Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Judy Murakami Interview
Narrator: Judy Murakami
Interviewer: Carolyn Nayamatsu
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 13, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-mjudy-01-0010

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CN: And in your father's case, he had a thriving business. You also have documented, it sounds like he was really trying to get insurance or something, but it indicates what a loss he took on his pharmacy business. Would you like to read some of the...

JM: I just have to find it. Do you have 'em?

CN: No, you have them. It talks about how just before he left, I remember one of the things you said, he had sent out some bills to people and we was never... he was never able to collect on them. And he left a lot of prescriptions and drugs to...

JM: My father, at the time of, when the evacuation order finally came, it came so suddenly. And my father, because he was he owned this pharmacy business, he, of course, felt very responsible for the prescriptions of all these customers. And I found out later that he must have filed some kind of a claim, probably in, towards the late '40s, I would think, trying to regain some of the loss that he had acquired. And I think that in some ways he was fortunate that he was able to recreate some of the records from his business, because I'm sure there were a lot of people who had no paperwork to be able to do this. But he says that his losses, this is called a Statement of Claim of Howard Nomura: "The following losses and expenses incurred by me due to my evacuation are explained in detail in the following schedules." And he's tended to underestimate rather than overestimate. And he lists everything from furniture and supplies and furniture that was damaged either in the course of being moved from wherever it was stored to St. Paul, Minnesota, or being stored, and just his business loss which was substantial in those times. He had bought a new car and the amount of money that was lost for that.

So they are all tallied here, and a couple of things are kind of interesting with this. For example, he's even able to label where he bought some of the things and how much the value was at the time it was disposed. And then if he was able to sell it, how much he got, and what the loss was. And usually the loss was the same as the original value because they were not able to sell it. But one of the things here, he had a car that... he'd bought a 1941 Oldsmobile, and he's got even the place he bought it, from Logan Oldsmobile Company in Portland for $1600. It was seven months old and he left it with a friend in Portland who was going to sell it, and he did sell it for $1100 for my father. And this gentleman then came to the assembly center, the Portland Assembly Center, to give my father some money for it, and I don't know if, I think that maybe he was only going to give him part of the money at that point. And I'm not sure, later give him the rest of it, but he had an envelope with fifty dollars in it, and he left the envelope at the guardhouse of the assembly center because they would not let this gentleman, this Caucasian gentleman come in, and they wouldn't let my father go out to meet him. So he left the envelope with the guard and asked him to give it to Howard Nomura. And years later my father found out that this had happened because he never got the envelope and the guard had just taken the $50 that he had. It's just another example, I guess, of some of the things that probably happened to lots of the people.

CN: What did he say about the prescriptions? What happened to all the prescriptions that he had?

JM: Well, he had a, he had a prescription file containing over 25,000 prescriptions at that time, and so what he did was he gave it to another drugstore that was nearby so that the patients could continue to have their prescriptions filled and still get service. And then he had some prescriptions that were given on credit, and there were about a hundred of those. Either people didn't have the cash at the time, and they didn't have Visa charges, but he gave them credit. And so what my father had done was he mailed a statement just before the evacuation, but he couldn't get any of the people to pay. Not one of them paid. And some of them may have been because they were Japanese Americans and they were probably also in the process of being evacuated, and they didn't have any means to pay or whatever, but some of them were Caucasians, and he never received an answer to any one of his statements, so he lost all of that. I think that he figured that... I'm not sure how much that was. Probably accounts receivable, I think he had about three hundred dollars on that, and back in those days that was quite a bit. The amount that he lost in his inventory was probably close to five thousand dollars.

CN: So yeah, he made quite a sacrifice, gave up his, had to give up his business and start over. You have so much nice information. Here's the Heart Mountain Sentinel, this is a rather nice, I think, newspaper that they printed up and it announces in here, your family, "Relocation in Review." It just talks about how Howard Nomura has asked to bring his family out to St. Paul. There are some other Minnesota people, too, who you didn't think you knew, right? This is a boxer we see here, "Boxer Ted Tsuboi joined brother Bud in Minneapolis where both are occupied as mechanics," it says. And then there are some others that were coming out. So this was a nice memento that...

JM: And that's from, what date was that?

CN: This is October, 1943. So your mother and all were just about... and Ted just left, right?

JM: Yes.

CN: So your immediate family came out to Minneapolis...

JM: St. Paul.

CN: ...St. Paul and joined your Aunt Ruth Tanbara. Did your grandparents, any of your grandparents come out at that time?

JM: On my father's side, his parents Frank and Kiyo Nomura,. I think that they went eventually to a place called Delavan, Wisconsin. There was a resort there called Lake Lawn, by Delavan, Wisconsin, and they worked there as, I think my grandfather helped cook or they did some type of work like that, as a cook. And he may also have gone to Chicago, where their oldest son Paul and his youngest daughter Elsie and her family were living, and he may have stayed there for a while. Eventually my grandfather ended up with cancer, so that he came to Minnesota and he stayed with my Aunt Ruth until he passed away. On my mother's side, her parents went to Minidoka which is where all the people from Portland went. And so her... my mother's mother, Yone Somekawa and her husband Gensaku Somekawa were there. My grandfather ended up with a stroke and he died in camp about 1944 I think it was, maybe '43. Then after the war, my grandfather had had a home in Portland, Oregon, and I don't know quite how they owned it or what that was, but as I understand it, they had a home in Portland, Oregon, which had been their family home for a while. And they went back to Portland, and the oldest son Arthur and his wife Emi stayed in that home along with the grandmother, Yone Somekawa. And she stayed there for a few years until she moved up to Seattle to be with two of her daughters, Aya and Aida Kozu and their families, and she passed away at the age of ninety-four there.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.