Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Ed Yoshikawa Interview
Narrator: Ed Yoshikawa
Interviewer: Steve Ozone
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 12, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-yed-01-0015

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SO: And you became involved with Campus Crusade for Christ in Munsingwear?

EY: Yes. Well, Campus Crusade in its origin, I believe it was originated here in Minnesota, and at that time each state adopted a country, different country. And Minnesota adopted Japan as their field of mission work. So being of Japanese descent, they asked me to get involved in it, so I served on the Campus Crusade board for about six years, seven years. And then other area was when I was at Munsingwear I got tied up with Minnesota Twins players. And I serviced them with passes to the employee stores and having, make up some special t-shirts for their giveaway occasions, Twins t-shirts, and the president of the Minnesota Twins, Calvin Griffith, was a huge man, and he was not able to find t-shirts in size XXXXL, four XL, and they would get in touch with me and I would provide the t-shirts and underwear for him. They appreciated it and on occasion they would help me set up a tailgate party for the Japanese when they came. We would have a tailgate party for the Japanese and then they would give us free passes to the ballgame. So that was appreciated very much. There were a lot of side benefits resulting from this.

SO: Who were some of the Minnesota Twins that you got to meet?

EY: Well, I got to meet Calvin Griffith, the president, I don't remember all the other, there was a guy named, can't think of his name...

SO: Rod Carew or Tony Oliva?

EY: Oh, yes, Tony Oliva. As a matter of fact, Harmon Killebrew. I was in New York City in one of my business trips, and walking through the aisle I ran into Harmon Killebrew. Harmon Killebrew said, "Ed, what are you doing here?" "Oh, Harmon, what a surprise." So Harmon Killebrew and a few others. We would, there was a guy in charge of the novelties section and he would give me a whole box full of this and that and I would pass that on to the Japanese guests. And I remember one time we were playing against Chicago, the Chicago White Sox manager sent up about a half dozen brand new baseballs because he noticed us watching the game with the Japanese. Like I said, the tailgate parties were terrific, and we would get down on the field before the game and they would take pictures of the Japanese, they just loved it. Loved it.

SO: And then you were also involved with -- speaking of athletics -- you were involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

EY: Yes, my ties with the Minnesota Twins extended towards a group called the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and they were interested in golf shirts for their fundraising golf outing. And on one occasion I said, "Hey, how about having one of those sublistatic printed slacks, colorful slacks?" And they bought the idea and we supplied them with all these fancy, colorful...

SO: Would you explain the type of slacks?

EY: Well, it's a slacks made out of what we called a sublistatic print. There was a method of printing fabric with different design. Some could be a floral design, or a graphic design of different colors. And it just so happened this was a new process, sublistatic print fabric was new and I had connections with contractors in St. Louis that I worked with, and I had this material sent to them and they made slacks and they used the slacks for a outing, golf, a fundraising thing, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Hawaii, and they would all go out there, wear the same slacks, and the minute they'd see another guy wearing the loud slacks they would start laughing at each other. And that created a fantastic atmosphere so there was a very joyful occasion in the golf outing. And we also had something more standard as a golf shirt with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and since I was involved with that they asked me to serve on their advisory board for about three years or so.

Working at Munsingwear had many, many benefits or very interesting and enjoyable experiences. One of my, one of the most fantastic occasions was when the Munsingwear Japan bought out the brand name, that meant that they did not need my service anymore. So they said, "Eddie-san, what can we do to help you find another job?" That was back in 1954 when I was about sixty years old. I said I was hoping I could work until I was sixty-two so I can start collecting on my Social Security, but the Lord knows what He's doing, so that's fine, and we parted on the best of terms. And when the Japanese heard that they felt a little guilty and they said, "Let's have you and Pearl come over and be our guests." So we traveled first class, and it's amazing, the first thing they did was take a picture of Pearl and I in the office, C. Itoh's office. Well, that's strange, oh, well. And then after, a few days later they had a reception for us, it's a standing cocktail dinner party, and there was representatives from C. Itoh, Descente and Toyobo, and in the background there was a huge picture, a caricature picture of Pearl and I. In the background is a golf course, and the top sign says "walking together on the golf course, or something like that, it said ,"Thank you very much," and it was a whole mural, more or less. And that evening they presented me with a painting, oil painting of an old farmer's house with a thatched roof in the countryside, and they said, "Eddie-san we thought about getting you a portable TV but we decided on this." And this picture is more precious to me than anything else because this picture, oil painting, was exactly like where my dad was born. Heavy thatched roof, farm surrounding, oh, and that was presented to us, and then they also took a picture of that mural on the wall and gave us a picture of it so that I have it framed at home so it's more manageable.

SO: That's great. Did you have photographs of your dad's home so you that knew what it looked like?

EY: We had visited it.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.