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-01-0018

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: Well, when you were in Poston, I guess one of the things that happened that was unfortunate was that your father got sick. So can you talk about that? What happened to your father?

SK: Well, I guess from stress and the disappointment and everything, he developed cancer, cancer of the rectum. So my father knew the Japanese, I forgot his name, doctor that was in Salinas, he evacuated to Chicago. So he wrote to them, him and asked him, "What do you do?" And he said, well, "If you come over to Chicago, I'd operate on you." So he, we made application to the camp to get out, but he never could get the okay to go. He got worse and worse, so finally the camp, I mean, they said, "We'll send you to Phoenix, Arizona," and have the operation done there at St. Joseph's hospital. We stayed there almost a month. But they treated me real nice over there. The nurses and...

TI: And so you went there with your father?

SK: Yeah, I stayed 'til the... and I brought him back to camp. And my sister and my wife -- we weren't married then -- but they came to visit. 'Cause we stayed there about a month.

TI: And what kind of, so they operated, and what other kind of treatment did they give him?

SK: They had to cut the whole bottom out. Then he had to have a bag there for his bowel movement. So they took... I bet it took over a year -- by the time they closed the camp and everything, he came back to Monterey. But it took a long time to heal because they took the whole inside out, and bowel movement was on the side. But by that time, I was in the army already, so I couldn't help. I think my mother took care of him.

TI: Okay, so let me make sure I understand all this. So your father was in Poston, so he was operated in Phoenix. But you also talked about going to Utah at one point.

SK: Yeah. And when he came back, came back from the hospital, and I thought I'd go to my mother's uncle's place in Utah and work there. Because we didn't have a cooler there, in the camp. So I thought I'll earn enough money to send a cooler in. Each one had to order their own, I guess, if they wanted it. Some people had it, some people didn't. Lot of people didn't have it.

TI: So when you say "cooler," like a refrigerator?

SK: No, it's a fan with the water running, and they hang that outside and blow it in.

TI: Because Poston was just so hot.

SK: Yeah.

TI: And so you wanted to go outside to make more money so you can buy a cooler for the, the camp.

SK: And then when I went to Utah, over there was too rationed: alcohol and then meat and whatever it is. You had coupons, we could only buy so much. Well, I knew my father wanted, liked to drink. I got that idea that, you know, you can't send alcohol into the Indian reservation. So I got a vinegar bottle, emptied it out, washed it, and put the... what do you call that, whiskey in, and sealed it up. And put canned peaches and a few other canned goods, made a thing, and shipped it in. They say you're not supposed to do that, you can't send -- but I figured my father was going to die anyhow, and he liked alcohol. 'Cause they used to make some in camp. They used to get raisins and stuff, I knew they were doing it, different families doing it.

TI: So you were able to smuggle in whiskey to your dad.

SK: Yeah, every month I used to --

TI: When he was at Poston, he was back at Poston?

SK: Yeah.

TI: And you got this up in Utah? You were able to get this in Utah and send it down to him.

SK: Yeah.

TI: You mentioned your dad liking to drink. Before the war started, would he have friends that would come over, or he'd go someplace and drink with them?

SK: More or less, he drank at home. He never went out bars, I never, ever saw him. But he always used to like sake or wine. I remember helping make beer, too. There used to be a formula you buy to make beers, and I used to help him bottle that.

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