Densho Digital Repository
Gerald L. Beppu Collection
Title: Gerald L. Beppu Interview
Narrator: Gerald L. Beppu
Interviewer: Josh Tuininga
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 10, 2021
Densho ID: ddr-densho-435-1

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

GB: When he was a teenager, like I say, I think he was probably eighteen, nineteen years old. And he started working at a store called Togo's on Third and James Street. And that was actually a fishing tackle store. He told me that he was not interested in fishing at all, he just, it was a job for him. And he never went fishing much, but he learned from the owner how to sell fishing tackle, and that's where it all started. And as the years went by, one day, I guess he would always ask my dad to go fishing with him. But my dad was more interested in baseball, and he was on a good baseball team. And anyway, this one Sunday, I know for a fact that my dad said, "I'm sorry, I got a baseball game to go to." So the guy that owned the store went fishing by himself. And apparently, you know how if you go in the rivers, you use waders. And apparently the waves came up and filled his waders, and the poor man drowned. And my dad didn't know until after, you know, the next day, I guess, when he went back to work, that he had passed away. Because he actually drowned while he was fishing there. And my dad and, there was one other fellow that was working at the store, and they tried to do the best they can to keep the store going and everything. And I guess out of the blue, the lady says, asked my dad if he wanted to purchase the store. Because I guess she saw that he kind of got the hang of what's going on. And he was the younger one of the two people that were working there. And he said, "Well, I don't have a lot of money." He was doing this to earn a few bucks on his own. And I guess they made an arrangement somehow where he would pay her so much a month a month or whatever. Anyway, she moved back to Japan and he took over the store from this lady. And there was a lot of people in that area that patronized the store. It became pretty popular and successful as far as during that period of time, talking about prewar, he really started to get the store really going.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

GB: And what happened just before the war, that was in the fall, of course, the skiing season, they sold skis also. And he had just put in a whole bunch of skiis and redid the, more merchandise for fishing, I mean, it was a beautiful store, actually. And anyway, my dad and my mom, they went skiing. They were into skiing, too. And this is in the time when you had to do your own climbing on the hills.

JT: Oh, yeah, no ski lifts.

GB: There was no ski lifts, so you did herringbone up the hill to pat down the snow, and if you were lucky, you probably got two runs down the hill, you know, in a day. So anyway, that's what happened. They went skiing and when they got back into town, they found out Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. And you know, it wasn't that much longer after that that they were just notified that they were going to have to close up the store and evacuate to Puyallup. And you can imagine, I don't know, a young person that's just starting out and re-getting his business going, and then having that happen to him. So they got pennies on the dollar on what time they had left to sell what was in the store. And unfortunately, they didn't get as much as they would like sold. So I don't know, I guess most of the other stuff was just kind of given away.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

GB: He had gone to Puyallup, from Puyallup Fairgrounds, that's where we initially were brought to. I think we stayed there almost about a year before they had the camps ready for us to move. I mean, as a kid, I had no idea, you know, what was going on.

JT: So what did they do to make you feel like there was no problem?

GB: Well, as far as I'm concerned, my parents were, they never complained to me, or I never heard them complain at all amongst themselves. They probably did have a lot of things to say, but they avoided the children listening to whatever their problems were. And consequently, I felt that I had a normal growing up days when I was a kid. Even when we were in camp, actually. I remember barbed wires and I remember... what do you call the thing where the soldier...

Off camera: Watch tower.

GB: Yeah, they would be up there with a machine gun or whatever, a gun up there. They didn't have machine guns, but they had a gun up there. You know, I thought it was every day... when you're small and you grow up in that, you just grow up.

JT: You don't know any different, yeah.

GB: You didn't know any different. Now there was, like I said, a lot of people probably at my same age, maybe their parents felt where they would voice their displeasure at being there and all this kind of, there was a lot of complaints, I'm sure. And I'm sure my parents had a lot of complaints, but they didn't reflect that back to their children, which was me and my sister who was actually born in camp. So she was a baby and she doesn't know anything about camp because you're just a baby. They didn't want to have the children feel the pain that they're feeling, you know. And I understand that now at my age. I could see where, how good they were. I mean, my dad and mom were really wonderful people, and they didn't, we never had...

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

<Begin Segment 4>

GB: My sister and I, we grew up... from the time she was born, after camp was over, we went to Hunt, Idaho, and my dad worked in an ammunition dump there for about a year. Because we didn't have any money to come back to Seattle, and he just barely eked a living there. And from there we moved to Nebraska where he got a job where he was able to save some money to buy a car to come back to Seattle. That was the option. Now, I don't know if this man was Jewish or not, because I was never told by my parents, nationality-wise, whether... I know by his name, I think "Greene" is a very popular name for Jewish people. And this man was named Paul Greene. And he was an insurance agent for my dad. And when the war broke out, he, without saying anything, telling my dad, my dad had a policy with him. He paid premiums all the time, he didn't know, I don't know if he even knew if my dad was still alive, to be honest with you. But anyway, so we went to camp in '42 or whatever it was, and when we got back to Seattle it was '47, '48, I think, when we finally got enough money to get a car to come back. Well, this Mr. Paul Greene was, I can't believe that a man would do this. But we had, like I say, my dad had this Togo Store on Third on James Street. We had counters, I don't know what you call them, cabinets that had glass in it, and we had four cabinets that were saved by this Mr. Greene also. And I don't know where he stored it, but he must have had an area to put all this in. And he had stored all this thing for my dad, paid the premium, he didn't even know that he was doing this. When we got back, I guess my dad made contact with him and he found out what was, that he had done all this. And like I say, he worked as a, when he got back, he worked as a manager of the St. George Apartments which is on Fourteenth and Yesler Street, that's where St. George is. After a couple years of working there and making contact with Mr. Greene again, Mr. Greene says, "You know, this policy is, premium is insured, and you can draw money from it." And that money that was drawn from that policy that was paid for by Mr. Greene through all these years, that's what started Linc's Tackle. He had enough money to put down to buy, it was actually a little grocery store, small area. I mean, it was probably no bigger than this room here. That's the original store of Linc's.

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