Densho Digital Archive
Japanese American Museum of San Jose Collection
Title: George Hanada Interview
Narrator: George Hanada
Interviewer: Stephen Fugita
Location: San Jose, California
Date: November 15, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-hgeorge-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

SF: So being in Japantown, was that really an advantage, or could you have located the business, say, in Willow Glen or some other place outside of Japantown?

GH: I know a few fellows that, that did well, not necessarily in Japantown, but then I think initially when we first started, the fact that we were here had a lot to do with the success of the business.

SF: Did you get help from other Japanese when you first started up?

GH: What?

SF: Did you get help from other Japanese when you first started up? Besides being customers, they were, the wholesalers that sold you the tires, or something like that? Did you deal mostly with other Japanese?

GH: No, not the, not the wholesalers, because the petroleum products we would get from the consignees or the distributors or whoever they were, and so the tires and all the accessories were all mostly companies that were owned by hakujins, yeah.

SF: Did you sense that the hakujins thought that dealing with Japanese was a good thing, that you guys were trustworthy or fair or easy to work with or anything like that?

GH: I think that they, they liked our business because we paid, I mean, we, I don't think we've ever ripped anybody off, you know.

SF: Did you face any discrimination when you started up your business from anybody?

GH: Serious, you mean?

SF: Well, it could be minor stuff, or any kind.

GH: Oh, you might have had some minor stuff, but I don't think we had anything serious. Nothing that I can put my finger on.

SF: Nobody withheld supplies from you or anything like that?

GH: No, no. The only problem we had with that was when we went to buy a house, wouldn't sell us a house. And we had our, like, most of the veterans had their certificate of eligibility, which meant that if there was a house available, that we could buy it, but even that didn't help. They just said, "Nope."

SF: So where did you eventually end up buying?

GH: Well, this fellow was a contractor that was building on, on Nineteenth Street. He had built, I think, four or five houses in that area, and he said he was a Mexican fellow, and he had no problems with selling it. "Any one you want," he says. And at that time, you could buy a house for fifteen, twenty thousand dollars. Not like...

SF: Yeah. What year was that?

GH: 1954, I guess.

SF: In the Japantown neighborhood, it was mostly Japanese in this area, because they couldn't buy houses in other areas, is that right, when you first came here?

GH: When they were buying houses, you mean?

SF: Uh-huh, in this area, in this neighborhood.

GH: Yeah. Well, there were a lot of people here before, and a lot of 'em had their homes already, and they just came back to their home. As far as buying homes in this particular area, I don't think there were that many. I mean, and I'm sure that they bought some, but lot of 'em bought in other areas also.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2004 Densho and The Japanese American Museum of San Jose. All Rights Reserved.