Densho Digital Archive
Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL Collection
Title: Jiro Sugidono Interview
Narrator: Jiro Sugidono
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Watsonville, California
Date: July 28, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-sjiro-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay, Jiro, we're gonna get started now. And today is Monday, July 28, 2008, and we are in Watsonville conducting an interview. And so, Jiro, I'm going to just start by asking when and where were you born?

JS: Oh, I was born in Watsonville, October 25, 1923.

TI: Great. And do you, do you recall where you were born? Was it in a hospital?

JS: Well, I'm not too sure, but the way it is, I think it was a midwife, Mrs. Enomoto. In those days they had midwife, and I think she's the one who brought me into the world.

TI: And do you know where that was? Was that in your house?

JS: I think it was. I think it was, I don't know where, but I think it was either by that Bridge Street, or that, well, I'm pretty sure it was that rental, Mr. Morimoto's house that we were renting at that time. I'm not too sure, but, 'cause I know Mrs. Enomoto is the one brought me to this world. And I know there's another lady who was a midwife, too, Mrs. Matsuoka, (yes), see, but she passed away already, too. They had two, I guess, two ladies that, in Watsonville that kind of helped the younger Japanese ladies.


TI: So when you were born, what was the name given to you?

JS: [Laughs] I don't know, the reason I kind of laugh is because I was born, on my birthday, the certificate says Niro, N-I-R-O, that means, more or less "second son" of Sugidono. But somehow, when I went to grade school, or kindergarten, they put a "J" on it, it's Jiro. But now it seemed like it's a pretty common name. They don't use Niro, they use Jiro with a J. So that's how I got stuck, I guess.

TI: So I want to understand -- so was that a mistake, or was it supposed to be Niro? Niro was your...

JS: (Yes), that was my given name.

TI: But then when people talk, or what did they call you? Like your mom and dad, what did they call you?

JS: Jiro.

TI: Okay.

JS: (Yes), Jiro, they don't say Niro. So I don't know how... well, it could have been a mistake when the Caucasians, they certified it, I don't know. See, instead of putting a "J," maybe they put an "N." But actually, I think that was right, 'cause that's, actually, "Niro" is, what do you call it, ichi, ni is Niro, so "second son." That's, my brother was named Ichiro, see.

TI: Okay, so you had an older brother Ichiro, and then you were the second one, Niro.

JS: (Yes).

TI: So that makes sense.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: So let's talk a little bit about your siblings. So you had an older brother.

JS: (Yes), I had an older brother, he's a 1922, then I am 1923, then I had a sister, Grace is 1924, then I had a sister, June in 1925, and then, then there was a break of three years, so it would be '(28) I guess, that was Alice, she was 1928, (yes). So we had five altogether.

TI: So, and the first four were all a year apart.

JS: (Yes), that's right. In fact...

TI: Ichiro, you, Grace and June.

JS: My wife Jane, she, a while back she talked to my mother about all this, (she) said, "How come you had so much kid right after another? Well, she said she didn't know about the birth control. [Laughs] Well, they told her, but I guess she didn't know how to do it or she didn't do it.

TI: So it was almost after she had a child, she would almost get pregnant right away.

JS: Oh, (yes). 'Cause, heck, that was, oh, I guess right after she got married. See, the picture I got about her, they have, my father and my mother have picture of the shop they got on Main Street. That was right after they came back from Japan, they got married, it must have been 1920 or '21 somewhere around there. And they, from there she just got the kids. So right after that -- and she was only sixteen when she came over from Japan.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So let's talk about your parents a little bit. Let's first talk about your father.

JS: Oh, (yes). I don't know when he came from Japan, but he must have came up early, 'cause when he came over here, someone said that he learned English at the church, you know, our Christian church. 'Cause we had some, couple of American ladies helping. I think he must have learned from that, 'cause he didn't know several word of American from Japan. 'Cause from what I know, he speak good English. In fact, I think when he went to Heald College, that must have been 1918 or 1919, somewhere around there. 'Cause I don't know if my wife showed you, but he had a... well, application or something for him to come at World War (I), and he's supposed to go in the army at that time. I thought he did, but they said, "Oh, he was called but he didn't go." 'Cause I know a friend of ours, Dr. Ito, he was in World War (I) -- I mean, in World War I. That's the only one I know that, Issei that was in World War I.

TI: Okay, so let me make sure I understand all this. So when your father first came from Japan, he didn't know hardly any English.

JS: (Yes).

TI: But then when he came to Watsonville, he learned at the church more English.

JS: (Yes), I think he, that's where he learned it.

TI: And about during this time, he also got, like, this notice or some kind of notice about possibly serving in the military during World War I.

JS: (Yes), right.

TI: But he didn't go.

JS: No, I don't know what happened, 'cause that was, must have been around 1918 or whatnot, about '19, around there, 'cause the war was over by then.

TI: And do you know how your father met your mother?

JS: Well, actually, what I heard about my father and my mother was telling me, especially my mother, that Sugidono, in the country, they live in the upper part of the mountain, and Fujimoto, that's my mother's maiden name, they were on the lower part of the mountain. And I guess that's how they know each other, and the story goes that my mother told my wife, Jane, that when my father went back to Japan to get married -- and I don't know if that was around 1918 or 1919 -- anyway, he went back and he was gonna marry the older Fujimoto daughter, but she didn't want to go. [Laughs] And the funny part is my mother, she was only sixteen, and she volunteered that she wanted to get married and go to America. And you know, I guess she heard that there's lot of opportunities in the United States and everything, and so she went with my father and my father married her instead. And later on, she found out, oh, she wished she was back in Japan. She didn't know it was so hard, you know, trying to make a living over here without knowing English or anything. 'Cause there was a lot of, I think later on I found out there was a lot of Issei ladies like my mother would really like to go back to Japan. 'Cause a lot of 'em got fooled from the picture bride. When they came over, they found out it was, there was a bunch of men standing. [Laughs] But fortunately, my father went there in person, so she knew what she was getting into. But she didn't know how hard they had to work to keep a living.

TI: And what was the age difference between your father and mother?

JS: Oh, my father was, it was more than me and my wife. Me and my wife is close to twelve years, and my father and my mother, I guess it could be, maybe close to twenty. 'Cause she was sixteen, I think my father was... (yes), he must have been in the twenty-something or better.

TI: Okay, so...

JS: It must have been over twenty (years) anyway.

TI: About twenty years. And so tell me, I forgot to ask, what was your father's name?

JS: Well, his Japanese name was Saichiro, but later, when he came to the United States, he took the American name of Roy. So that's why there's a picture of that shop he had, it kind of says, Roy Garage. So that was his name, Roy Saichiro.

TI: And your mother's name was?

JS: It was Asa. Well, naturally her maiden name was Fujimoto.

TI: And where in Japan were their families from?

JS: Oh, (yes). My father and my mother was Yamaguchi-ken, and the prefecture is, was it Yanai? I think it's Yanai.

TI: Yeah, I don't know.

JS: (Yes), see, it's in Yamaguchi-ken, but it's that village is Yanai or something like that, I forget what it was. 'Cause there's, in Watsonville, they got quite a bit people came from Yamaguchi. 'Cause I know the Shikuma and all those bigger old-time Watsonville now, there's quite a bit of people from the same area.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: So I'm curious, so in those early days, did they have, sort of, like kenjinkai picnics for Yamaguchi-ken?

JS: (No). Well, actually, they didn't. There were like Kagoshima, I know Kagoshima pretty, they stick together, I know. But Yamaguchi, we all had, all the Isseis, they had a Christian church or Buddhist church had their picnic together. Of course, it's something like, those days, like a JACL kind of, they just, all the Japanese got together at a picnic either at a beach or at country someplace.

TI: So can you describe one of those picnics for me? Like a big picnic, how many people would be there?

JS: Oh, in fact, those days, it seemed like, see, 'cause most of the Japanese people were farmers, so heck, when it came to, like, picnic, look like they all came out. It was a big, big deal. It was something like they didn't have television or anything like that, so it was something, a treat to get together and meet each other, talk about it, this and that. And they had regular races for the young kids and this and that. (Yes), it was nice. So those days, get together was just like exchanging information, (yes).

TI: And so about how many people would be there?

JS: Oh, I'd say, heck, there must be about maybe fifty to a hundred people, maybe more. I don't know. (Yes), there was quite a bit people.

TI: And was there a certain time of year that the --

JS: (Yes), usually it's right, right after springtime, right after the rain.

TI: And you mentioned, so the farmers would be there, everyone would come, it'd be a treat.

JS: (Yes). Oh (yes), because usually it, most of the people was, there weren't too many people like my father who worked in town. Mostly it was farmers, you know, 'cause that's, most of it's a farming country, so that's why when things like this come out, they all come out with the car, and they had bento and they just put it on the car, and just eat together.

TI: And so was it kind of like a big potluck where people would share or people would stay...

JS: No, they kind of individual, they talk, 'cause they eat individually, they didn't, they didn't talk -- I mean, eat together. It's not like they have potluck like what they do now. No, it was, 'cause it was a big group so they just threw out the blanket and just put out the goodies outside the front (of their car).

TI: So describe the foods. What would be some of the foods that your family --

JS: Oh, that was good, it was Japanese food. Just like we have New Year time, we had onigiri and fried chicken, teriyaki chicken and more like finger food. And they had, well, naturally, soda and things like that. But usually it was rice, rice ball and nigiri. It was good. Ate chicken, ate a lot of chicken.

TI: And so what did the kids do? You mentioned races, was there other activities that you guys did?

JS: Oh (yes). Sometimes we had it at the, at the beach, they (had) the fishing club, so a lot of people who come there, they bring their fishing pole and go out there, and they have contests, who got the biggest perch or whatever, or the smallest one. So they used to have prizes for those people, too. There was, at that time, as I say, there wasn't too much activity, so the people all came out and enjoyed themselves that way. So (yes), and the young people had to tag along because they didn't have tennis or things like that, so bowling, so they had to participate with the family, see.

TI: And how about the Isseis, your mother and father? During these picnics, what would they do?

JS: Well, usually they'll sit down and they go out and talk to each other and things like that. But they didn't move around too much, 'cause they just more or less relaxed. But sometimes, some of those people go see their friends nearby and just talked to 'em, this and that.

TI: And did the, did the families stay together, did, like, the men, like the Issei men, did they kind of group around, or how did that work?

JS: No, I didn't notice any of that. 'Cause it was more or less, they got together like a family. So I think they stuck together mostly, each family stayed within themselves, they didn't move around. I think later on they did, but at that time, they just, once they sit down, that's where they sit. [Laughs]

<End Segment 4> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: As we're talking about, sort of, these community things, how about, like, New Year's Day? What was that like?

JS: Oh (yes). Early time, I remember when they used to have New Year's, oh (yes), they didn't have just one, they had just, seemed like they had a whole week. 'Cause I know we had Japanese food for a long time, and at first, we didn't go to visit other people, but later on, we used to go to different, our friends' place, and when I was a little older, well, around grade school or high school, bunch of us younger guys go to different family, know them, and well, naturally, we go there, that's where they have drinks and things like that. And then we would go out to somebody's car and go to the country and meet our friends over there in the country. Those days, when they had New Year, every family had gotsou. So heck, they had teriyaki, rice balls, everything, and especially drink, sake, whatever. So...

TI: And so would you go around with your, your father or father and mother? Or how would this work when you went to another place?

JS: Oh, at first, I don't think at first my mother and father, they didn't make the rounds then. It was the younger people later, the Nisei, they started making the rounds, going to different family, go see their, their friend, family, this and that. (Yes), I used to go, I could name a few, like Tadas and Niyama and those people like that. We know the boys, the kids that we go over there, and so it's just like they invite us, but we just go there anyway.

TI: So in the same --

JS: It was open, you know.

TI: In the same way, people came to your place, too?

JS: (Yes), same thing, (yes).

TI: Now, did your mother have any specialty that she was really good at preparing?

JS: Oh (yes), she was, my wife, she made inarizushi, she brought it here, she learned that from my mother. And I don't know, everybody, well, I think it tastes like the way my mother did, make it. 'Cause my wife, she's pretty talented, too, so she learned from my mother. So every time they have get-together like this, she always volunteered to make it, you know.

TI: No, I had it last night. So it's a lighter, it's not, it's not really heavy.

JS: (Yes), she, I don't know how she does it, but sometimes I thought it, don't make it too greasy, you know. Hers -- and she don't fill it all in, she make it a little light so people could eat it instead of having a big ball. [Laughs]

TI: Okay, so last night I noticed that. When, the potluck, so the inarizushi, that was similar to how your mother used to make it?

JS: (Yes), oh (yes), and it tastes like, it's kind of sweet/sour taste, but it's still sweet. That's why it tastes good. (Yes), everybody tell her that, "It's like your grandma, I mean, your mother-in-law."

TI: Oh, that's good.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: I'm going to switch gears a little bit now and I want to talk about your, your dad's business. Can you tell me what he did in Watsonville?

JS: Well, my father, he might have been a good mechanic, but it seemed like he wasn't making money. [Laughs] 'Cause I don't know, there was too many credit, you know, people can't afford it or something, but, 'cause I know when the war broke out, there was several families came over and they couldn't pay what they're supposed to pay and so they brought, like Japanese people, they bring gallons of (shoyu) or something, you know, 'cause they can't afford to pay what they owe. So that's how, how it was in those days. And it was in the '30s, it was rough, too, see. So actually, he didn't get rich, anyway. So that's why my mother, right off the bat, she started working.

TI: Yeah, before we talk about your mother, so who were the customers of your father?

JS: Oh, mostly there was Issei farmers and things, they used to bring their old jalopy and their, get it tuned up, oil changed, things like that, fix the tire. But I know a lot of times, later on, that I had to go looking for him when the customer comes. He'll be going to, there's a Japanese grocery store, Sugiyama, and that's where all the Japanese menfolks hang out and play hana in the back. And sure enough, I know where to go, I go over there, he's playing over there, I called and tell him there's a customer. Or else, if I don't find him there, I'll go to Main Street and I go to the pool hall. I see him over there, he's playing pool with Mr. Iwami, he's the barber. And they played pool, and so that's how they passed the time. When he's not busy, he'd just leave the garage.

TI: So it sounds like your father was a very social person.

JS: Well, he was kind of a laid back guy. (Yes), he didn't take life that serious, maybe that's why he didn't get rich. But he was a nice guy, and I know he liked to drink, but I never did see him get drunk. He's one of those types that buy the sake by gallon, he takes little bit and say that's his medicine. He'd just drink one cup and then he'd go back to work or something. But I never saw him drunk. So he was a good natured guy.

TI: Now, when things got busy at the shop, did you and your older brother ever have to help out at the shop?

JS: Well, I, I don't know. I was the second son, and my brother, he was more interested in the garage, he usually helped my father. Like me, I never did like that, I always kind of evaded work. I liked to play basketball and so I would sneak out and go to the church. Our church was right there by First Street, so (yes), that church was open all the time so they got basketball court, I used to practice myself there. I liked sports; I didn't like to work. [Laughs]

TI: So it sounds like your older brother was the one who helped out in the shop.

JS: (Yes), he was the one, that's why he took over the garage later. 'Cause we, later on, we both went to same school in L.A. After the GI Bill of Rights, after the war, (yes). He went there and he graduated first, and then I went there afterward. I graduated, but I didn't, I just lasted about one year working in Salinas, but I just didn't like working in confinement, I liked to farm.

TI: So it sounds like your brother enjoyed doing that, but you didn't enjoy it.

JS: Oh, (yes), he seemed to like it.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So I want to talk about the shop itself. Where was the shop located?

JS: Well, see, it was right in Main Street, it's on that lower Main on the west side. And it was right there, I got a picture of that, it was called Roy Garage or something, I don't know. Anyway, he had a shop there, and I guess he specialized in vulcanized tire. My mother was, I guess, when they first opened, that's right after she got married, she was already sixteen. And next to that there was a Yamaguchi grocery store -- oh, there were all, lot of Japanese, there was, next to my father, one side, there was a Mr. Enomoto, they had a grocery store, too. And they had tofu-ya, and they had, oh, they had about two or three tofu-ya, one was the Morimune, and then one was Murakami. And there was a lot of Chinese gambling joints in there. (Yes), there was quite a bit of Chinese gambling joints.

TI: Well, so how did the Japanese and Chinese get along?

JS: Oh, as far as I know, I didn't see no, there was no incident, you know, I mean, guys fight or anything like that. They got along good, (yes).

TI: And so the Japanese would go to the, to the Chinese gambling places?

JS: Oh, (yes). Those times, early times, there was a lot of the Issei wasn't married, see. So they, what they make, they just spent it all in the Chinese gambling joint. And then, it was interesting, was Mr. Torigori got a shop further down on lower Main, he has a bicycle shop and a watch repair, and then another thing I don't think a lot of guys know, he was something like a loan shark. 'Cause lot of, there was a lot of Filipinos, and (...) they're single. So when they go to the gambling place, well, they always come see him afterwards. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, so they had to borrow money from him.

JS: Oh, (yes). They hocked their watches or something like that.

TI: Oh, so almost like a pawn shop, too.

JS: (Yes), that's right. (Yes), that's what it is, more or less. 'Cause I know, 'cause lot of Filipino came to his shop, and I know they didn't come to buy something. They always go in the back and get some money, loaned money.

TI: And so then when they got their wages, then they would go back and pay off...

JS: Oh, (yes), they'd claim their watch or whatever. So, in fact, that time, there was a lot of loan shark at Watsonville, especially those Jewish people, they had second-, they call it second-hand store, but it was loan shark. You could hock your watch or anything you want.

TI: So there were a lot of different ethnic groups.

JS: Oh, (yes).

TI: How did the ethnic groups get along? You mentioned the Jewish community, the Chinese...

JS: Watsonville is like a melting pot. There was a lot of, lot of whatchacall, the big farmer was a Slovenial. You had, like the Resetar, Scurich and all that, they all came from the old, old country. And most of them came from the same area, and heck, they made, they became rich, you know. 'Cause the Resetar brothers, the three of 'em, you could say they made an empire in lettuce. And they started buying a lot of orchard, too, you know, build (apple) orchards, so heck, they got the restaurant/hotel, so they made good money. And then there was a Slovenial and what do you call that? Portuguese, lot of Portuguese, and then there's lot of Filipinos. At that time, it was mostly young Filipino come to work in the field. And later on they started getting married from the old country. (Yes), it was a, there was quite a bit of Chinese, too.

TI: And so back in those days, did each ethnic group have a different part of town where they lived in, or did they all mix?

JS: (Yes), 'cause the lower Main, there was mostly, you could say, Oriental, like Chinese, Filipinos and Japanese. But then the upper, upper Main, I guess, there was mostly Slovenial and things like that. (Yes), 'cause, well, I don't know if you call that a racist thing or not, but I guess they went by, according to the money. 'Cause most of those guys had money, they built the Watsonville, they got the, there was a hotel made from the Slovenial, and they got those shopping store made from those Caucasians. But then there, we had quite a bit Oriental on lower Main, oh (yes).

<End Segment 7> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: So I want to go back to your father's business. I mean, California back then, they had laws like alien land laws, which prevented your father, the Isseis from owning land. So did he own his property or lease it? How did that work?

JS: Some, I don't know how he got it, but anyway, he got that, I don't know, maybe if I say it now, maybe they'd get prosecuted, but anyway, the Issei couldn't own, own property because they're "aliens." So what they did was the son, see, that'd be my brother, he was a Nisei so they put his name on, but they put another guardian, older Nisei. See, like there was an older Nisei like (...) Mr. Uyeda, Uyeda, and he was older, and you know, they were older, they put his name on as a guardian, see. They, that's how they got by. So (yes), my father got that property, when we moved to First Street, we built a new house there, he got all his friends and built a house there, and he built a garage there, wood garage, and later on, my brother, when he took over, he built a concrete garage, he covered it. But that's what they told me, that Mr. Uyeda's name was on there, and that's how I think most of the Issei got their property.

TI: They would put it in the names of their, of Niseis.

JS: 'Cause they're born here, so they're entitled to it.

TI: Because the Isseis, because they were aliens, could not own land, they had their Niseis, sons do that. Let's go to your mother. You had just talked about what your mother did, because you said your father's business didn't make much money? So what did your mother do?

JS: Actually, you could say my mother was the breadwinner, (yes). You could tell, 'cause -- I hate to say it -- but she was one of those Issei that's really, watch what she spent and where she... I could say, well, you could say she was pretty tight. [Laughs] Or "frugal," maybe you could say.

TI: So your mother was very frugal, okay.

JS: Oh (yes), 'cause she was really, oh she's, you'd be surprised. She lived until 102 (years), and she paid her own way to the rest home. She had saved over $200,000 just for that. I said, "Why don't spend it? Enjoy yourself." No, she always tells us that she don't want to have us be burdened for her care, see. So she kept it herself and she used it. And well, naturally, we help her build it up, but when we were young, everything we made, she put in the bank.

TI: And so what kind of work did she do back then?

JS: She, mostly she did housework or summertime, when we were out of school, she took us to the ranch, picked berries and things like that. So we used to, my father ran the garage, but he used to take us to the ranch to work. So we usually worked for the Japanese farmer, picked strawberries or -- not strawberries, bushberry. So, I mean, it wasn't that much, but (yes), that accumulated, 'cause we had five kids, all helped.

TI: And when she did housework, who did she do housework for?

JS: Oh, she did it with the Caucasian ladies, and some hakujin from business, owned a shoe shop or something like that. And I think, every time, I know, I don't think my mother -- my father took her to work, she either walked to the place or they came after her. So she never did get a ride all the time, but only time, she got rides from some of the places where she worked, they'd give her a ride home, but mostly she walked. Maybe that's why she's so healthy, I don't know.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: You mentioned earlier your father spoke English.

JS: (Yes).

TI: How about your mother? Did she speak English?

JS: Well, not, not like my father. She, she did broken English, you know. In fact, in the '50s, she wanted to become a citizen. And at that time, if you wanted to become a citizen, you got to take a test in English. So what she did is she wrote, the word in English, she put kana, you know, if it says "fish," she'll point and say in Japanese, "fi-shi," something like that, and that's how she learned.

TI: So she used the Japanese katakana.

JS: Kana on the American words, see, that's how she learned. I don't see how she did it, but she got her citizen in the 1950s. High school, the teacher was -- in fact, I had a teacher when I went to high school, Mr. Rowland. He was a government teacher, so (yes), he was a nice guy. 'Cause I remember when I was in school, high school when the war broke out, he's the first teacher when we had class, he told all the students there, he said, "Well, I want to make an announcement that this is not for the student here, Japanese students. What happened is not their fault, it's from Japan, so behave accordingly."

TI: Okay, so this was after the bombing of Pearl Harbor --

JS: (Yes), right after Pearl Harbor.

TI: -- he made that, he made that comment.

JS: Still went back to school.

TI: Okay. So we'll get more into that later. I want to talk a little bit, so when you were at home, you and your brother and sisters, how did you communicate with your parents? Was it in English or Japanese?

JS: [Laughs] You know, to tell the truth, I never did communicate too good with my father -- I mean, my mother. Especially those serious thing, like about money or health, anything like that, I couldn't express that in English or Japanese. So I ended up getting mad and just walk away, 'cause I can't say it. I never did, I didn't learn that Japanese language too good. I went to Japanese school, but I always was playing hooky or something. [Laughs]

TI: How about your younger sisters like Grace and June who were just a little bit younger? Did they speak more Japanese?

JS: (Yes), they seemed like learned a little more. 'Cause when you speak it, you could learn more that way, and I didn't, see. So only way I kind of maybe talked to my father, 'cause he spoke mostly English to us. My mother, she spoke broken English, and I guess she got mad, too, 'cause she couldn't understand what I'm trying to say. [Laughs] So it was hard. If you want to talk to your family, you gotta have the same communication, you know.

TI: Well, with your father, did he ever talk to you about being Japanese, what that meant, like being Nihonjin or anything like that?

JS: No... I hear some of the parents like Shig Kizuka, he told me his father was really against staying here after the war. He was really against it 'cause he got pulled in right after war started, he got thrown in the whatchacallit, camp right away. And so my father, I don't know, I never said or heard them say anything derogatory, you know, anything against the United States. 'Cause it might be, this story might come later when I was in camp, when I volunteered, I thought maybe he might get angry at me, you know.

TI: We'll do that later. I want to do that in more sequence. But things like, they sent you to Japanese school before the war, so they must have felt that it was important for you to learn Japanese.

JS: (Yes), they were. Of course, at that time, when we went to Japanese school, well, it was in the '30s, so those times were pretty rough. So they charge, not individually, but the family. So we had, what, five kids going. Well, actually we had four, 'cause my younger sister was too young. And we had a Japanese teacher from Japan and boy, they were pretty strict. [Laughs] They got a ruler and if you're, don't pay attention, whack. (Yes), it was... but I don't know why, but I just couldn't get the, get the hang of it.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: And so how frequently did you go to Japanese school?

JS: I think we used to go two or three times a week, right after school. We used to -- Japanese school was right there, right on lower Main, a block... (yes), right there by Union Street. That's where it used to be the, where the Nisei had a baseball field, then we had a big Toyo Hall there, where we had Japanese movies and everything, get-together, and in the front of it they had Japanese school. And they had a room for the teacher's family. It was pretty, they had about two or three rooms, it was pretty good. Then we, later on, we had two Japanese teacher, one was Mr. Motoki, he was Watsonville. Then later he went to San Francisco, and he was more, I think, born over here. But the other one was from Japan. But then, see, that Japanese school is right near the levee, and we used to always go to the levee first. [Laughs]

TI: So the levee to go, what, swimming?

JS: Pajaro River. But it's not like now; all that time we, prewar days, they have a, the river was pretty. Lot of birds, that's why they call it Pajaro, birds, birdy. But heck, now it's, it's all, it got bad because they dumped lot of things, everything there.

TI: But back in the '30s, you would go play at the levee before you would...

JS: (Yes), we used to go over there and, bunch of our, my friends like Fred Oda and the other guy, we used to go over there, borrow some corn from a farmer and go to the river and burn it on the open fire. Husk it all, we used to eat that, eat that corn like that. (Yes), we had a lot of fun, 'cause they had, the river was clean. We used to call it first hole, second hole, every maybe half a mile, 'cause big hole, see.

TI: A big hold you said, hold?

JS: Holes would be where you could swim.

TI: Oh, okay.

JS: (Yes).

TI: Like a swimming hole that you could...

JS: (Yes). So heck, it was nice. It was clean, it's not like now, water's not even moving because lot of tules and all that. (Yes), so that's why it was called Pajaro River, people from Spain saw that first thing. It's pretty flower and birds and everything, but people, I think, eventually destroy everything.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So I want to ask a little bit more about just regular school. And so what was regular school like for you?

JS: Well, at first I went to kindergarten and Radcliff school, 'cause I live in, right on, after I moved to First Street, that was in the '30s, I was going to Radcliff. And I went to kindergarten there, and then fourth grade, they had up to fourth grade, and from fourth grade I went to Lescott, that was on Elm Street. And then from there, oh, I went to grammar school, that's right in where the YMCA is now. See, the old grammar school, they just tore it down, it was wood, and we were the first to go to E.A. Hall, they just finished that new school, E.A. Hall, and we were the first to go in, first to graduate, and that was 1937, and I went to high school from '38 to '42. But actually, the war broke out '41, so we didn't get no diploma. We had, when we went to Salinas camp, that's where we, our principal, McQuiddy, brought the diploma, we got it there in Salinas camp.

TI: Oh, so the Watsonville High School principal came to Salinas to give you your diploma.

JS: Watsonville principal, and naturally there was a (Mrs. Worthington, Dean of Girls), she came with him. Well, we had a prom or whatever you called it, prom, I don't know. But they had a dance, the older girls taught us how to dance. [Laughs]

TI: So you had a prom in, at Salinas?

JS: Well, it was kind of informal, like a get-together.

TI: Or a dance. And can you describe that ceremony in Salinas when the principal came with the diplomas? How did they do that?

JS: I don't know. I don't remember too much, all I know is he came to Salinas camp. That's, camp is whatchacallit, rodeo. See, we were staying, living in a stable, horse stable, so anyway, all I know is he came to the Salinas camp and gave us, I don't know what the procedure was, but we got our diploma there.

TI: Now, do you remember how you felt about that? Because he didn't have to do that; this is uncommon a little bit for a principal to...

JS: I don't know, 'cause I think I'm... I don't know, I don't get excited too much. I didn't, I didn't feel hurt or anything, I didn't, I didn't think I was (ready) from anything. I just...

TI: Or were you perhaps maybe a little grateful that he took the effort to, to give you...

JS: (Yes), I was thankful that they came to give me a diploma. 'Cause that was, what, April, January... May, April yet. It wasn't even time to graduate yet, see, 'cause you're supposed to graduate in June, but we were in the camp already. So, well, later on, in '92, that was fifty years since we were supposed to graduate, Mas Hashimoto, I think he arranged it with the ninety-two graduates, hospital, and asked if the graduates from '42 could be there at the same time, and they says, "Okay." So we, they made a special place where, us to sit. Next to the ninety-two graduates, there was quite a bit Japanese from '42. I'll bet you there was oh, about thirty or forty people, maybe more. You know, guys like Shig Kizuka, Hirano, Izumizaki, Matsumoto, but the, most of 'em passed away now.

TI: And so going back to 1942, or even '41, in your class at Watsonville High School, how many Japanese Americans were in your class?

JS: Gee, I tell you, if I bring that, my '42 book there, man, you could see that there (were many) Japanese (students).

TI: Like what percentage, do you think? Maybe was it...

JS: It was between '41, '42 and '43 had the most Japanese. '44, too, but they didn't graduate, they graduated in camp. So, but gee, I would say, well, I would say there was at least maybe quarter, maybe.

TI: Wow. So a quarter of the student body was Japanese American? And so when they left the school, that left a big hole there.

JS: Oh, (yes). 'Cause, but funny thing, I looked in my '42 book, they didn't mention nothing about us. They didn't say, I thought they would say at least the '42 students wasn't able to come or this and that, but they didn't say nothing.

TI: Now I'm curious, going back to your elementary school, like at Radcliff, when you're in kindergarten through fourth grade, what percentage of you, of your class was Japanese American back then? Do you remember, was it about the same percentage?

JS: No, it was a little, little less. 'Cause when it came to high school, a lot of those Japanese came from rural country (school).

TI: Okay, so the farming, the farming families all came to...

JS: That's right. They were more country, see, they had Roache school and, well, I don't know, Corralitos, those other places. But then the one, when I went to school, there weren't, there weren't that many... well, people who live in town. But mostly they were, rural schools had the most.

TI: And so I'm curious, how did the, for the Japanese Americans, how did the town Japanese Americans get along with the farming Japanese Americans? Was there ever any tension between the two?

JS: Oh, well, I'm a city boy, but you know, I didn't hear those complaints by the farmer, by the Japanese, but there must have been some incident because... but then, see, when they left for camp, like the Shikumas, they let their ranch to an American farmer, they took care of it. (Yes), and then when they came back, they kind of gave it back to them. So (yes), they made those guys, couple other farmers like Thomas Hara, he did, he did the same thing, he took over some other, Shikumas or... and didn't make money. But I didn't hear no incident of somebody losing their ranch. Like the Hiraharas, you saw the two sisters, that's the Hiraharas.

TI: Oh, right.

JS: (Yes), they were married to Nishihara. Well, his brother, he passed away, he was the same age (as) I was. He was, fortunately, when he into camp, he had this lawyer take care of it, McCarthy, that when he came back, he got it back.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: So Jiro, we're gonna start the second part. And so the first part we talked more about before the war. And now, I'm gonna now jump to December 7, 1941, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Can you tell me where you were when you heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

JS: Oh, I remember, the reason I remember is we had a radio on the car coming home from work, I think we went to either Hollister or Gilroy, I don't know, either picking apple or something. And, 'cause at that... I don't know, that was winter months, so we heard that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. But I don't know if... I don't remember if I got really excited or not, you know. Anyway, of course, at that time, I was only... not even eighteen, eighteen, around there. Anyway, I don't remember too much about that. All I know is I just heard it on the radio, the car radio and then we came home. And then the city start -- well, it wasn't the city, it was the army starting saying that, okay, all the Japanese people, especially the "aliens," have to move from the west side of Main Street to, to east side. 'Cause the west side of Main Street was by the side of the ocean, Pacific Ocean. Then our garage was, house was right by the west side, and all the aliens like the Japanese alien, the Italian and Germany, had to go on the other side. So my father and mother rented a place on Bridge Street, it's just a half a block away, and a Japanese family owned it, Mr. Yoshida, and we called that "clubhouse," 'cause they got a small place to eat and sleep. And every time to eat, we went over there to eat and then come home. And that's how it was before we got evacuated. And they had a curfew --

TI: Well, I'm curious about the Main Street boundary again. So why do you think they made Main Street the boundary? Did that make sense?

JS: (Yes), because that, 'cause anything on the west side is right by, toward the ocean, see, and they don't want no alien to be spying or what they (might do).

TI: But why did they make it right down the middle of town? Why didn't they make it like maybe the west boundary of town?

JS: (Yes), that's right. It was all the way through (north) and south Main Street, it was the boundary. Anybody west side of Main Street had to move to the east side, and the boundary was Main Street, that goes (south and north).

TI: And so your father's shop, was that on the west side or the east side?

JS: (Yes), the west side, see.

TI: So he couldn't work then after that.

JS: No. No, that's right. He moved, so... in fact, when the war broke out, I don't think, I don't know if he closed it or what, but, (yes). To think about it, I don't know if he did work.

TI: But your, so your mother and father couldn't go on the west side of Main Street because they were aliens or Issei, first generation. But you and your brother, you could go on the, on the west side.

JS: Oh, (yes), we lived there on that (side), where the (house is).

TI: So your parents lived someplace else?

JS: (Yes). In fact, we were separated. That's where a lot of, (yes), a lot of Isseis had to do that. There was, but, see, there's a lot of Italian in Watsonville. I don't know, they did that, they moved one day, before we know it, he'd get back the next day.

TI: Oh, so the Italians went back to the west side?

JS: Oh, (yes). Their guys, Corsetti, he's a big shot in Watsonville, and I don't think they allowed that, I don't know.

TI: Oh, so initially, they said all "enemy aliens," and it'd be Japanese, German and Italian, had to be on the east side.

JS: East side.

TI: East side. But then you're saying the Italians after a while just went back --

JS: Oh, (yes), that's what I noticed, a lot of 'em came back.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: Now, did, did having the boundary on Main Street cause, or how did that affect things like shopping? If people wanted to shop on the other side of Main Street, how would they do that?

JS: That was funny, kind of funny. 'Cause my father had his car on the west side -- I mean, east side, and then evacuation come and they'd, they were saying that you gotta go buy a... you know, you could take so much clothes and things like that, so my mother wanted to buy some suitcase and things like that. And the J.C. Penney at that time was on the west side of Main Street, so what she did was, came with a car which she parked on the west side, but she can't get out. So what we did, we went inside the J.C. Penney on the west side, and brought the clothes she wants, showing her and then she said, "Okay, that's good," and suitcase, too, we brought it out to show her and she said, "Okay, that's fine, good." And they, but they couldn't get out of the car.

TI: So this was you and your, your brother and sisters, you would show them.

JS: (Yes), that's right.

TI: And how did the people at J.C. Penney react when you came outside and showed people what you were gonna buy? They were okay with that?

JS: [Laughs] Well, I guess, I guess they knew about the restriction, I guess, I don't know. 'Cause it was kind of weird, 'cause here you were treated like an alien, you know, I mean, "enemy alien." And they can't get out, and so that's, that's how it was. And usually those times you see those big box, I don't know if your folks bought those big boxes to put the clothes in, well, we still got ours in the garage. It's empty, but, you know, heck, wood boxes and metal clipping and everything, the J.C. Penney had it. And they had curfew that came, all the aliens, and I guess they were pertaining to say the Japanese people, too, that I think it was seven or, seven o'clock or eight o'clock, somewhere around there. Had to be in the house. Heck, we were young yet, so heck, we didn't, we didn't mind that. We just, my friends like Fred Oda, those guys, we used to go up, upper Main Street, walking around, this and that.

One incident we had was, see, Fort Ord is right there by, little past this side of Monterey, that's where lot of, lot of infantrymen training. And then a lot of those guys came to Watsonville, some of those guys, they were mostly hakujin. And they came and they saw us, and they thought we were Japanese, I guess. They ask, "What are you?" I told 'em, "Oh, we're Mongolian," but they didn't do anything. So we just walked away.

TI: Oh, so these were kind of trainees from Fort Ord, or they just...

JS: Oh (yes), they were (draftee) like...

TI: Recruits.

JS: And what do you call the... not recruit, but maybe guys got drafted.

TI: So like they're in basic training, kind of?

JS: (Yes).

TI: And so they were here on furlough or something in Watsonville?

JS: Well, it could be a furlough or pass.

TI: Or pass.

JS: Usually those kind of guys, they're just looking for trouble, that's all.

TI: And so rather than hassle, you just said you were Mongolian and then they'd leave you alone.

JS: Oh, (yes). So to make a confusion, we could say we were Chinese, they probably won't know the difference anyway. [Laughs] At that time, that lower Main, they had Chinese grocery store. I don't know, you probably saw the, on the window it says, "We're Chinese Americans," see. But they were good people, though, 'cause heck, lot of those people couldn't afford to buy something, they'd give 'em credit at that time.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Now, did you hear any incidences of, like, the police picking up Isseis because they were on the wrong side of Main Street, or picking up people because of the curfew?

JS: No. I know, being Japanese, when they're told to do something, they do it. Because otherwise, it's just like my, my kids, they're Sansei, they ask, "Hey Dad, how come you didn't do anything? (Yes), you got thrown in like this, why didn't you do something? How come you didn't fight?" Well, I told 'em, "How could we? We got our father and mother there, and (yes), they're Isseis. If worst become worst, they might even send them back to Japan, see." And so what the heck, so I don't think there was any incident of Nisei making trouble. 'Cause it's not like what those other nationalities did when they start burning the city, this and that, well, the Japanese people, they didn't do anything like that. So maybe that's why the Sansei even like you, you probably kind of question that. We should have done something.

TI: No, I had the same conversation with my father. This was, this was a while back, though, maybe thirty years ago I talked to him about that.

JS: But gee, I don't know. When you think about your folks, what you gonna do? If you make it worse for them, they might send 'em back or do something worse. On top of that, my father -- I don't know if my wife showed you that -- he was ready to get drafted in World War I, 'cause he has a card, but somehow he didn't go. Maybe the war was over or what. But so actually, he, to me, he didn't seem to be against joining the army or anything like that, 'cause he didn't say that he would go back to Japan or anything like that.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: So, so I want to ask now, so pretty soon you have to start making preparations to leave Watsonville. And earlier you talked about how your family owned the property.

JS: (Yes).

TI: So what happened to the property? How did, what did you need to do to prepare that?

JS: Well, we were, fortunately, I think where we were living, we lived there since 1970 -- I mean, 1930, and most of the people around there was Latino and Chinese family, and they knew each other pretty good. We didn't have no trouble, any of the people stealing from each other, you know. So when the war broke out and they said we had to evacuate, so only thing what we did was left everything in the house and locked it up. And we had an Italian friend that lived on the corner, Mr. Merendoni, and we asked him if he could kind of look, look at the property. And I don't know if we gave him the key or not, but I don't think we did. Anyway, when we came back, nothing was, our house wasn't broken in at all. So too bad I didn't get to thank him enough, 'cause they're all, both, both of 'em are passed away already. (Yes), they were nice people.

TI: So that was easy, then, for you, because you just locked up the house and then you left.

JS: 'Cause most of the other Japanese people, they were either renting their houses, so when they came back, they had to stay at the Buddhist church hostel or something like that. And, but we had a place to stay, so, (yes), and so we were fortunate.

TI: So, and so when you had to leave, what was that like? Where did you have to go?

JS: Oh, (yes). I don't know if you knew about it, but Mas Hashimoto, he's really active in the JACL. He, a while back, maybe you heard about that program he had about that evacuation of Watsonville.

TI: Right, he did a reenactment?

JS: (Yes), that's what. Well, that's where we went, went through that, went to the VFW, we went there and the bus picks, picked us up there and went, I think from there we went to... oh, (yes), Salinas Assembly Center. We stayed there at the Salinas, rodeo ground, stayed at that... well, I guess it was a stable. Heck, we stayed, I think it was either February, March, April, I know 'cause when we left there, it was July the 4th. (Yes), 'cause I remembered that was one of the hottest time in Arizona. And oh, I tell you, because went there one day before, but we were unfortunate, we were shipped right to Camp 1, which is mostly L.A. and Boyle Heights, the southern people, you know. And we were kind of separated from Camp 2, they were mostly from central California.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: And that's, so this is Poston. Before we go to Poston, or talk more about this, tell me a little bit more about Salinas. What was, what did you do during those several months you were there?

JS: Oh, usually they had, it's just like the regular camp. They had barracks and they had, you know, they made a kitchen, they had a place where you could take a shower, things like that, same thing. They had to build extra, see. And the only thing that keep us going was they had sports, baseball, basketball, things like that. Mostly people that was in Salinas was people from Santa Cruz County and San Bernardino County, that's Gilroy, Hollister and Watsonville and Santa Cruz. So... well, I don't know. That's where whatchacall, when we went to assembly, that's where I got my diploma in 1942, the diploma.

TI: Right, so you told about that earlier. So you mentioned doing lots of, maybe sports like baseball, and you earlier mentioned Mas Hashimoto.

JS: (Yes).

TI: He told me that one of his brothers...

JS: (Yes), I know the, I was right there. They were playing baseball, you know, just, I guess it was more or less a get-together. And he was, his brother was Norio, he's the older... there was, Mas is the youngest, then, and there was another one, (Masaru), and Norio was the third one. They had a lot of brothers, all boys, Hashimoto. And Norio was just watching the baseball, and then one of the, I don't want to say names, but he hit a fly ball and it happened to hit him on his head or something.

TI: Oh, so Norio was just, was watching. He wasn't playing, he was just watching.

JS: (Yes), he got hit, and I guess that killed him. So concussion, I don't know what happened anyway. Heck, he was pretty young yet. And that was in 1942, (yes).

TI: Now, so that must have been difficult for lots of the Watsonville people, because it was a pretty close community to go through something like that.

JS: (Yes). Of course, that was a tragedy, something like that happened.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

JS: So from there, in July, I think, (yes), we started going into camp, Poston.

TI: And so you said that was like the very hottest time for, for Arizona?

JS: Oh, it was hot enough already, but their camp had Camp 1, Camp 2 and Camp 3. Camp 1 was mostly from southern California.

TI: And so initially you went to Camp 1.

JS: (Yes), first, (yes).

TI: And then what was it like to be with the, the southern, more southern California, Los Angeles people, what was that like?

JS: Well, you don't know any of the people, you know, my father and mother, especially my mother didn't like it. She wanted to go to Camp 2 where they know all the people. There was quite a bit of Watsonville people in the same area with us.

TI: In Camp 1?

JS: (Yes), there's the Wadas, there was Sakai, Hayashi, all those. They were, I don't know why we got to shipped to, sent to Camp 1. Because near the end of it, we went to Camp 1, and the other ones went to Camp 2. So my mother asked to get transferred, so we went to Camp 2, we went to way on the 220, that's way out in the boondocks, they were, some of those barracks weren't even finished yet, they're still fixing it.

TI: But I want to go back to Camp 1, and was there, did you see differences between, like, the Los Angeles families and the Watsonville families and how they did things?

JS: Well, no, 'cause I never did associate with 'em. But some of the younger guys, I noticed they were more open, you know. They talked big, this and that.

TI: So they were kind of the big city, big city guys?

JS: (Yes), the Boyle Heights guys and things like that. I don't know if they were troublemakers or not, but anyway, they were something like a gang, anyway. But I didn't have no trouble with them.

TI: How about things like what they wore? Did they wear different clothes than what, what you wore, or was it about the same?

JS: (Yes), they were basically the same thing. Maybe some of those guys had, at that time, short pants, things like that, I don't know. Maybe their hair is a little different, longer. [Laughs] But then, other than that, when we went to Camp 2, we got together with most of the Watsonville guys, 'cause 220, there was 219, 220, 221 and 222, that there was a block. It was mostly Watsonville and Salinas, and they had all the people from, (Selma) or Clovis people. 'Cause they were, see, we were, we went in late, so that's why we were with the Salinas bunch.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: So it sounds like you were on the very end of the, the camp?

JS: The end.

TI: So there's a lot more open space out there?

JS: Oh, (yes). 220, we made a basketball court on the, well, you could call it a desert, it's all sand, and then you could further, you could walk to the Colorado River, you could go over there fishing. So in fact, at that time, we were about the first one to make our own golf course. (Yes), 'cause heck, you'd be surprised, Camp 2, Camp 1 used to have tournament. (Yes), Camp 1 got a lot of good golfers, and Camp 2 had good golfer, too. (...) Salinas was, John Urabe, oh, (yes), he was single handicap, and (yes), so that's why he taught lot of us how to play.

TI: So how do you build a golf course in the, in the desert?

JS: Like the, where we call it green, it's all sand, but we smooth it out, then when we land on the green, where the hole is, we got a tee wood and scrape it smooth and hit it hard as heck. [Laughs] That's the only way the balls kind of sink in. But we just smooth it and it'd get kind of a little hard. But you'd be surprised, there's, one guy especially was good, he learned to play golf there, first time, oh, and when we came back he was single handicap. He was a four or five for a long time. His name was Kiyo Sakai, oh, he was good. And he's one of those types that is, if it's a five iron or whatever, he'd just take that out and practice that all day out there. And we used to play golf, I guess, in Camp 1. So (yes), we had a pretty good tournament.

TI: And so you actually had tournaments, but where would you get enough clubs and balls for a tournament?

JS: We, it was surprising, lot of those golf clubs we got through J.C. Penney. (Yes), they, I don't know if you remember, if they got it now, but the handle is kind of yellow orange, orange. (Yes), all those golf clubs that they got at the camp, they ordered through the mail order, J.C. Penney. (Yes), that's where I got mine.

TI: And so would you order a full set?

JS: (Yes).

TI: Even with a driver, or just irons?

JS: Well, usually they, they get the wood, driver, and they made two... I don't know, it was maybe a whole set.

TI: And how long would be like the longest hole?

JS: Well, it'd be no more than maybe little over 200 (yards).

TI: Two hundred yards?

JS: Yard, I mean.

TI: So like a par four, you would have.

JS: (Yes). 'Cause it was fun. But it was, if you could hit it straight, it was pretty good. But even then, it's in the sun, it's sand, so you, I guess we got a, what do you call, a winter months (rule), we improved our lie, 'cause you hit the ground, bury in the sand.

TI: So what would be the typical hazards out on the, the golf course?

JS: Well, it's, the hazard is the one we make ourselves. When you hit way to the left or right, or hit into the brush or whatever it is. 'Cause if you stay in the freeway, I mean, the what you call it, the fairway, well, heck, you got a pretty good chance. You get two good stroke, you're right up there.

TI: And did you have to worry about things like rattlesnakes out there?

JS: Oh, (yes). That's why, especially when you go to Colorado River, watch out by the edge of the water where there's any brush or anything, or a hole, don't put your hand in there. Make sure, 'cause that's where the rattlesnakes try to hide from the sun. Oh, (yes), anything, even under the barrack, there'd be rattlesnakes. But I didn't see any, but it'd be scorpions, things like that. So far, I never heard anybody get bitten.

TI: So if you hit your ball off to the side under a bush or something, you'd have to be careful that there was nothing else underneath that.

JS: (Yes). 'Cause I know, when I was in camp, they start letting us go out to work, like Nebraska or anyplace, sugar beets, things like that. Even there, I went to work over there in Nebraska, I was, (...) pitchforking hay or something, I lift it up, rattlesnake. They got lot of 'em. Oh boy, you gotta watch out.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: Well, so while you were at Poston, eventually they came out with a "loyalty questionnaire."

JS: Oh, (yes).

TI: Do you remember that? What was that like?

JS: Oh, boy, that question, boy, that turned lot of friend against each other. 'Cause in a way, you can't blame the, the people who come from Japan, see, 'cause in a way, they were thrown in the camp. Some of these younger guys, they were younger than I was, they didn't understand that, the older Nisei told the younger guys to write, "no-no."

TI: So let me understand this. So there, like, younger Niseis who weren't as experienced, there were older ones who were telling them what to do?

JS: Oh, (yes). Lot of the older ones who resent being thrown in the camp, was kind of telling the younger Nisei what to do, influencing them, which is bad.

TI: Now, do you have a sense, these older Niseis who were saying that, was it because they were more pro-Japanese, or were they just angry at the U.S.?

JS: Some were, but most of 'em were resentful. (Yes), they were saying, "Why you want to go fight against your own country, I mean, fight for your own country when, heck, you get thrown in camp?" and things like that. And like me, I didn't have no qualm, I didn't think no way, I just said, "yes-yes." And a lot of the guys who said "no-no" was going to get sent to Tule Lake, eventually they were gonna get exchanged. I was wondering, "What was Tule Lake for?" that was the reason why. Lot of guys went there 'cause they were going to go back to Japan. Well, later on, lot of guys went there not because they wanted to go, but that's where they sent them.

TI: Now, did any of your friends say "no-no" and go to Tule Lake?

JS: Well, (yes), some of our friends went there, but I don't think he went to Japan. They were, certain block is pretty pro-Japanese. 'Cause if you say anything about join the United States, boy, they, I wouldn't say they'd do anything, but remember what happened to the JACL, Sato, he got beaten up. That was done by those, well, I can't say if it was Kibeis or those guys who was anti-American, I guess.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: Well, and then eventually the military came through asking for volunteers to join.

JS: (Yes).

TI: So what did you do when they did that?

JS: It was 1943, and I don't know, I don't think too many people know about what I did. 'Cause we were 220, and when they asked for volunteers, I didn't hesitate, I just signed up, and this other guy who signed up was... (Henry) Izumizaki, your friend knew her, he was talking to you about her, he knew the Izumizakis, his nephew met...

TI: Yeah, I can't remember. That's okay.

JS: But anyway... Henry. (Yes), Henry, that's right. Henry and I were the only one from Block 220. At that time, I don't know, maybe you're too young, but there was a movie actor, Lee Tracy, from Hollywood, he was kind of... what do you call those person that helped the USO, like. And they had a party for all the guys who volunteered, (...) I came with my father. You know, funny thing, to think about it now, my father didn't question me or anything, (...) he went with me. He didn't say no pro or con about it. 'Cause usually, like Shigeno's father, he was really against it.

TI: And so were there some men who volunteered who weren't there with their father because their father didn't come?

JS: What's that?

TI: Were there some men who volunteered at this party, were there some men whose fathers did not come?

JS: That I don't know, but most of the, persons that volunteered, I think they did come. I mean, I think, I don't know how to say it, but maybe I was fortunate I didn't go because soon as Henry went over there, before we know it, he was a casualty. And I think... he had his older brother Jim, and it was Henry, then Arthur, there was (...) three brothers in the 442nd. But then they're all passed away. I mean, the other ones passed away after the war.

TI: Okay, so 1943, they asked for volunteers, you volunteered, went to this party with your father, but then the physical, what happened?

JS: Oh, I got a letter from that head of the camp, he's American, I guess, and, "Mr. Sugidono, I'm sorry to say that your medical," because of my eye, my right eye, it wasn't good enough, that they rejected me. And so that was it. They had, then it came to 1944... meanwhile, we went out to work in Nebraska. We, from our camp, there was lot of people who went. After we were working in sugar beets, and funny thing, one time, when we're ready to go home, there was a, two or three guys that were our group had appendicitis, so heck, I had to stay back with 'em until they get well. And then when we came back, that was around August, I guess, I got a letter from, from the government. [Laughs]

TI: So were you surprised that, because you failed the physical already, were you kind of surprised they drafted you?

JS: No, 'cause at that time, they were desperate, they needed replacements for 442nd. And as long as you got two hand, two leg, two eyes, they'd take you, see. At that time, when you volunteered, they wanted you to be okay.

TI: Now at this point, had you heard about what the 442 was doing? I mean, was the stories coming to you and others?

JS: Well, actually, I really didn't, 'cause we didn't get too much information. Oh, (yes), you might hear, once in a while, about some casualty and things like that, but so I didn't hear, like the Anzio, all those things, I didn't know until later. 'Cause, but then, when we got drafted, there was quite a bit from our camp, I mean, from our block. In fact, my brother was drafted same time, Ichiro. But I don't know, being a brother, I guess he was sent separate place. He went to Camp Blanding, Florida, and I went to Camp Shelby, Mississippi.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: Now, during this time, you said quite a few people were drafted out of Poston. Were there some people at this point who resisted the draft? Do you remember any of that happening?

JS: I didn't hear about it, no. But I know there was lot guys bucking for physical, you know, medical. Guys drinking shoyu to get high blood pressure.

TI: So you heard about that. Some people were doing that?

JS: (Yes), people were doing that, 'cause they didn't want to go over. And some of the guys who were doing it, they were, looked like they weren't in shape anyway. (Yes), they were Japanese, but they were no different than anybody else, guys didn't want to go, they were trying to make a way to get out. So he went to Blanding, I went to Shelby, and oh, (yes). That place there, Shelby was, it wasn't too bad, but it was hot. (Yes), what was funny was when they shortened our training, 'cause they needed replacements. I think, I don't know how much week, but we already got thirteen weeks. That was just about Christmas time, that's where the, we got our furlough, so I got furlough to go back to camp, last time. And I thought I might be able to see my brother same time. (...) I think when I went to camp, I was there first, and then I found out my brother was gonna come in that week. So I, somehow I got hold of the Camp Shelby CP, and I asked him if they could extend my furlough 'cause my brother was gonna come. (...) I didn't get an answer from them, see. Then when I was going back, I met him in Phoenix, he was coming in, and when I went back to Camp Shelby, I went to the USO, where they get together and first sergeant, he said, "Hey, Sugi, how come you're back so early?" "Why?" "We sent you an extension." [Laughs]

TI: Oh, so you missed it.

JS: I spent my whole week in the USO.

TI: So if you had received it, then you would have had a whole week with your brother.

JS: (Yes), I would have stayed with my brother for a while.

TI: Going back to camp with your uniform and everything, what was that like for you?

JS: (Yes), to tell the truth, at first, when I got from Camp Shelby and went to the bus, they still had that discrimination law. I think the colored had to go in the back. But heck, I just went in and sit anywhere I want, they didn't bother me. So that's the only thing, that's the only time I noticed anything. But I still, I saw, when I went in town, there were still places where they have water segregated, toilets segregated and things like that. So it's, it still was, you know, part of the system we had, even though those guys are in uniforms, American, colored people, they still got to go in the back. So I don't know. But as far as people there, they didn't say anything. I mean, I didn't get bad reception or anything like that.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: So now I'm going to jump you forward a little bit. You were being trained as a replacement troop for the 442. Can you tell me when you met up with the 442? When did you join the 442?

JS: Oh, (yes), that was (after) I came home from furlough, we were (...) shipped to New York, (...) another training camp there. And I think that was just about end of December or first of January. Anyway, we went to (...) New York, we went to Baltimore to train in artillery. They show us how to shoot artillery, and then later we had a little leave. And a bunch of my friend, one of my friend was from Watsonville, Tommy Kokka, well, he passed away now. We went to New York... not New York, but Washington, D.C., where they had all the Lincoln Memorial and all that, and we went (on) a pass, and they took us all around and everything. And we had, naturally, we had 442nd uniform on, and we asked how much it costs. And that (cab driver) said, saw our patch, and he said, "Oh, just forget it." I guess he knew about our outfit. So (yes), we felt good. I mean, we didn't go over yet, but he knew about the (442nd Regimental Combat Team) who came back. Then from there, we went from New York, I'm pretty sure we were on Queen Mary, that was a big liner from England, and I think we landed in Dover, (England). And from Dover, we went to France, and I think that was Marseilles, and that's where I met, went up in the hills, and met our 442nd unit. We were all spread out in the hill there.

TI: So this was southern France.

JS: (Yes), southern France. (Yes), we were (...) all scattered over there (in the mountains).

TI: So this is southern France, and this is right after the 442 had done some heavy, heavy fighting. They had liberated Bruyeres, they had rescued the "Lost Battalion," all that.

JS: (Yes), that's all, afterward.

TI: And so when you met with them at that point, what did they look like? I mean, what did you sense from them when you first saw them?

JS: Oh, I tell you, I heard... well, some didn't say it, but I heard that some of those veterans, what they hate is some of these guys like us who just come over, want to go over there and win the battle. 'Cause they're already, already (did their) fighting. (...) And they don't want to get Purple Heart or anything like that, 'cause the next one might be it. So they were really touchy. But if you're talking about you're gonna kill somebody or something like that, oh, (yes).

TI: And when you said they got touchy about that, I mean, how would they react? If one of the new guys...

JS: You could tell, they didn't like the idea, the way these, (...) the recruits, talked. They're gonna win the war or something. 'Cause what they went through, they're just lucky that they're here.

TI: And so if you, thinking back to that time, if you saw, like a new replacement and then a 442 guy who was there for a while, could you tell the difference?

JS: (Yes), you could tell. You could tell the way they dressed. There was an old-timer, heck, his shirt's all wrinkled up, this and that. It's not GI. Of course, when they're up front, you don't have to worry about those things. But when you're at the rest camp, you gotta have your tie straight, your buckles on your shoe right, everything. (Yes), they were strict on that. But (yes), when they were at the rest camp, we were on the staging area in France, they're all kind of laid back. All they did is when they got the K ration, they start drinking the beer. At that time, I was still kind of young yet, so, well, I liked beer, but then not that much, so I used to exchange my beer for candy. [Laughs] But later on, it went the other way around. I kept them 'cause I started drinking later, but at that time, heck, they gave us K ration, beer, candy, K ration, oh (yes), cigarettes. That I won't give away, 'cause that's like money.

TI: Now, did the old timers, did they ever talk about some of the fighting they went through?

JS: (No), you know, strangely, none of us said anything about that. (Yes), I mean, they talked maybe like the way I'm doing now about what their experience was, but at that time, I didn't hear anybody talk about what they went through. They didn't mention anything. (Yes), 'cause they didn't even talk about casualties, when a friend got killed or something like that, (yes). I guess it's too hard for them to say, I don't know.

TI: How about like, did they ever give you pointers or tips on how to stay alive while you were in Europe? Did they ever...

JS: No, they didn't, they didn't give you no, us any advice like that. I guess they figured, "Well, they trained you guys, you should know what to do." They didn't say nothing about how to fight or nothing like that, 'cause some guys, heck, you could tell by the stories, they didn't have to do what they did, but they did. That's how they got the Purple Heart or Silver Star or even DSC. They did something they didn't have to do. They knew if they didn't do it, that their buddy will get killed, so there's some other guys, they got something in them, they do it. (Yes), that's why.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: So when you joined, which group did you join? Which company...

JS: (...) When I was in Camp Shelby, I was in the weapon platoon. They were teaching me how to shoot a machine gun, mortar shell, mortars. But when you went over there, I still was in the weapon, I was a machine gunner. But just before we went to that last push, they pushed me into headquarter. And that's, that's right after the last push, I was in the headquarter, and me and this Frank Takahashi was in headquarter, and Shig Kizuka was in the second platoon. They were the first one on top of the hill, and like he said before, if they didn't catch 'em when they were sleeping, you wouldn't have been here, 'cause the machine gun was right there. And we came from the back, see, I don't know, maybe I was lucky anyway.

TI: And so you're talking about when, when they went up that mountain and broke the Gothic Line, you're talking about that battle. But at headquarters, what was your role? What kind of things did you do?

JS: Well, actually, I was supposed to be a jeep driver. And that's why... I'm supposed to, I sleep in the front part of the whatchacallit, the barrack, and that's where they have the, every morning, I guess it was about five or six o'clock in the morning, they have roll call. And that's where everybody's supposed to go and roll call, but I don't know why, but even right now, I can't, I have a hard time getting up. Somehow, the captain looked into my tent and I was sleeping there, "Take that name" [Laughs] And that whole week I was pulling guard on that compound.

TI: Oh, so because you overslept, you had to pull extra guard duty.

JS: (Yes), 'cause I didn't make the roll call. Every morning they do that. There was a friend of mine, he passed away, Mas Okumura, he's an original, too. He was in L Company. (Yes), he used to laugh like heck every time he sees me pulling guard.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: So what are some other memories of Europe for you? When you think about your time in Europe, what were some memories?

JS: Oh, (yes). 'Cause, see, one thing good about 442nd, they gave you a lot of time off. What do you call that, I wouldn't say vacation, what do you call that? Pass. Anyways, they gave us a whole week pass to go to Switzerland.

TI: So this is after the war's over.

JS: (Yes), after the war.

TI: So you had a week in Switzerland, and what, and that's one of your good memories?

JS: (Yes), 'cause me an another guy named Mas Takahashi, we went together and we went ice skating. And there was a young girl, Swiss girl named Heidi, and she was skating. And so we went to talk to her, and before you know it, I was skating with her, and she invited us over to her house. We went over there and they gave us some chocolate or cookies. Over there, in Switzerland, the tavern they call it, I guess, it's not like a bar over here, they had family. Kids come in, they have drink, but kids come in, too, see, so they could have coffee or tea or maybe hard liquor, too, if they want. But it was more, more like a tavern. It was more like a restaurant-like. (Yes), and they were nice people. For a while, even when I came back, they wrote a letter to me back and forth. Now I forgot about where it is.

TI: So was it because they were really appreciative of what the American soldiers had done, or what was that connection?

JS: Well, Switzerland was neutral. In fact, lot of people kind of hated Swiss people 'cause they were neutral, but they were making money, 'cause they're the ones loaning the money to Germany or whatever, sure. But then, but the people there are really, really what you call, nice people. They're the first, in Switzerland, the people all talk the old language by the border. If you're in Italy, they talk more... in French, Switzerland and Germany or Austria, any other countries that touched, they talked their language. So I don't know if Switzerland is... well, it's supposed to be a neutral country, though.

TI: So any other memories of Europe?

JS: (Yes), after the war, we had a lot of places like Lake Lecco, that was a nice resort place. I got a lot of pictures of that place. It's, it's nice lake, and that's where we have a rest, where we rested. And that's where a lot of my friends that I still know, that Nihei, he lives in San Francisco now, he was in the same company as I was, L Company, so... (yes), there's not too many left. Shig was the other one, he was L Company, too. Naturally, the guy who was, is the daughter who made a picture about her father?

TI: Oh, Hamamura?

JS: (Yes), he's still living, but he's on a wheelchair. I think he had, he was diabetic, so they had to take his leg off. Oh, he's tall. Because when he got wounded, I wasn't there, but I heard that, oh, they had to have about four or five guys carry him down. [Laughs] He's over six foot, you know. Oh, boy.

TI: So after Europe you came back to the United States.

JS: (Yes).

TI: And you were, where were you discharged?

JS: Oh, I was discharged at Camp Beale, that's by Sacramento, I think. And I was discharged in '46. Well, actually, that's when my discharge would be over, see, but I, but I still was in the army yet until '46, even though I came home.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: So Jiro, we're gonna now start the third hour, and we've just finished covering sort of the, your time in Europe. And where we left it was 1946, and you were being discharged, and now you're returning to Watsonville. So why don't you, why don't you pick up the story there. So what was it like when you returned to Watsonville?

JS: Well, you know, I don't know. Maybe I'm simple, but I didn't find no discrimination or anything like that, 'cause nobody said anything derogative or anything to me. And, but you know, my mother, as soon as I came home, she's one of those Issei that always want to make sure that you're working. So she got job, job for me right away, at the Hiura drier, apple drier.

TI: It's Hiura? What was name again?

JS: Hiura, Hiura.

TI: Hiura, okay.

JS: Hiura. It's that apple drier, and they don't operate that no more, but anyway, that's where most of the Japanese was working.

TI: Now, when you say "apple drier," so they would take apples, they would slice them up?

JS: They'd cut it up.

TI: And then just dry them?

JS: And then they'd put it in a net, you know, like a net, and they'd put it in sulfur, and I guess they'd cook it or dry it that way.

TI: And then once it's dried, then they would...

JS: They would sell it to the army or whatever.

TI: I see. And so how big an operation was this? How many people were working there?

JS: Oh, there was a lot. There was, I don't know how many peeler there was, there's a bunch of peeler, maybe ten, fifteen peeler, and there was a lady that cut the bad part off, and there's... my work was to, after they put it on the tray, to lift it up and put it on the whatchacallit, place where they could put it, where they could put it in the roller. [Laughs] I, at first, I couldn't get used to it when they go up on top, I don't know how many tray I dropped. You know, you got to get that knack of it, to take it up and push it in. And sometimes, if you don't do it right, you just drop the whole works.

TI: So you had to be pretty strong to do this, was it heavy?

JS: Oh, (yes). (Yes), well, it got so that as you go higher, it gets heavier.

TI: And so about how many people would, would work at the...

JS: Oh, heck, I think there was, seemed like the whole Watsonville Japanese, they were doing quite a bit. Gee, I guess there was more than twenty, thirty people, maybe more. (Yes), 'cause they had some guys working on the upstairs, and there were people working on downstairs. It was an old drier made of wood, so... and I guess it wasn't worth it to open a drier, 'cause they moved to [inaudible], but after that, they just, they quit. I think another country took over, they got cheaper labor, you know.

TI: Now, if this job wasn't available, what else did people do?

JS: Oh, (yes), later on I went, that was '46, later I started working out in the field. (Yes), I was still young yet, and so I worked with, what do you call it, Bill Hirano, and he, he was a 442nd, too, he was kind of like a contractor, so he had a bunch of Japanese, lot of younger people and some older people, he contracted with the hakujin guys on this, thinning lettuce and things like that. So heck, we used to have race to see how, how fast we could go, thinning lettuce. I made a mistake, now I found out my back hurts quite a bit now. (Yes), when you're young you do a lot of foolish things.

TI: So lots of different types of jobs coming back.

JS: And then, later on, I liked to work outside, so they said there was an opening in Saveria. It's like a strawberry, bushberry canning place, and they want a foreman for raspberries. I didn't know nothing about it, but I just said I was willing to work, so, "Okay, you're hired." So I went to Morgan Hill, and for one year I went to work over there and didn't make any money. So later I came back to work at a place near Watsonville, and they're finally, one of the foremen, the Japanese foremen said they, guys want to, looking for a Japanese guy, whatchacall, that does insecticide. So I went over there, and that was John Ura, he hired me as a field man there. I think it was run by Shimizu of San Jose, they have a strawberry crate, thing, they used to have crate, wooden crate that time. Now they got paper, see, that they used to sell insecticide, your fertilizer and everything. I went, worked there for a while, and then finally in '46, I met my wife, and we was gonna get married. My father, he got kind of worried and says -- 'cause I was working day wages, said that he didn't think I could make a living that way. So he told -- he didn't tell me, but he told John Ura to tell me if I wanted to go partner in strawberry. So I said, "Okay, I will," so I was a sharecropper for them, and that was a bad year. It was 1958, and...

TI: Was that 1948 or...

JS: '58.

TI: '58, okay.

JS: And the... freezer was so cheap, it was only eight cents a pound, couldn't even make a -- 'cause when the time to give me my half, it wasn't enough, his half, he gave me, still didn't make any. So finally, I just, I don't know, I still stuck it out and went on my own in 1959. And I did, I did good enough to raise my family, you know, but they didn't make any money.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

JS: So finally, in 1970, I figured, well, heck -- oh, before I jump that far, I got married in (1956)... oh, 1956. 'Cause I know I'm on fifty-(two) years now, is that right?

TI: Uh-huh, that'd be fifty-two years.

JS: Okay. That was, I remember 'cause it was Lincoln's birthday, and I got, no kids right away, but it took me two years. I thought there was something wrong, so I had to see the doctor, but they said no, it was. And so finally two years after that, I just got one in (1958), one in ('59).

TI: You mean 1958?

JS: ('58).

TI: No, you mean your first child. You were married in...

JS: Oh, '58, (yes), '58, that's right.

TI: Yeah, you were married in 1956.

JS: And '59, and then three years apart, my daughter came in '62, and then three years after that, my son, youngest one came in '65. And they're all doing good, 'cause my oldest boy's in Hawaii now, Maui, Hawaii, and he got two boys. And my second son, (Steven), he's not married, he's in Capitola, and my third child is Lori, and she was born in '62, she's got two child, boy (Charles) and a girl (Chelsea). And my youngest (Ronald), born in '65, he's got one child, a girl (Rachael). So I got five grandchildren.

TI: So let me, let me summarize this. So you had four children, your son, oldest one was Doug, second one was Steven, and then third was Lori, and then Ronald was the fourth?

JS: Fourth, (yes).

TI: And then you have five grandchildren, Doug has Matthew and Christopher, and Lori has Chelsea and Charles, and then Ronald has Rachael.

JS: That's right.

TI: Okay, so that's a nice family, nice size family.

JS: (Yes), they're all hakujin. [Laughs]

TI: You mean hapa?

JS: (Yes), you could call the kids hapa. 'Cause my... well, see, Doug's wife is, (...) grandma was Portuguese and grandfather was a Japanese. So I don't know what, that's one-eighth.

TI: Yeah, I don't know.

JS: So they did, then my daughter's married to a hakujin, and my youngest son is married to a hakujin, so they're hapa, I guess.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

TI: Going back to your wife, how did you meet your wife?

JS: Well, it was, she was young yet, 'cause when we got married, she was nineteen. Well, anyway, she goes to the same church I go, and the Japanese Presbyterian, Westview, and I happened to go to one of those Christmas play, and my wife was Mary, and then a friend of ours was Joseph. And I (...) saw her acting and I thought, "She's a pretty woman." So I don't know, I didn't, I didn't have the courage to talk to her, so I usually go to a place where all the Japanese hang out, they call it Cue Ball. I had a little bit of beer, and so I finally called her up and asked for a date. And then I think she knew where I was calling from, you could hear the cue ball and everything clinking away, (yes). At first, I don't know, 'cause I was much older than she was. I was at least twelve year difference. So for a while I went around with her, and I just stopped seeing her for a while. But I guess I just, I just couldn't so I went back and then we got married.

TI: Oh, that's a good story.

TI: So let me make sure, so you met her at a, at church, and she was in a play, you said? And she was playing Mary in the play?

JS: Mary, (yes).

TI: And then, and then you got the courage in a bar to call her with some beer, and then...

JS: That's the bad part.

TI: No, I think it's, it's a good story.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

TI: I wanted to ask you, going back to when you first came back to Watsonville, how had Watsonville changed? When you look at the streets, the stores, had Watsonville changed after the war from before the war?

JS: Well, I guess it did, slowly. 'Cause there's lot of building that was there before we went to camp. When I come back, they start breaking it down. I thought it looks good yet, I don't know why, but I guess in order to build something, what they want, they have to break it down. And Watsonville had, oh, they had quite a bit theaters, but little by little they all disappeared. Same thing as the grocery store, they had a lot of grocery store. In fact, they had, one time, they had, right in Main Street, they had a blacksmith, but they don't have that no more. Well, naturally, they don't need that anyway, they don't use horses that much like they used to, see.

TI: Well, how about, like, lower Main Street? How did that change? Because that was heavily Japanese before the war. And what happened after the war?

JS: (Yes), it changed quite a bit. 'Cause after the war, half of the business, the Japanese didn't take over. Or I remember only guy who came back after the war was Ben Torigori, he had a sporting shop, and there was the Enomoto, later on he had a shoe shop. But he, at that time, he had a, like a small store. And they had, Yamaguchi, they had a grocery store, too, and then they, they had other people like Morimune had tofu-ya, Aramaki tofu-ya. So they still had, you know, lot of Japanese. But pool hall was gone, and, but then another Japanese, Kokka, they had, still had the pool hall on his own, he had an ice cream place. And there was a Japanese dry cleaning, it was Matsuoka and Ide, they did dry cleaning. (Yes), but it changed, 'cause little by little, the Chinese took over, they had more Chinese restaurant, and now, later on, the Latinos came over and took over a lot of drinking, bars and this and that. That's where they have, for a while they had a lot of trouble with fighting, this and that. So they cut it down quite a bit.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

TI: And how about your father's business? How did that, what happened to that after the war?

JS: Well, see, he was, after the war, he was on First Street, and see, what happened after the war, he came back, I guess it was in '45, I think. I think it was '45, he came back, but he's diabetic, see, and me and my brother was in the army yet. And my sister told me that, said he came back, he went to County Hospital, (...) the State Highway Patrol took him. 'Cause at that time, we had County Hospital, they took him there. And I don't know how long he lasted, but he died there.

TI: Oh, so in '45?

JS: I think it was in '45, (yes).

TI: Okay, so you were still in Europe.

JS: In the army. And I got the notice from the Red Cross, but they wouldn't let me come home, but they let my brother come home. But by the time he came home, the funeral was over. So when I came home after my brother came home, I came home after that. 'Cause at that time, when you want to come home from the 442nd, you had to have enough points, see. I didn't have enough points, so the guys who had enough points, they're the ones who marched in New York. I think it was in June or July someplace, that's where the, President Truman did something for them. Anyway, see, that's where -- 'cause 442nd, the main veterans went home, and we were moved to Fogglia, southern Italy. We stayed until we got discharged. (...) I told my sister that I was kind of resentful, 'cause (...) I wasn't able to come home. I guess they just had the one son come home. And it was the same, another guy, Mas Nitta, he came later, he stayed with me, and he was a replacement, but the war was over and he, Red Cross told him his brother died in the army. Gee, he went home right away.

TI: Yeah, it doesn't seem fair.

JS: So... it would have been late anyways, he passed away.

TI: But then your brother, when he returned to Watsonville, he took over the, the shop?

JS: Well, not right away. 'Cause he didn't know he'd have to open it. So what he did is I think I was in the army yet, but I think he rented that shop to another, his former partner, Yamada and Kobayashi. They rented it, see, and then my brother, he came home from the army, and then he went to L.A. to mechanic school, they call it National. It's a big school, they teach mechanics and radio and TV. Then when he finished, he came back and him and Hamada became partners. So they'd been there together until Mr. Hamada passed away, and then my brother got his two sons to take over, so they're running it now, so my brother retired. (Yes), so like my brother, he should be interviewed, but he won't. 'Cause I told him, he knows quite a bit, too, 'cause he was wounded in the army, he had Purple Heart and he had Bronze Star, and he made staff sergeant. He was in the 100th, I think C Company. It's hard to get him.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

TI: Well, that's, that's the end of my questions. I mean, is there anything else that I, that I didn't ask you about that you'd like to talk about?

JS: Oh (yes). About my mother, she being an Issei, but in 1950, I don't know what year it was, anyway, I don't know, I didn't tell her anything, but she wanted to become an American citizen. And at that time, to become an American citizen, you got to learn that in English. And so being that she knows a little broken English, so the English she's supposed to know, she put kana, Japanese kana on it. And if said, fi, she put a Japanese "fi shi," something like that, see. And that's how, she passed her citizenship.

TI: And so how did that make you feel when you saw your mother...

JS: Oh, you know, nobody told her to do it, she did it. 'Cause a lot of guys who stay here, and she didn't want to go back to Japan anyway, 'cause she went couple times to Japan, what she saw, I guess, she'd rather stay here. 'Cause she lived in the country, and still they had the old things. So she said, oh, she's not going to go back. Maybe visit, but not to live there.

TI: And so when she got her citizenship, did the family have a party for her or anything like that?

JS: See, that I don't know. I don't know. In fact, she had everything in a box someplace, she had everything written up, 'cause she told that to my wife, but we can't find it. Of course, at that time, my brother, the old house, he moved to another house, so I don't know what happened. He lost it or he threw it away.

TI: Well, that's great that she, she did...

JS: She had a lot of history about, from Japan, you know. She's the one who told my wife about her coming to the United States. But later on, she regretted. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, because it was too hard to --

JS: Lot of those Issei, you saw the tape, they complain that they come over and they found that her husband is an old man or something. [Laughs]

TI: Yeah, that's good. Well, Jiro, thank you so much for the interview. This was, this was excellent in terms of what I learned today.

JS: I hope it's, that was all right.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright ©2008 Densho and the Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL. All Rights Reserved.