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-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

SO: And then you graduated in camp, right?

EY: Yes, we were the first class to graduate from Tule Lake camp. And since my parents did not have enough funds for me to continue my education, I decided, well, I would go out and work, save enough funds, so I ended up in Cleveland, Ohio. And there, looking for a job, there was an opening at the Bellefaire Jewish Orphan Home. So I went there and worked as a maintenance assistant. They provided meals and accommodations, and after that I would play basketball with the kids at the orphan home. And to make a long story short, I might say, they asked me to play with them and there were members of the Jewish Athletic Association, and everyone who played had to be of Jewish descent. But with my appearance they decided, "Well, we want you to play with us but we'll call you Ed Kauffman and tell them you're a Hawaiian Jew." [Laughs] So I played a whole season. And on one occasion I remember, we went out to play other orphan homes and the spectators were all, what, six, seven, eight year olds, lot of kids, and so happened I hit a few extra baskets and the kids came up to me and said, "Autograph please." [Laughs] That's the first time in my life I gave out an autograph. So these are some of my pleasant memories I have of this orphan home.

SO: How long are you there?

EY: I was there six months and saved enough money so that I could continue my education. And I ran into a couple of guys from Portland area that was going to Western Michigan State College in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and they said, "Ed, why don't you apply for that school?" So I said okay and I applied for the entrance at Western Michigan State. A strange thing happened, though, and that is I sent in my application and I got the reply saying that, "I'm sorry, your grades does not quite live up to our standards," or something to that effect. So I said, "That's strange." My grades were B average. So I wrote back to them trying to find out why. It turns out that, believe it or not, there is another Edward Yoshikawa from Stockton, California, applied for the same school at the same time. It's amazing.

SO: It is amazing.

EY: So after that correction was made I was able to enter Western Michigan State.

SO: And what did you study there?

EY: Oh, just general course. Liberal course, liberal art course, standard first year subjects, nothing special. And then after I completed the first semester I received a letter from, that I believe it was a draft notice, so I was given two months before reporting to... somewhere, anyway, so I went back to Topaz, Utah, where my parents had transferred from Tule Lake to Topaz, Utah.

SO: Do you know why they were transferred?

EY: Oh, there was a questionnaire that was presented, it's a famous questionnaire about, "Are you a loyal USA, or you have plans to go back to Japan?" And my parents said, "Yes, we are," so they were transferred out from Tule Lake to Topaz. And my uncle, one of my uncles, ended up in Heart Mountain. And my oldest uncle's family remained in Tule Lake. And my parents, when they moved to Topaz, my dad did not, was not able to find any decent job so he ended up digging ditches and as a result of that he contracted cold and tuberculosis. So he was interned at the hospital, and well, anyway, after school I went back to be with my family in Topaz. And there was another buddy of mine, a guy named George Sakita, he and I were on the same boat, and we had two months and we decided, "Let's do something." And we signed up for a job in Topaz and we, well, how about a job as reporter for the Topaz Times so we can get around to these places and meet girls? [Laughs] So we did this for just two months and from there I went into the service for basic training down in Camp Blanding, Florida.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.