Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Yoshimi Matsuura Interview
Narrator: Yoshimi Matsuura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Bloomington, Minnesota
Date: June 17, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-myoshimi-01-0023

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: And so you're now in Minneapolis working, what about your wife?

YM: She's still in camp waiting.

TI: Waiting for you to get settled a little bit?

YM: When I -- this is the thing. When I left camp, I left her behind. I come over here and finally find an apartment, got her over here, and the army drafts me and I left her behind again. [Laughs] So every time she catches up with me, I'm gone. But yes, I found a place, finally found a place to live, and the person that would rent was a Swiss lady with a Greek husband. The Scandinavians just wouldn't rent to me for whatever reason, reading the newspaper, I guess. But so north Minneapolis again, we found a place and I sent for her.

TI: And how difficult was it to find this place? When you say...

YM: Oh, this was something else. My, the lady who owned the place where I was room and boarding, she says, "Well, around the corner here is a duplex. Upper floor, go over there and check it out." So I went over there and this lady looked at me, big blond lady, and she just told me, "I'm not renting to a Jap." She spit in my face. So I walked away and went back to my apartment, my room. As I walked into the house, Mrs. Nagle, who was the lady, she says, "Well, how did it go?" her usual way. And I said, "I didn't get it," and I walked right up the stairs to the room. I didn't want to tell her, because I know her, she would go over there and raise holy heck, and I didn't want newspaper or anybody to get involved. I had enough of that. So I didn't tell her. I didn't tell anybody what happened, nobody. I didn't even tell my family. I didn't tell my family about that until years and years and years later. I didn't walk to talk about the humiliation, it just... it was terrible. So that's one thing that I never, never discussed to anybody, even my wife. Didn't tell her until years later. I didn't want to talk about it. So experiences like that, many places I got shut down, shot down, but you go with it.

TI: Well, thank you for sharing that story. I know it was a painful...

YM: It was the kind of thing that you wouldn't want to go through. You hear about it once in a while, but you didn't think it actually happens. But it's things that you go through and you live with it, you forget it. You keep it to yourself, but you don't share it with other people.

TI: Yeah, I'm not sure if you ever forget something like that.

YM: No, you can't forget it, I can still see her face. You can't forget those things, but it happens. I know when I started working, one of the place, I was a "Jap scab" because I wouldn't join the union. And I went through hell over there, too.

TI: And how do you, how do you cope with all that? I mean, over and over again, these things happened to you...

YM: You stomach it and you go on. And it's no use creating a scene because it isn't going to help. When I went to work for one company, the supervisor there went around telling everybody, "How would you like to work with a Jap boy?" He went around and told the workers that. So they expected, they knew that I was coming. And I went there as a tool and die man there to upgrade their equipment. I had experience in drafting and all that, so I got on the board and I would change some of the things and lay it out. I had one drawing all practically completed, and I went out to lunch and I went back and it was just ruined. Scrawled all over the thing. I knew when I walked in that there would be ten, fifteen different sets of eyes looking through the window to see my reaction to that. I just took the paper off, put a new paper, sat down and started all over. I think I disappointed a lot of people because I didn't show any outright emotion. But why? Why do it? That's what they wanted.

TI: But inside, while this was happening, what were you feeling and thinking?

YM: Well, it didn't surprise me. It didn't surprise me. Because they've already labeled me as a "Jap scab" because I wouldn't join the union. I didn't want to get tied down to certain jobs and that's it. So I was trying to look ahead to what I'm trying to do ahead, not get tied down and not be limited to what I'm going to do. That's me, I'm a freelancer. [Laughs] Independent. This is why I get in trouble.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.