Densho Digital Repository
Katsugo Miho Collection
Title: Katsugo Miho Interview II
Narrator: Katsugo Miho
Interviewers: Michiko Kodama Nishimoto
(primary), Warren Nishimoto (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: February 9, 2006
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1022-2

<Begin Segment 1>

MN: Okay. This is an interview with Mr. Katsugo Miho, session two, February 9, 2006. The interviewers are Michiko Kodama Nishimoto and Warren Nishimoto. So Kats, we're going to continue by doing a little bit of follow up on session one. And first of all, having so many children in your family, what was your father's role in terms of child rearing in the family?

KM: Well, being the youngest in a family of eight, I don't have a good memory in that regard. Because, number one, you had a language barrier, first of all. My eldest sisters, both Tsukie and Fumiye, was very much involved in looking after the younger siblings, especially myself and my brother above me. But even my brother above me was three years older than I was. And the one above him was also three years older. So between me and my two older brothers, Katsuaki, there was a three-year difference, and between myself and Paul there was a six-year difference. So being the youngest itself was another factor, but the age difference between my older brothers was far apart.

MN: And how much of an age difference was there between yourself and your two older sisters?

KM: Fumiye was two years older than Paul, so she's eight years older than I. And Katsuro was ten years older than I was, and Tsukie was twelve years older than I was. So being the youngest, there's vast difference in age.

MN: And what was your mother's role?

KM: My mother was very much, as far as I know, she was always busy. Because most of my recollection is during the years when we were running the hotel and she was the full-time cook. Not only did she do the cooking, although she had one or two helpers. There was one live-in housekeeper and then there was another neighbor... not neighbor, another helper who helped in the kitchen doing the cooking. So basically there were three people doing the cooking, housekeeping.

My dad was more or less involved with the front end of the hotel, which was the store. As I said last time, we had a hat store for a little while, so he was involved with that. And then he was involved with so many other community activities. When I first got a driver�s license, when I was fifteen, my job was to take him around and pick him up from all kinds of different functions that he was involved in, community affairs.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

MN: What kind of functions or community affairs was your dad involved in?

KM: Basically Japanese school, Board of Education type activities. And besides that, he was, as I said early on, a volunteer worker for the consul general in Honolulu and one of his jobs was to keep in touch with the Japanese community. And those days it required the recordation of birth if you wanted your child to be recorded into the Japanese family record. And he was one of those who assisted the Japanese people in this regard. My task was to drive him around, after I got my license, picking him up and going to functions and later on picking him up from the place.

MN: You know, in those days, who were some of the other Japanese men who were active in the Japanese community like your father?

KM: Basically the townspeople like Mr. Onishi of the Onishi store. Mr. Kinoshita of the Kinoshita mercantile company, father and son combination of the Kobayashi store. And the Kobayashi store, later on, after internment, after the war, the Kobayashis were interned. The family, in the case of Kobayashi, the whole family went to one of the, Jerome, I think, with the Hawaiian group. And there they picked up the business of potato chips, and they're the ones that became the Maui potato chip manufacturers. Until today, I think they still have the family franchise because the eldest grandson of elder Kobayashi, he died early, about three or four years ago he died. I don't know what happened to the franchise, but they're the ones that developed Maui potato chips.

MN: So you had your father, Mr. Onishi, Mr. Kinoshita...

KM: Mr. Toda, who was the leading philanthropist and financial, whatchacall... he was more or less the leader of the Kahului group in more ways than just being financially the pharmacy. He spoke English and his pharmacy was the pharmacy of Maui at that time, because he supplied all the drugs and that paraphernalia to Kula Sanitarium. And Kula Sanitarium was this big, big hospital in Maui. Besides, the plantation had a Puunene plantation hospital. I don't know if Lahaina had any hospital. The big hospital in Maui was the Kula sanitarium.

MN: You know, you just mentioned that Mr. Toda spoke English.

KM: He spoke English. That's why his name was Robert Toda.

MN: Was he Issei or Nisei?

KM: First generation, first generation.

MN: Would you know if he was American-educated or Japan-educated?

KM: I don't know his background. All I know is we were next door neighbors for many, many years.

MN: And you know, you called him the leader and also a philanthropist.

KM: I understood that he was considered the wealthy member of the Kahului merchant group. And so many of the functions and whatnot, he was basically the, not the financier but in charge of the financial aspect as I understand it. So you had Bon Odori, then you had all kinds of Japanese festivals, this and that. Somehow he was always involved. Together, not only with the merchant family and group, but with the camp, we always had some of the persons representing the camp. And I think the camp group basically was represented by Mr. Sado, who was a newspaper representative for Hawaii Hochi or Nippu Jiji at that time. And he lived in the camp, and so he more or less, although he was a newspaperman, he kind of represented the camp group. And he was an ex-sumotori from Japan, I think. Not, I don't know if he's professional, but he was the so-called man that I related, connected with my background of Japanese sumo. And he was one of the leaders, not only in Maui, but Maui was one of the leading participant of Japanese sumo before the war. So they had statewide tournaments, sumo tournaments in Maui. And he was always in charge. Sumo was very prevalent before the war. As I said, earlier I think, we had rankings. There was a grand champion and ozeki and all these different levels of sumotori in Hawaii, and they used to have state tournaments in Kahului, I remember.

MN: You were mentioning that Mr. Toda would, I guess, support the financial backing of activities in the Japanese community.

KM: Community of Maui.

MN: What kind of activities were there in the Japanese community? You mentioned Obon, sumotori tournaments?

KM: All of the community activities involved the celebration of the emperor's birthday, Boy's Day celebration, Girl's Day celebration, within community of Kahului or within the island of Maui. And things, sometimes you had an island-wide affair. And then most of the time it's maybe just limited to Kahului. Basic city or town was Kahului. Wailuku, which was the center of the county government, and then you had Lahaina which was so far away, on the part of the island that was a separate town by itself. And Paia was a smaller town, but still that's considered a town. And so, so-called towns were Lahaina, Wailuku, Kahului, Paia. I guess those were the so-called places called towns. Not cities, but towns.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

MN: As someone who grew up in Kahului, how, in terms of identity, what did it mean to be like a town person versus a camp person? What made you a town person, what made someone a camp person?

KM: A camp person, because basically they were tied in with the stevedoring, as the family, the parents were connected as stevedoring or as the trucking industry of Kahului, which gradually grew bigger and bigger. In the beginning, it was railroad. The railroad and then you had stevedoring, which was the bulk of them, and you had so-called townspeople who were connected with the retailing store aspect. You have barbershops, you have a jewelry shop, you had a grocery store, you had a garage. We had a couple of garages. Kahului Kimizuka Garage and Standard Garage, I think, were the two main service stations in Kahului. As compared to those whose livelihood depending on being, working for the railroad, either as trucking railroad or stevedoring, and most of the people who were connected with stevedoring lived in the camps.

MN: You know, like you mentioned Mr. Toda, Robert Toda, as a pharmacist. In those days, were there Japanese professionals, not store owners or merchants, but were there Japanese in, like, the professions?

KM: The what?

MN: Were there Japanese in the professions in those days, like doctors?

KM: Well, I'm trying to recall who was the first doctor or physician in Maui of non-Caucasian background. Because the doctor, like my family doctor, was taking, we used to go to the Puunene plantation hospital doctor. Until... I'm trying to recall, who was the first doctor. I think Dr. Izumi was the first, and he's second generation. I think Homer Izumi, if you remember, was one of Dr., but his brother and Homer, I think, started doctoring in Maui.

MN: So in those days, when you look back, you remember the camp people and the town people and the town people being more in the retail and service industry.

KM: That's right, the town people were retailing and the camp people were [inaudible] to stevedoring.

MN: And then in terms of status, what was the status situation like in the Japanese community?

KM: You had a subtle... I don't remember it being distinct now, but when you reflect back on it, there was a subtle difference between camp and town. Townsmen and camp... Japanese community, I hate to say this, but I think there were subtle discriminations within the Japanese society. Number one, I did not feel this or know about this growing up in Maui. I don't think we had this difference between what we called Naichi Japanese and Okinawan prefectural people. Because the Okinawan community in Maui was big. They had a lot of Okinawans in Maui in the plantation. I don't know if it's because of my family or my parents, but I never was brought up with the feeling of looking down upon the Okinawan people. And I think this is due to my parents who were both very liberal-minded, looking back, from the cultural aspect. Well, also, for many years, while growing up, I never knew there was a Jewish religion or Jewish people. I always thought of it as an adjective. This is true. And until I graduated and saw what I saw in Dachau, I did not realize the significance of the Jewish people, or the existence of the Jewish people. And when I decided to go to law school, I was further indoctrinated into the so-called anti-Semitism that prevailed in the U.S. at that point of history.

MN: You know, I guess on Maui you weren't aware of Jewish people or anti-Semitism, and you're saying that in your family, at least, you didn't feel too much of the Naichi prejudices against the Okinawans.

KM: Remind me of what my father's role in that, but basically, in the cultural upbringing at that time was white against non-white. The whole community was based on whether you were a hakujin or haole or non-haole. Non-haole being everybody else was put in the one category of non-haole. And even economic-wise, all white-collar jobs, that's where I think, in Hawaii, we had the differentiation and distinct meaning of white-collar jobs. White-collar jobs were those jobs available to only the Caucasian group. Plantation, office, secretarial jobs and on up were strictly Caucasian. And there was a breaking of that barrier by my generation because there was one Nisei who was one of the elder Nisei who rose to be... in fact, office manager of the Kahului Railroad. I forgot his name. But my very good friend, just like my brother, George Kondo, quit school, high school, in his senior year because his father passed away. And at that early age he started to work as an office boy at the Kahului Railroad. Started as an office boy. He ended up as being the office manager. So the line was breached within my generation that I can remember. George rose from office boy to become the office manager of Kahului Railroad before he died, all within that one generation. But as I said, in those days, it was the friendship between. Socially, it was white or nonwhite.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

MN: How about relations of, say, Japanese...

KM: Within the nonwhite?

MN: Uh-huh. Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino?

KM: In Kahului, the bulk of the camp people was AJAs. And then you had, immediately behind my house was the Filipino camp. And alongside the Filipino camp was a small group of... there, as far as I was concerned, there were, within the haole category, but they happened to be Portuguese and Spanish, but they were not considered the white color category, so they lived within the camp. There was a small, small group of these people alongside the Filipino camp, and the bulk of it was the AJA camp.

WN: And the stevedores were mostly AJA?

KM: Mostly AJA, a sprinkling of Filipinos. The Filipino immigration came in right after World War II. Before that, it was a very small working force. In fact, even in the plantations, the Filipinos were a minority of the plantation workers. To the extent that when I was growing up and working in the cane fields in my, I think the last three years that I worked in the cane fields, the last year that I worked the cane fields, I had to cut cane. Cut cane meaning you go in there and harvest the cane that was burnt. This was really an adult job, but that was the year of the Filipino strike, Filipino group that struck, and the non-Filipino group continued working. And the high school level kids were all, even from Kahului, we were gathered to work in the cane fields, and we would work on the job that normally was done by the Filipinos and the regular Japanese. But because there was a shortage, the fourteen year olds and fifteen year olds were all inducted into working in the cane fields. That when we were working, we had armed guards around us to protect us, just in case any kind of happenings would occur while we were working.

WN: So this is '37, yeah?

KM: No, I think this was... yeah, 1937, '38, Puunene, '37 and '38.

MN: You know, at that age, were you aware that you were being a strikebreaker?

KM: Absolutely not. [Laughs] We were wondering what was going on. Although, I would say this, the only place where these Filipino workers would gather for their meetings was on one of our playgrounds in Kahului. They used to have the, because were not plantation, but I remember that they were allowed to gather in one of our baseball fields right across from the Japanese school. They had a couple of rallies in Kahului that I observed while being a strikebreaker.


MN: Well, getting back to that experience, when you young boys were recruited to work in the fields during the strike, was that voluntary or how was that arranged?

KM: Well, prior to that, for two years, I had been working in the cane fields. The very beginning was just cutting weeds. At that time I recall if I earned one dollar for that day, it was a big deal. So we were cutting weeds and cutting weeds which determined, your pay was determined by the number of feet that you worked, getting rid of the weeds. They would measure, you know, this and there you worked, and then you would be paid accordingly. One dollar was more or less the goal for the day, basically pay for the lunch, you know, lunch is probably about five-thirty, made it at home, but we brought ours, home lunch. You get up at two, three o'clock in the morning, then get to work. Then by two o'clock you were finished and you were home. If you made one dollar out of this, what we call contract, it was contract by the individual worker. And some of my classmates were harder workers than I was. I was more or less going out there for a fling, because everybody else was going, and I had to, my parents said, "You got to go, too."

WN: When you say contractor, you were paid by the plantation or you were paid by some individual?

KM: No, by the plantation. Contract means you weren't being paid by the hour. Contract was depending on piecemeal... instead of piecemeal, making so many items, it was how many yards of weeds that you cleaned.

WN: What kind of worker were you?

KM: I enjoyed my working because this was the summertime, and we had more fun playing than actually working.

WN: Did you actually weed it or did you just cover the weeds with dirt?

KM: No, no, we actually did cut, we actually did cut. It was quite obvious that the luna can always tell whether you did your job or not. But the girls were always working with us. It was not only boys, it was boys and girls. And I think some of the girls worked harder than we did. Like everything else, the girls worked a little bit harder, my recollection. [Laughs] They were more sincere and more earnest than we were.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

MN: So first year, when you worked in the fields, you weeded, ho hana.

KM: Ho hana, they called it.

MN: Second year, what did you do?

KM: What do we call... pulapula. Pulapula was to cut the top of the cane stalks. I think the stalks were used for planting. And we did the clearing of the ditches and what else? We didn't do planting. And a little bit of what we used to call hapai ko. You know what the terminology is, hapai ko? That was after the canes were cut, you had to haul these canes into the transporting baggage trains. You would have to pick it up from the fields and then you carried 'em, hapai. Ko means taking it over into this cane loading trucks, and that was a very, very hard, dirty, tedious job. But at age thirteen, fourteen, we were doing that kind of a job.

MN: How much did you get paid that year?

KM:� I forgot what it was. That was by the hour. That was by the hour because you couldn't do it by... although, as I understand it, in the plantations, those jobs were done by families, certain families.� Families would be allowed to have a family work on a train load and it was their family income. So if you had more kids to help you out in the plantations, this was the incentive to have more kids in the plantations.

MN: And since we're talking about your work as a teenager on the sugar plantation, you said something like, you know, everybody went, or the group went. I'm just wondering, why did you go plantation work?

KM: Because the young people of my Kahului town, it wasn't differentiating between camp or town, it was the younger people, all. And as a group we were not differentiating between camp, Kahului was Kahului, involving town kids as well as camp kids. Did not differentiate between the two.

MN: And� you mentioned, like, your parents said, told you to go. What was expected of the children in the family when it came to bringing in money or helping with family support? What was expected of you folks?

KM: There were no expectations on my level or my family consideration because it was more of a support of a community effort. The plantation needed workers. The plantation families, in and of itself, was not enough. So the call was made out to get this cheap labor, which was because we were thirteen years old, I think, twelve or thirteen. Nowadays, you have the minimum working age, but at twelve or thirteen we started to go out to work because they needed the help to do the job. Because for the adults, it was too menial. For the adults it was, I guess, a waste of labor for their kind of work to do that basic job that needed to be done.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

MN: And then going back to the adults like your mother, you were saying in the hotel she did the cooking. And I was wondering, did she ever do any teaching since your father --

KM: There were lots of other activities besides that. My mother was involved in a lot of other activities. I don't have the pictures or anything but I have... unfortunately, I cannot tell you whether it was teaching floral arrangement, or whether it was dressmaking, or whether it was handicraft, but she did a lot of that. We have, unfortunately, we do have some pictures, but there were no notations. I remember on Maui there were a lot of times visiting teachers from Japan or from Honolulu who would come and teach and then invariably it would be coordinated by my mother or my father. But usually my mother worked for these dressmaking or flower arrangement. There was no tea ceremony teacher or flower arrangement teacher full-time. This was basically done on a part-time basis and on a more or less piecemeal basis of when a certain occasion arise and you have a gathering, and then invariably my mother would be involved one way or the other.

MN: And if she were teaching dressmaking, is that yofuku, western dressmaking or Japanese?

KM: It was mostly western. These were mostly western things, except for the flower arrangement, and tea ceremony type things like that.

MN: And in those days, I don't know if you have the answer, but who would she teach these Japanese skills to?

KM: Mostly wives of the, from the community of Kahului, which is made up of ladies from the camp and ladies from the town.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

MN: And your parents came from Hiroshima-ken. In terms of their relationships with the Japanese community, was it just with Hiroshima-ken people or with all kinds of...

KM: Oh, everybody. Although in Maui, I think Hiroshima Kenjinkai was a big organization. Today, I think Hilo has a bigger, more active kenjinkai than Honolulu. Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjinkai, one of the bigger ones, but their basic activity was only their annual dinner and a picnic and their activities.

MN: In your dad's and mom's time, what did the Hiroshima Kenjinkai do?

KM: One of the primary functions in that generation was to get involved with funerals. Even for many years after World War II in Honolulu, if you remember the Hiroshima Kenjinkai, the kenjinkai people basically handled the funeral arrangements for, especially the first generation people. That was one of the primary functions of the kenjinkai. Not only gathering and picnics or annual dinner, but it was very much involved in the funeral arrangements. That was the primary role of the kenjinkai. The first-generation people especially was strong ties with the people who came from. So Hiroshima Kenjinkai in Honolulu after World War II, you had a very strong. And then you had, within the Hiroshima, you had subgroups like I used to belong to the Fujisaki group, which was my suburbs in Hiroshima. There were five suburbs in Hiroshima where most of the Hiroshima immigrants came from. This was, they call it Nihonmachi like the area of Waikiki, and then within the Waikiki you had Homura, you had Ooko, Danna, Fujisaki, Hyuna. So these five different subgroups also had a sub-kenjinkai and I used to be active in the Fujisaki Kenjinkai.

MN: And what other organizations were your mom or dad involved in? You have the kenjinkai, he's the educator...

KM: You also had the fujinkai.

MN: The women's group.

KM: Yeah, the women's group was strong. The women's group did not involve too many of the camp ladies, was more the merchant level groups, I think.

MN: In those old days, were there any equivalent to a merchant's group?

KM: There were, like my dad was a member of the... I don�t know what they used to call it, hotel association made up of all the hotel people in Maui, which was Hamada across the street from us, and Wailuku had Kutsunai, I think, and then the leaders of this group was Yamashiro Hotel and Kobayashi Hotel from Honolulu. Nakamura Hotel. So my dad was a member of this strong hotel association. Besides the Japanese educational associations, which was statewide as well as islandwide.

WN: Was there an equivalent of a chamber of commerce?

KM: Well, Japanese chamber.

WN: There was a Japanese chamber.

KM: In Honolulu it was a big...

WN: What about on Maui? You know, with just the merchants?

KM: I don't know if Maui... because it was not my time. Maui, my basic time in Maui was high school. 1940, I graduated from high school. 1941 I worked one year at Maui Pineapple, and then in 1941 I came out to Honolulu to go to the University of Hawaii. So my time, my basic growing up time was up to 1941, and then for one year -- no, after the war started, I stayed back one year before I joined the 442. I was working as a carpenter, defense work.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

MN: You know, going back to your childhood time, when your dad, having been a principal of a Japanese language school and being involved in the Maui Kyoikukai, I guess, would you know what his stand was on Japanese language schools in Hawaii?

KM: Well, let me tell you what I know of why he quit teaching. This is, earlier I told you something about the Okinawan community and Naichi community. Well, as a teacher in Maui, the Maui community Japanese schools always had a contest annually where the outstanding Nisei student would be recognized within the Maui Association of Japanese Schools, you had this recognition once a year. And the year that my dad was still teaching, one of his students he considered exceptionally outstanding was an Okinawan boy. In the contest, he came on second and my dad was so mad about it that he made a real big, big fuss about it trying to overturn the decision, this and that. But because the thing had been announced and the winner was declared, he got so disgusted he quit teaching Japanese school and excused himself from the Japanese teaching. But he still was a member of the education association. And later on, turned out that his student became a biochemist and he was the biochemist for Kuakini Hospital from the very beginning. And Kuakini Hospital was then known as the Japanese Hospital in Honolulu. But Mr. Chine, longtime employee and biochemist at Kuakini Hospital, was my dad's student.

MN: He was the boy?

KM: He was the boy. So my dad was very, very liberal-minded. I can relate to that, too, because when my brother Paul got married to Ruth, when did they get married? 1941? No, he got married 1942, I think. Even at that time, for an interracial marriage, it was very unusual.

MN: And Ruth is Caucasian?

KM: Ruth is of Danish, from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was rather forward-minded.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

MN: And just so that we don't leave any pukas in the record, I'm going to keep you still in your childhood. And I remember at one time, off-tape, you were telling us that your family served meals at the Miho Hotel that weren't served elsewhere. Like your father and mother were instrumental in serving namako?

KM: Namako, yes. My dad and I, we used to go harvesting and picking cucumbers, sea cucumbers, down at the breakwater. The Pier 1 breakwater had... and I don't know how he found out about it, but these things have to have clear water and things. So I used to go picking with him. And then my mother started to feed special guests the namako. Not to everybody, but then it started to get to everybody want to get a taste of the namako and became very common... not common. The other thing that my dad also, so-called, introduced was that, out in Paia, and it has to be a certain, where the wind surfing is now very popular, that beach.

WN: Hookipa.

KM: Yeah, Hookipa. There's a spot over there that, I don�t know how my dad discovered, but nori grows on that rough wind-blown, strong waves. Because there have to be a combination of fresh water, underwater, usually underwater, underground river, fresh water that mixes with the salt water and certain conditions allow for this Japan-type nori to grow on the rocks. But to get there is a scary thing because I used to go and scrape off, you have to scrape off the nori from the rocks with a scraper. Usually we used to go before New Year's because it was an additive for the ozoni, this fresh nori. In Japan, how they would cultivate it, the nori would grow on the strings and you just scrape it off the strings. But that grew in Hookipa, in that area. Only one spot on Maui, as far as I know. Unfortunately, a whole bunch of other people found out about it years later. I don't know if today there's still any more nori over there because they overcultivated it. But it was really good nori.

WN: It's like an algae then, yeah?

KM: It is, that's what it is. Seaweed is algae, basically.

WN: But the fresh water mixing with the salt water.

KM: They had to have certain combination of this fresh water, and the waves. It has to be wet and dry at certain times.

MN: So your family would serve namako, the seaweed that you would go and get. And what other services did they give to the clientele? The meals were served?

KM: Well, basically, it was Hiroshima dishes because my mother was from Hiroshima. But I don't know how they were able to get the ingredients, but that's where these so-called salesmen from Honolulu would come to sell to the Maui merchants like Onishi Store and whatnot, Kobayashi Store. Sumida, Fujii Junichi, were Japanese products. Those days the basic Japanese ingredients were from these stores.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

MN: And I think you mentioned in a conversation that there were also a few non-Japanese clients at the Miho Hotel? Who were they?

KM: Some of them came from Hana because from Hana, if you wanted to come into town, those days, it was almost impossible to come into town and then go back the same day. It was such a long trip. It wasn't a three-hour drive like it is today. Even today, it's a three-hour drive, but those days it was an overnight affair. So a lot of the Hana people used to stay at our house, different nationalities: Hawaiian people, there's Filipino people.

And then E.K. Fernandez, who did all these shows, the elder E.K. Fernandez, when times were good, when the carnival business was good, he would be staying at the Waikiki Grand Hotel. But certain years, the carnival business wasn't so hot, then he would stay at our place. So I got to know Mr. Fernandez and even the son that passed away not too long ago. That was his second or third wife. And now the family, the younger generation, has taken over. But I used to know the E.K. Fernandez.

MN: You know, when, say, the Maui Fair was on, how did that affect this?

KM: The Maui Fair, it kind of interrupted with our regular clientele. Because we would have the, not the main attraction people. The main attraction people would stay at Grand Hotel. But the sideshow people would stay at our hotel. Like the ones that I remembered, the World's Tallest Man, he stayed at our hotel. The one that I remember the most and I got along with really well was this, he was supposed to be the Egyptian, Haji Ali, if I recall, Haji Ali. He and another man, I don't know what the other man would, but all the time that they would have free time, they would play dominoes. That's when I first got exposed to dominoes. Every free time they had, the two would be involved in dominoes. But what his talent was, I think he had a double stomach. He was one of those that would swallow certain things, marbles, and then you want the black marble, red marble, he would spit out different colored ones and he takes all kinds of things into the stomach and get it out. It was quite a thing. I remember that he had caught a cold or something on one trip. He's not one, he used to come for several years as a sideshow attraction. And one year I remember distinctly that he had a cold or something so I had to take him to, at that time, Dr. Izumi was already in business. So I took him to Dr. Izumi and got him taken care of. And the doctor told me, I remember years later, that the doctor told me, he said, "You know the man that you sent us over there? He's strange." I said, "Why?" He said, "The x-ray shows that I think he has two stomachs." That's my clear recollection, was the doctor telling me that, what kind of man he was. Because he thought that the x-ray showed distinctly that this person had two stomachs. And to this day, they are... I saw, years later, in the 1960s and '70s, on my trip to Japan, one of the nightclub shows, I saw this Japanese man with the same kind of trick. And evidently, he was a very well-known Japanese performer. But the word was that he had two different stomachs. And when I saw him in Yokohama, of course, my recollection of the earlier days is so vague. But very intricate. He would swallow goldfishes and take out, live goldfishes and take out the live goldfishes, and put in marbles and lighted bulbs and all kinds of things. It was fantastic. But we had all these sideshow people living and staying in my place. So I got a free show of these, lady with the most beard and things like that, lived at our house, "monkey man" as I recall. Who else? The trapeze actors and things, some of them. So I got exposed to all these carnival people.

MN: Your friends must have been envious of you.

KM: Oh, yeah, yeah.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

MN: So since your family was actually living there and you have your clients coming in, what was your involvement in the running of the hotel?

KM: My early involvement was, I was a shoe shine boy. Very early I used to shine shoes for some of my customers. And, of course, my earliest occupation was as a newspaper delivery boy. And as such, I think I must have done that from seven years old or eight years old, for about seven or eight years. And as a delivery boy, I knew exactly what was going on throughout the whole town of Kahului. Because although I would not deliver a newspaper to every household, I would have to pass every household to make my deliveries. So there was a route that took me though every, just about every household. Whether I delivered the newspapers or not, I would pass by. So for seven years I did this. So I knew just about... any unusual thing that was going on in camp, I was aware of.

MN: And what newspaper were you delivering?

KM: This was a Maui Jiji, I think it was called. Mr. Yasui was a very learned, educated man, he was the owner and the publisher of Maui Jiji. And my father was one of the reporters, too, I think, for the newspaper. And as such, I was forced to deliver the newspapers. Well, it was a, rain or shine, you had to deliver the newspapers.

MN: Was it morning? Afternoon?

KM: And then Japanese school was in between. Remember, I was seven, eight years old, I was still going to Japanese school. So it had to be worked out with my schedule with Japanese school as well as with all my athletic this and that. Training program, practice program, I did it for, until I was seven through fourteen, I delivered newspapers.


MN: Okay. Before we leave the topic of the carnival sideshow act people staying at your hotel, I was wondering, did you talk story with these guests?

KM: You know, my recollection is that I always had a wonderful relationship with these people. I felt like I was their pet project, they took so well, they took so good care of me. In some cases they would take me along for short walks and whatnot. But my recollection of different individuals has always been pleasant memories of getting to know these so-called odd people who were enough to be members of the sideshow attractions of E.K. Fernandez.

MN: And you were saying something about a clown a being your favorite?

KM: Yeah, there was this Freckles. Just before World War II, Freckles was a very popular clown. My recollection is that even after World War II, he still was performing with E.K. Fernandez. One time, years later, I met him and he still remembered me. Yeah. He became a businessman in Honolulu. I forgot exactly what kind of business he was involved in. But for a short while, I remember him doing business in Honolulu.

MN: How did your parents react to these carnival guests?

KM: Well, they were very important guests that my mother went out of her way to take care of, to treat them very kindly and make them feel at home. We had a, kind of like a veranda area where we had this garden and whatnot. It was pleasant for them to sit around the tables, card tables, sit down and relax because they basically had no -- they couldn't go out because they were so-called freaks. You know, you had the bearded man or the World's Tallest Man, you couldn't go out and give the people a free show, so they have to stay indoors.

WN: Did they eat Japanese food?

KM: I don't know if we fed... I think we had to feed them because all of our guests, we fed them. So in the case of these sideshow people, I guess my mother went out of their way to prepare Western food and whatnot.

WN: Okay, so not namako then? [Laughs]

KM: NO. Like in my case, when I was going to, from high school, my mother was always busy. And so I had a standard breakfast all prepared, which I had to not only eat in a rush, had five minutes to catch the bus, you know, you're always making, just catching the bus. But my standard breakfast was egg rice, bacon, and it was always prepared for me so as soon as I was ready to go, I would sit down, eat, and rush out. But every morning I had that, bacon and egg.

MN: You know, you said that it would be prepared for you. Who did it?

KM: My mother, usually my mother. Usually my mother. Had this all prepared outside there, I would eat on the run.

MN: And, you know, when I asked you about your involvement in the hotel, I was just wondering if you had any chores to do in the hotel, like the furo or anything?

KM: When I grew a little older, I did the bedsheets and whatnot, too. I did room cleaning, I cleaned the rooms and changed the sheets and bedding. I did, it was so-called housekeeping tasks.

MN: Who generally did the housekeeping work?

KM: We had this live-in, not maid, but worker. But she was also too busy, involved doing other things, so whenever I could, I was asked to do those things. We started out from shoe shining, I got promoted to housecleaning.

MN: And that shoe shining, was that something that the individual clients would ask you to do, or some service that was given?

KM: It was something that I did and we got tipped. If the shoes were dirty, I would clean the shoes for them and I got tipped. I didn't do it, there were some kids who were doing it on the sidewalk as an income-producing effort. But in my case, I was limited to doing it within the hotel, only for our guests.

WM: Was there a chair?

KM: No, no, small little box.

WM: You had the box?

KM: Yeah, I had a small box with all the paraphernalia, shoe shine paraphernalia.

MN: How much would you get tipped?

KM: Oh, those days was five cents, at the most, five cents. At the most. Because you could get a plate of lunch, I think, for five cents. So it must have been way less than that. I don't recall monetarily what kind of tips that I used to have. Because that was when I was real young.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

MN: And then I don't know if you know, but how was the hotel business for your family? Was it okay or struggling?

KM: I think we just barely survived, we just barely survived. Because already my brother Katsuro had already -- you see, he left for Utah out of high school, I think. So his expenses was heavy on my parents, I think. He had to work his way through Utah, too, and law school, all that. But he left rather early. So Tsukie worked as a secretary for Maui Soda Works after high school, and then left Hawaii to go to Japan and live in Japan. Then Fumiye started to go to University of Hawaii. So there was this outside-of-the-island expenses. Katsuro was still in school. Fumiye followed him. Paul was then on a high school level. So it was rather difficult. I don't know how my parents were able to do it, but I do know that in those days, tanomoshi was a very important part of the financial involvement. I used to remember that my mother always used to say that, well, there was a tanomoshi day was coming or going or whatever. I got to know what it was all about or realize what it was all about, the significance of tanomoshi. In my early years, I did not have any idea. But as I grew up, I became aware that financing at that time, tanomoshi was a integral part of family financing.

MN: And in those days, who were the people that were in their tanomoshi groups?

KM: I don't know the particulars but I would assume basically it was town, different merchants. Within the merchants, they had their own. Camp people had their own, I think. But I don't remember the camp people being too involved with tanomoshi. Basically, it was the town people.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

MN: Another thing that you mentioned earlier was Oshogatsu, you know, for New Year's, you would be sent out to get the nori.

KM: My dad and I, about a week before the New Year's, we'd go out for nori. And cucumber is usually winter seasons, you know, the sea cucumbers, namako is usually winter seasons. And then it was also, mochitsuki was a big deal. Mochitsuki was a big deal. I remember we had a stone, regular stone part there for mochitsuki, for many years. My brothers, my older brother, Katsuaki, did a lot of mochitsuki.

MN: So you folks had the usu and everything?

KM: Yeah, we had everything, we had everything.

MN: At your house?

KM: In fact, I think Katsuro, we used to do it at Katsuro's place until they lost the paraphernalia. I don't know what happened to it. Oh, I do. We got tired of him directing us what to do. [Laughs]

MN: So at that point you just go to the mochi-ya?

KM: Yeah, we used to go to Nisshodo, which is much easier.

MN: But back in Maui, what do you remember about Oshogatsu or New Year's in the Japanese community there?

KM: Oh, it was a big deal. Families used to get invited to different places. We used to go to, not only our family, but we used to go to different families to partake of the different kinds of food that they had available. As children, we didn't hold back. We felt free to go to the immediate families to, to taste all the different kinds. Because different families had different things prepared.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

MN: And during your childhood, I was wondering, who do you remember as being like your close group of friends? As a kid, who would you play with?

KM: My involvement was with the town kids, basically. But there were a couple of, well, it's because I used to deliver newspapers. My newspaper delivery was time consuming. For instance, my favorite recollection of newspaper delivery is that for many years, playing marbles was a big growing-up game that I was involved with many years. So, in delivering the newspapers, I had to schedule my delivery so that I know at a certain point of my delivery, I'm going to stop and get involved with, play marbles with particular individuals who were my classmates. That would take maybe sometimes half an hour, sometimes one hour. So my delivery was extended because of that. And I don't know, you see that, Jiro Watanabe was the steel guitar player from L Company. He passed away last year, but he was the steel guitar player from 442, akogare no, rest of the orchestra. He played steel guitar, all of the old Japanese songs and he would perform at weddings and this and that for many years. But from the very early times, when I was involved with marble playing, he was learning the ukulele. He would not get involved playing marbles with me or with our other friends, he would be strumming on the guitar, on the ukulele those years. From that early age, he was very interested in ukulele. And I got involved with marble playing, he �became a musician.

MN: And then besides marble playing, what else did you do for fun?

KM: We had this game called, it was made out of broomstick, you know the broomstick? It was a short handle and then there was a shorter stick that was cut at a bevel. What you did was you would lay it on the ground and you had to hit on the bevel, with the handle and it would pop in the air and then tell you how much, how many times you could...

WN: Peewee?

KM: That's right, it's called peewee. That was a popular game.

WN: So you hit it...

KM: You could do legs or number of times, the game was, you competed against each other. Besides that, as I said, we would catch birds once in a while. When I came near the chicken coop area, we would spend time catching birds if we could.

WN: How did you catch birds?

KM: We had that, what do you call that? Japanese sticky mochi.

WN: It's called torimochi.

KM: There's a phraseology which I forgot. It's not tori... I forgot the terminology but we would stick it onto the wire near the chicken farm, and the birds would perch on the wire and that's it. You know, if they're perched on the wire, that's it, we'd just go up there and get the birds. And so today, one of my tasks is to feed the birds in my yard, my driveway, because I remember the days when I used to partake of these birds. Not only that, later years, my brother's good friend from Molokai, Henry Yamashita, sent us, every so often, boxes of fully cleaned turtle or regular doves and we would have barbeque and teriyaki. Nowadays my task is to feed the turtledoves and birds that come around my yard to make up for the bad days.

MN: Besides catching birds, what else did you do outdoors in Kahului as a kid?

KM: Kahului was right next to the harbor. The beach was a big part of my activities. Growing up, several friends of mine, not only town boys but camp boys, would go swimming. And we stayed out on the beach until dark, until we know that our parents would be calling for us. Especially during the summer months, we just stay on the beach. If it's not swimming, we go fishing. Fishing was a big part of our pastime because there were spots on the harbor that under the wharf we could go and fish from. In later years, the possible entrance to these, under the wharf was closed because of, I don't know whether they were stopping us from going under the pier or because of controlling the rat infestation. I don't think it was rat infestation, it must be to stop people from going under the pier. But we used to do a lot of fishing under the pier. That's how I learned how to catch the yellow manini. Yellow manini were the ones that we go for or kumu or moano. Every so often, August, July and August, we'll have the running or we go crabbing for white crabs from the pier. That was very, very popular, crabbing. Those activities were always available to us.

MN: How about picking fruit?

KM: Oh, yeah. One of the other activities was... the library was located in Wailuku. And one of our activities growing up was, on Saturdays, I don't know what age or what, but there was a period of time when almost every Saturday we would go to the library and we had to walk. To go to library in those days, we didn't have that Kahumanu Avenue from Wailuku to Kahului, right through the sand here. We had to walk that long walk all the way around the Kahului Bay around to where that manju-ya was.

WN: Today they call it Beach Road?

KM: Beach Road, they call it Beach Road. It would take us about, it was about a two and a half miles or three miles from Kahului to the library. Other occasions, especially during summer months, we did a lot of... we didn't have money for extravaganzas. So a lot of these munching had to be seasonal. In other words, when the guava season was there, we would go picking guavas in Iao Valley. We had to go all the way up to the Iao Valley or to the river by Maui Dry Goods, a place, I forgot the place. But guava season we'd go up there, for mango season we'd get up to Iao Valley. And Iao Valley was about three miles from Kahului. But that was our summertime activity basically. Plum, I don't know, have you seen these black plums that, in Manoa stream has a lot of, right by Long's Drugs, so there's a lot of plums. But those plums were terrible. If you get them on a white shirt, you can't get the stains off. But that was one of our favorites. It was not as sweet, it was kind of bitter. But anything to munch on, we would go and pick these plum season, which was a lot of fun. We used to make juice out of it. There was one other fruit that we used to go and pick. I don't see it nowadays, but it's called, I remember we used to call mamee apple, the mamee apple. There were a couple of trees in Iao Valley. And we would know when the seasons was and we'd go up there to pick mamee apple. And, of course, a long ride was going out to Hana side, where there was mountain apples. August, I think, was the month that you'd go for mountain apple. And then in the Iao Valley they used to have what you called rose apple. And all of these fruits was our favorite, so-called, munching. We couldn't afford to buy these things. It wasn't on the market anyway. But the one thing was that most of us always learned the hard way, eating too much green guavas. That was terrible. All of us learned the hard way. But it was fun. Considering now you don't have kids walking three miles just to go have fun up in the valley or anything like that. But it was a regular thing for us during the summer months.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

MN: You know, you mentioned a stream, did you folks do anything in the streams?

KM: That Iao Valley Stream, up Iao Valley, was the favorite picnic grounds for the families. I think the AJA families did more picnicking than any other community's families. But Iao Valley was a favorite picnic grounds for the families. We'd go up there on many, many, many occasions just to eat teri beef. I remember cooking on the hot rocks, the teri beef. You cook it on the rocks and make a big fire and put the teriyaki on the rocks to cook it. And the water was always fresh water. They could drink, the stream water was very fresh, you could drink it right off the river. There weren't people worried about pollution those days, pollution was not a problem. But it was a favorite, Iao Valley was a favorite picnic grounds.

MN: You were saying AJA families would go on these picnics. What else what you folks do as a family?

KM: As a family, all of the so-called, what would you call it? Not carnival, but operettas. The Japanese...

WN: Plays.

KM: Yeah, the plays, shibai and all that. We would have certain occasions when the schools would put on, once or twice a year we would put on these community functions where different classes would perform different dances, different things. These were for families, basically for families. Over and above, the Bon Odori and Fourth of July was a big thing, Fourth of July was a big thing. Emperor's birthday wasn't that kind of, it was basically not too big, but still it was celebrated, family style. So most of the functions were family affairs.

MN: You just said that Fourth of July...

KM: Was a big deal. Yeah, was a big deal in Maui.

MN: Among the Japanese, AJA families or larger community?

KM: My recollection is that -- and this was confirmed not too long ago when I was doing some research on sumo -- that Bishop Museum, I found a picture of tournament that was held, inter-island tournament that was held in Kahului on Fourth of July. The picture showed part of the entire group of participants, plus part of the attendants. I would guesstimate that it was probably over two thousand people at this Fourth of July affair.

MN: And when you looked at that picture and you looked at the people in attendance, were they predominately AJA?

KM: Oh, all Japanese are, all Japanese. All Japanese community. Because those were from the neighbor islands also. You had people coming from the neighbor islands. It was a big state tournament.

MN: And in those days, was your father involved in the sumotori tournaments, too?

KM: I guess he was part of the committee that worked on the whole gathering because Mr. Sado was the perennial boss for sumo. In fact, in the internment pictures I see, there was a picture that my father kept of sumo being held in the internment camp in Santa Fe. And I see Mr. Sado in the picture.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

MN: And I think I'll switch over to your Kahului Grammar School days. Where was Kahului Grammar School located?

KM: At the so-called, at the Wailuku end of Kahului, right at the entrance to the Maui Pineapple cannery. The entrance today would be the end of Kaahumanu Shopping Center, and Maui Pine was located right next door to Kahului Grammar School. And Kahului Grammar School, next to it was one of the first so-called trade school. Instead of community college, at that time, it was known as trade school. I think you graduated from grammar school and instead of going to high school, you could pick up a trade and that was the first, beginning of the so-called community colleges. But at that time, I think I think it was known as trade schools. You could learn the trades, you could learn carpentry, you could learn plumbing, and you could learn to become an electrician or whatever. And that school was located between Kahului Grammar School and the Maui Pineapple cannery.

MN: And then like how big was Kahului Grammar School?

KM: My picture of my class is twenty-five, thirty. That was the eighth grade, first through the eighth grade. So you can double that by eight -- no, not eight, sixth, seventh, first grade through eighth grade.

MN: And where did the students come from? Like Kahului?

MN: All of the camp, Kahului and a lot of the town. And there were a sprinkling of small little villages along the Beach Road and out by the pier there was, I think more or less Hawaiian, not camp, there was just a sprinkling of families maybe out in that area. Kahana Pond, what we call it now.

MN: And so when you look back on your classmates, in terms of ethnicities, what do you remember?

KM: Basically, how many percent, probably eighty, eighty-five percent was AJAs. Then we had, for instance, in my eighth-grade class, if you look into the picture, there was one Filipino boy and two Hawaiian boys. There were no Chinese boys. I don't remember a Chinese classmate in grammar school. Although there were, within Kahului there were some Chinese families, but none was in my classmates. So among the girls, there were a couple of Hawaiian girls, couple of Filipino girls, but very few non-Japanese.

MN: So predominately Japanese, AJA.

KM: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

MN: And I know it's a long time ago, but what do you remember about your teachers? Any memorable ones who made an impact on you?

KM: Oh yeah, I remember one... one of my teachers by the name of Izumi, I think it was Izumi, he was my math teacher. And the statement that I recall by him, made by him was that Bing Crosby was a frequent visitor to Maui. And it was at the height of his popularity. He came because Maui was the center of polo. The plantation managers, Baldwin families, basically, their expertise polo play because they were the only ones who played polo, or could afford to play polo. But within the islands, I think Maui was the center of polo play. And so I remember Bing Crosby would come and play polo. Who else was that flier, the airplane pilot that got killed in Alaska crash? He died in an Alaska crash, world famous flier. But anyway... Wiley Post, I think it was. I think it was Wiley Post. They would come, and one year I remember Bing Crosby came as one of the guests. And there was a big, everybody would go down to the pier and see them come in and where he was going to go, and we'd all go down to the pier to say goodbye to him. And so it was at the age when Izumi started... although he was a math teacher, he happened to talk about what you wanted to be as you grew up and what kind of future you wanted. And so they were talking about different levels of professionalism. I distinctly remember him telling us, "Don't be a singer, it's just a temporary profession. You don't know when you're going to lose your voice." This is exactly what he said, this is exactly what I remember. He said, "There's no future in it." I keep thinking, all those years afterward, "Gee, when is Bing Crosby's future going to end?" [Laughs] That's why I remember it, because Bing Crosby lasted so long afterwards that what Izumi said way back then, I keep remembering, I can't forget it: "Don't be a singer because there's no future in it. You don't know when you're going to lose your voice." If you ask me what I remember of grammar school, that's about the most outstanding thing I remember in grammar school.

MN: What did Mr. Izumi say to become then? He told folks, "Don't become a singer," but what then should you become?

KM: He didn't delve into what if you become a school teacher, or even at that point, I think, it's not farfetched when you're forced to become doctors and physicians, dentists. He spoke of the professions, he spoke of other professions.

MN: Like Mr. Izumi is second generation AJA. At Kahului Grammar, what kind of backgrounds did the other teachers come from?

KM: I had another favorite teacher of mine was a Chinese background, married to a Japanese. She was Chinese but she was married to a Japanese man. She was one of my favorite teachers. Other than that, I don't remember, there were some real nice, pleasant Caucasian teachers, very nice teachers, I don't remember anything in particular outstanding other than that. They were very pleasant.

MN: Did those teachers come from local Caucasian families?

KM: They were local families. These people were very local. The ones at grammar school level were very local. There were wives of people who were working on the railroad. Other than that, I don't have clear recollections of their background.

MN: And what do you remember most about your studies there?

KM: I had the most difficult time with mathematics. That was my worst subject, mathematics. All the other classes I don't remember too much about, but math was the worst.

MN: If you evaluate yourself as a student in grammar school, how were you?

KM: Well, you know, I did not realize it at that time, but my classmates were from the camps, so to speak, most of them were having a bad, hard time financially. They were really... gradually when I got to the high school level, most of the boys were already dropouts. They were already working to make a living. So from my grade school through high school from my class, there were one of about three or four boys who went up to high school. And the rest, I guess they just got into stevedoring.

MN: Did any of them go into, like, the trade school that you mentioned earlier, or was that at a later time?

KM: I don't know, but I'm sure, because right next to our grammar school was this trade school. And some of my classmates went to trade school instead of high school. Well, you lose track. Once you're in high school and thereon, you lose track. Other than socially we get together and all that, but you lose track. So my recollection is very vague in that regard.

MN: For your, was that a given that you would go to high school?

KM: Oh, yes. There was no discussion or anything, it was just a natural step for me to be taking. Even going to the university, there was not talk about whether I'd go to work or what, but in my family, after high school, all of us worked at least one year to get the nest egg before we went to, came out to Honolulu to go to University of Hawaii.

MN: Why was it that way in your family, do you think, that you folks all went into higher education?

KM: I don't recall any serious discussion on whether what I would do or not. But it was a natural progression from grade school to high school, high school to the university. And that was, I guess, expected of me. Although my recollection after high school that I had no idea what I wanted to do, and I had absolutely no idea. But my brother had gone, my other sister didn't go because she went to Japan. But for me, Paul, Katsuaki had all continued on. Without any question, I was just to follow suit.

MN: And financially your family could do it?

KM: Somehow, the one year work was to build up a nest egg. But somehow we managed to send everybody to school, but we all did part-time work. All of us did part-time work.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

MN: And before we get into more of your part-time work, I know that after Kahului Grammar, which is up to eighth grade, you went on to Maui High School. Where was Maui High located?

KM: Maui High School was about twelve miles from Kahului towards Hana. The first year was the first time that we commuted by bus. Prior to that, the students from Kahului had to commute by railroad. There was a railroad that went from Kahului to Paia. From Paia, they had to... I don't know if, I don't think the railroad went all the way up to Maui High. I don't know how they commuted from Paia to Maui High. But from Kahului to Paia, it was by railroad. From my time, we went by bus. It was a twelve-mile bus ride.

WN: How far was [inaudible] Poko from Paia?

KM: About two miles, maybe a mile and a half.

WN: So you're not sure how students went from the train station to Maui High?

KM: Because it was before my time.

WN: I wonder if they walked?

KM: They could. Because it hardly rained up there, it was dry country. So could be. Because Paia railroad station, Maui High �was here, this is Kahului. We'd go to Paia. But to go to Paia by car, you would have to go all the way down to the beach. It would be about three-quarters of a mile down, and you went another three quarters of a mile, and then catch this road to go up to Maui High School, which is a big U. And from the train station to Maui High, they must have had a shortcut. Because from the train station to Maui High is not the big U like this. The U, if you take the U, it's about... for instance, when I used to play football, there were no bus transportation after football practice. So all of us had to walk from Maui High all the way down to Paia, which was about a mile and a half, but we had to walk. There was no transportation after school. But from the railroad station to Maui High must have been a short walk.

WN: Maybe through the cane field.

KM: Right, almost directly across.

MN: And then in those days, was there a Baldwin yet?

KM: Baldwin started off, like I was in the eighth grade. Then the first freshman year, Wailuku students started Baldwin High School as the first class and went on until second, third, and fourth. Some of my classmates went to Baldwin. I don't know how they split those of us from going to Maui High and those of us... some of us went to Baldwin. They just started that school. The ninth grade was the old Iwao school, it wasn't, the Baldwin High School wasn't built yet. So they went from nine, ten, eleven, twelve, became a high school progressively. And so Eddie Honda, Judge Honda, he was in that class. It was the same class as I was, but he was, Baldwin High School.

MN: And then what were your feelings towards Maui High School? You're entering ninth grade, what did you think?

KM: Well, I didn't think much about it. Then at that time, I don't know why we did not even think about it, but that we were excluded from, the feeling was we were excluded from Baldwin because there was, number one, there was not enough room for Kahului students to go to Baldwin because it was already, the class was already set. It was very limited facilities, as I recall.

MN: And when you started going to Maui High School, and you looked around and you see your classmates, how was the mix this time? You said Kahului Grammar School was Japanese?

KM: Yeah, there was a different mixture at Maui High School. Because Maui High School, you know, at that time you had English-standard schools. Kahului was not an English-standard school, but there was one English-standard school in Spreckelsville. I think there was another English-standard school in Wailuku. But the other English-standard school, on a grade school level was Kaunoa School.

WN: Kaunoa.

KM: Yeah, Kaunoa school.

WN: Spreckelsville, yeah?

KM: Yeah, Spreckelsville. That was the English-standard school which my friend [inaudible] Lim had gone to. Because the father was a Korean minister, see? But I don't know he got involved, but he was a Kaunoa School graduate, but he's my classmate. So most of the Kaunoa graduates went to Maui High School. But most of them were Caucasian students. And so this group of Caucasians, is the first time that I started to have classmates who were Caucasian. In fact, I had a couple of haole girls in my class, but there weren't that many. But there was this group of Kaunoa School graduates who were mostly from the Caucasian employers' group or supervisory group. And so the mixture was... but we didn't feel any different. I didn't feel any different. My friends were still my friends and I made new friends. Fortunately, as a Boy Scout, I had people who lived in that Maui High School area, my very good friends. I had some very good friends as a Boy Scout. The Boy Scout wasn't limited to Kahului camp or town, but as a Boy Scout group, we had these Maui Boy Scout gathering. And in fact, even at interisland, you had, which is a big deal coming to... very few of us came to, we could attend a Maui jamboree but not Oahu. And so very early in my Boy Scout days, I made some very good friends who were my classmates as I went to Maui High School. So I felt very comfortable with these friends, especially. I had Eddie Okazaki and Wayne Sakamoto, couple of other friends. Oh, Clinton Shiraishi, who I got to know as a Boy Scout before I got to know them as my classmates in high school.

WN: Clinton Shiraishi is a Maui boy?

KM: He's a Maui boy.

WN: But he moved to Kauai later?

KM: When he married this Waimea store... I forgot the...

WN: Kawakami?

KM: Not Kawakami. It's the big market, department store in Waimea, Kauai. Big family, even today.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

MN: So you know this Boy Scout troop, which troop was it?

KM: Well, we had we had Kahului troop, Paia group, we had the Puunene troop and each town had their own troop.

MN: And nowadays, you have, like, certain schools sponsoring a troop?

KM: It was town, not schools. It was a town, Kahului Troop Nine, I think my troop was troop nine, I think.

MN: And what sorts of activities did the Boy Scout group do? What did you do as a Boy Scout?

KM: We used to go out camping, right next to Pier 1 or Pier 2, Kahului. Sort of like a park, for overnight camping we would sometimes go there. Or we would go to Iao Valley for camping. Then Easter vacations, we used to go to Kaanapali, where the Kaanapali Hotel is now located. That was the favorite Boy Scout camp area. The beach that is now fronting the Kaanapali Hotel was the front and center for Boy Scouts to camp every Easter vacation. That was a big deal to go out to spend four, five days out there during the Easter week.

WN: Was that Fleming Beach?

KM: No, this was not Fleming, this was Kaanapali Hotel. You know where Kaanapali Hotel is protruding out there, and then there's this beautiful beach right alongside of it? Alongside of that was the camping area for Boy Scouts. It was a big deal, you cook, we learned how to cook cabbage and corned beef, tuna cabbage, that was our favorite dishes. And then going there, we'd spend, one or two nights, we would go movies, to Lahaina. From that place, Kaanapali to Lahaina, I would say... how many miles? Two miles or two and a half miles. And our troop would go to Lahaina down to take in the movies. But the thing about going back, you see, it would be about ten o'clock, ten-thirty, right? You have to walk past the graveyard. Old Japanese graveyard along, right along the highway. That was a long graveyard, believe me. At that time of the night, that was one of the so-called initiation for the younger ones. You had to go to the movies, particularly to initiate the young ones, to walk that graveyard highway. But graveyard is still there. It's still there along that old part of the main highway. You hardly see it from the highway.

WN: On the beach, yeah?

KM: You hardly see it from the highway, right next to the beach.

WN: Yeah, yeah, by that temple with the Buddha?

KM: No, no, it's not that one. No, no, this is between Kaanapali and... there was nothing between Kaanapali and Lahaina.

WN: Oh, okay.

KM: It was all blank. The camp was dark, the road was dark, there were no streetlights or anything.

MN: Except the graveyard.

KM: Oh, that was something. Thirteen-year-old, twelve-year-old. The new ones were always twelve years old, right? Tenderfoot. But there was, I don't know whether we had, we were just as scared as the Tenderfoot or what, but we had to act big and brave. [Laughs]

MN: Would you remember your leader's name?

KM: Yeah, my leader was, for a long time... not Takeuchi. Oh, he was a postmaster, I think. He was our postmaster. His wife was a schoolteacher, and the wife outlived him for a long time. Oh, I forgot his name, but he was my Boy Scout leader.

MN: He was an AJA?

KM: Uh-huh, yeah.

MN: So an older second generation?

KM: Older second. He was second generation. How can I forget his name?

MN: Did your parents encourage you to do things like Boy Scouts? How come you did it? How come you joined Boy Scouts?

KM: I think all my brothers, Katsuaki and my brother Paul were also Boy Scouts. Yeah, they were also Boy Scouts. Katsuro, my oldest brother, was a Boy Scout. And as a Boy Scout, the first inter-island model airplane contest was held and sponsored by the Star-Bulletin, when he was fifteen year old, sixteen year old. That inter-island model airplane contest. The winner was going to get a full, all-expense paid trip to Detroit, and Katsuro won it. The first inter-island... and I don't know how many others they had at that time after, but he won the statewide model airplane contest. And so at that time, it was a big deal, big celebration and all that. And so he went to Detroit, the consul general came out to see him off. He met all kinds of bigwigs those days, ambassador to Japan or some this and that. The fact that he was an AJA was a big deal. And he came back with stories of seeing talking movies. Oh, those days, we never heard of, you can go to the movies and hear the voice. He came back and said, oh, he went to see the talking movies. I remember he was telling us. And it was from that time on that he had made up his mind that he would, after high school, he would go to the Mainland to go to school. But he was still a junior, I think. We have all kinds of pictures at that time. But that exposed our family to the Mainland. Yeah, it was a big deal. In fact, one of the pictures we had, I think it was Hung Wo Ching. Katsuro used to say that that was the first time he met Hung Wo Ching. Hung Wo Ching was the second or the third in the community, I think. So way back when, when you talk about the Ching family, Hawaiian, Hung Wo was, he met Hung Wo that far back.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

MN: Well, I just want to ask one more question and then we'll continue next time. But since you mentioned your brother Katsuro, he went through the system: grammar school, high school, had his eyes set on going to the Mainland. You have your two older brothers above you, you have Fumiye above you. To what extent did your siblings' academic progression affect you?

KM: I think there was a certain amount of pressure on my part. I was more or less being the youngest in the family, being pampered. Even I remember being pampered. Life was no big deal. No ambition, this and that. What I went through was expected of me, basically. There were others who were already taking that path, and for me there was no, any other path. There was no pushing, it was just a matter of natural course of events, in my case. And no particular pressure or anything like that, basically.

MN: Like when you were entering high school, was there any advice given to you by your older siblings?

KM: No, no. You see, because at that point, Katsuaki, when I went to high school, Katsuaki was already out of high school. So basically nobody was home. When I started to go high school, I was the only one at home. Tsukie had already gone to Japan, Katsuro was on the mainland, Fumiye may have been at the university, and Paul, Katsuaki. If I look at it chronologically, I'm sure I can figure out who was at home when I was a freshman.

MN: Do we have time for one more question? Okay. Since you mentioned that Tsukie was in Japan, how did she end up in Japan?

KM: She, I think, went as a member of a YBA group, I think. I think it was connected with some, if I remember correctly, and then decided. And we had some relatives. Like for instance, I don't know if I said earlier, but my name is named after Dr. Haida. At that point, the Haida family was already living in Japan, and so she was in contact with them. And I think after the primary purpose of the visit, which was attending some kind of convention, I think the Haida family had some influence on her staying back. Because she was English-speaking and Japanese-speaking, one of the early bilingual, I think that's why she, until she got married she was working. Because she was about the first bilingual Nisei in Tokyo.

MN: So what kind of work was she doing?

KM: I don't remember, I think she was some kind of a secretary or something. Because she was the administrative assistant to the Maui Soda Works, which was one of the big companies in Maui, and she was the secretary to the boss. Of all the kids, she should have been going to college, but at that time, there was no idea that any young Nisei girl would go to university. No thought of girls going to university, and she being the oldest in the family. I heard this so many times from my older sisters, especially Fumiye, that Tsukie was the one that should have been, she had the brain and everything to go to college, but never did.

MN: And then you said that she was influenced by the Haida family, Dr. Haida's family. At that time, then, did she know the Haida that became the famous musician, singer?

KM: Oh, yeah, those were the family, the Haida Katsuhiko and Haruhiko and then two sisters. One was a pianist.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.