not want to go to the store and do our shopping. Will you do the family's shopping while we are at home? Because after this has happened, I don't want to go and do the shopping at the store." And so I said, "Sure, I'd be more than happy to." So when they moved, they moved to Santa Anita here to begin with, and I saw them during visiting time here. And then they moved up to Tulare, and so I drove my car to Tulare, I was seventeen years old, a '32 Roadster at the time, and I drove to Tulare, and I just missed 'em. They transfer 'em to Gila [River], Arizona. So I decided I would drive home, take another day, and I would head off to Gila [River]. So I drove all the way to Gila [River] because I wanted to see how they were being treated and how they were getting along. And so when I arrived at Gila [River], Arizona, it was five o'clock at night and visiting hours were just over with. And so I thought, I have no place to stay, what am I gonna do out here? And so I saw the army truck come in to the part of the camp, and a lot of civilians were getting on the army truck because they were working inside the camp. And so I thought, well, nobody knows me, I'm gonna jump on the truck. So I jumped on the truck and went inside, and I was able to get in touch with my friends. I located 'em, and they said, "Well, you've got to stay, you're inside now." So I said, "Fine, I'll stay." And I so I spent three days inside the Japanese internment camp, went to the nighttime movie where they walked up on the hill and showed the outside movie there. And I was so impressed because the camp, the people there, the Japanese farmers, they had gone into the fields, into the desert, and started growing vegetables. And they ended up growing enough vegetables in Gila [River] to supply all of the needs of the internment camps in the United States. And so Gila [River], from a bare desert, they went and they made it grow and have the vegetables to eat.

RD: Do you know the same thing happened at Heart Mountain? They grew eight thousand tons of vegetables, and they grew things that haven't been grown before or since in Wyoming.

BB: Yes.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2010 Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

RD: Do you remember the -- of course you do -- the names of your, the name of your friends?


BB: The one that was the same age as me was Tokuji Yoshihashi. And his brother was Ichiro, they were known as Tok and Ich. And I know, I grew up with them way back, I even put on the kendo outfits to do a little fencing with them because they were so Japanese and yet they were American.

RD: That's what it's called. It's called Heart Mountain: An All-American Town. Yeah, I'd like to expand on that. So you just did the All-American things with everybody, right?

BB: Yeah.

RD: Do you know if their parents were, if their parents were born in Japan or born here?

BB: Their father was gone but the mother was alive, and she was at the camp. Now, they had two sisters, one was in Japan and he was married to a Japanese who was in Japan during the war, the other was here. And so there was the four kids.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2010 Raechel Donahue and Garrett Lindemann and Densho. All Rights Reserved.