Densho Digital Archive
Watsonville - Santa Cruz JACL Collection
Title: Shoichi Kobara Interview
Narrator: Shoichi Kobara
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Watsonville, California
Date: November 18, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-kshoichi-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: So Sho, we're going to start, now, the second hour of your interview. But before we start at Poston, I just want to ask you a little bit about the various nicknames you've had in your life. One you mentioned earlier was "Crowbar."

SK: Yeah, because they couldn't pronounce Kobara, so they, a couple of guys started me Crowbar. When we were going to high school and all that, they always called me Crowbar.

TI: And so were these like other Japanese that --

SK: No, no. Hakujin.

TI: Okay. And would that, would that kind of stick so lots of people called you Crowbar, or just a few people?

SK: The Japanese, most of 'em called me Sho, Sho. Because even when I was going to grammar school with the Natividad, right next to the school was a family called Alvitra. He was a sheriff, father was a sheriff, two brothers were going to school. And when we go in high school, Alvin Brazil, his father was a deputy district attorney, we always got along good. When we were going Japanese school, there was two hakujin started coming toward, when I was about junior. Marvin Hogan and Blandi, Blandi. And Marvin Hogan, after the war started, I heard he went in and became FBI, because he came to Japanese school to learn Japanese.

TI: So it sounds like there was a pretty good relations amongst the different races.

SK: Yeah, and like I said, mostly it was white. But funny thing is, when we were in Salinas, when I was about, I guess maybe freshman or around there, people from Oklahoma came, moved to Salinas, and they called it Steinbeck story, the guy that wrote the Grapes of Wrath. And they kind of assembled in Prunedale and Alisal area. And I couldn't tell the difference. They called 'em Okies, but they said that they were from Oklahoma where there's Indian blood mixed into them. That's why the white people were, Portuguese or Italians, they kind of looked down on them and called them "Okies, Okies." I used to say, "Hey, they look just like you, they don't look any different." But they were discriminating against people from Oklahoma.

TI: Well, and I'm thinking about the people you grew up with, these different races. Did it change quite a bit after Pearl Harbor? I mean, did they start treating you differently?

SK: We didn't stay there that long. The only thing I -- because the year before, I graduated from high school. And lot of those white people around Salinas, they joined the National Guard and tank corps. So that's what I heard after the war, but then they were transferred to Washington or something. And then when the war started, they were shipped to Philippines, and lot of 'em got killed. So they were kind of hard feeling against Japanese. So I only went back couple of reunion in high school, but it wasn't, they didn't say anything bad about us or anything, but it wasn't a good feeling because a lot of 'em got killed, as classmates.

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