Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Taira Fukushima Interview
Narrator: Taira Fukushima
Interviewer: Kirk Peterson
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: August 9, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-ftaira-01

<Begin Segment 1>

KP: Today is August 9, 2011, we're at the Main Street Station Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, conducting an interview with Taira Fukushima. And we are here for the Manzanar reunion, the narrator, myself... or the interviewer is Kirk Peterson, and behind the camera we have Rose Masters, and Jeff Burton is also in the room as is Whitney Peterson. This interview is being conducted for the Manzanar National Historic site and will be archived at the site. And once again, do I have your permission to tape this interview?

TF: Yes.

KP: Thank you very much. I also wanted to tell the rest of the folks in the room, if a question comes up that you really need, you think needs to be asked, please feel free to interrupt me, just kind of find the lull in the conversation, then ask, because I can forget some of this stuff. And I think that's it for the technical aspects of what we need. So let's get started. And I will also ask you to spell things, because the person who transcribes this, who takes this tape and writes it up, may not be me, so... I will ask you...

TF: You'll have to cue me on all that.

KP: Yeah, I will ask you to spell. For example, could you please spell your name, first name?

TF: Taira, spelled T-A-I-R-A.

KP: And your last name?

TF: Fukushima, F like in Frank, U-K-U-S-H-I-M-A.

KP: And is it okay if I call you Taira?

TF: You could call me T.

KP: T, oh, that's right, we'll leave here. Thank you. So, T, where were you born?

TF: Los Angeles, California.

KP: And what was the date you were born?

TF: February 8, 1926.

KP: And what part of Los Angeles were you born?

TF: Oh, it was on the, what's known as Uptown in those days, but actually it was 1023 South Catalina Street in Los Angeles.

KP: And what do you know about your parents? Where did your father come from?

TF: Well, he came from Kumamoto, Japan.

KP: And could you spell Kumamoto?

TF: K-U-M-A-M-O-T-O.

KP: And do you know when he was born?

TF: He was born in 1881, but I have to look up the particulars.

KP: That's okay. Do you know what his family did in Japan?

TF: Well, more than likely they were farmers. Since... in the last forty years or so, some of the acquaintances looked over the koseki tohon, which is more or less the genealogy, and they said that we come from a samurai background, and that the name Taira was supposed to be Heikuro, because my father thought that was a little old fashioned. But someone in the family is supposed to have the name Taira, and that's all I know about that. But usually what happens is that when you hear the relatives, they said they left because they were so poor, they had to go elsewhere to make money.

KP: So what did your father do when he came to the United States when he arrived, do you know?

TF: All I know for sure is that he worked on the railroad. I think he went to Hawaii first and then came. But I know he worked on the railroad because he used to talk about it. And after that, all I know is that after I was born, he was the janitor that I saw infrequently.

KP: So do you know which railroad, and where he worked, and about the time that he came over?

TF: Well, when we had to look up some information, the Union Pacific Railroad had records of him working for the railroad, at least 1902, '03, '04, in Utah and Wyoming, just like he sort of mentioned to us, but at least officially we got the word.

Off camera: What did he do for the railroad?

TF: For the railroad?

Off camera: What work did he do for the railroad?

TF: I guess as low as the Orientals could do, I guess the only difference between him and the Chinese was that they had to do whatever they were told because he didn't have any, quote, experience or education.

Off camera: So maybe he built the railroad?

TF: No, he wouldn't be in that status. He worked on the railroad. At those times, I'm sure they were, helped make it.

KP: But also section work...

TF: That kind of stuff, I would think. However, I never questioned too much about it. One of the reasons is that he spoke a little bit, little English, and it's the English that he would learn, and I didn't speak Japanese because I'm not, I didn't take that too seriously. So our conversations were, you know, just a mixture of the languages.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

KP: So do you know when and how he met your mother?

TF: I've never really asked them. I know that my mother came from Kumamoto, the same place as he did, and that my language barrier with my mother is the same, because my mother didn't have much of an education, maybe just part of grammar school in those days.

KP: Do you know if it was an arranged marriage?

TF: I don't know, never asked. So it could be anything, but to me, those things weren't really important.

KP: And do you know how your father got to California, what brought him to California?

TF: Here again, when my mother died in 1953, a gentleman from northern Utah came to the house because he saw the name Fukushima, my mother dying, and the name Buntaro Fukushima, and he knew a Buntaro Fukushima when he worked on the railroad also. But he spoke English, so he was the, more the boss man or the recruiter or whatever you would call it. And he came over and they knew each other, and so he was the same one. And the only thing I can remember him saying is that he's surprised that he's still living because of the way he used to drink. He thought he'd be gone a long time ago. But his longevity is a little different, because technically he retired at the age of eighty-one.

KP: Your father?

TF: Yeah.

KP: And what was your father's name?

TF: Buntaro.

KP: Could you spell that?

TF: B-U-N-T-A-R-O.

KP: And your mother's name?

TF: Maru, M-A-R-U. Her maiden name is Tateyama, T-A-T-E-Y-A-M-A.

KP: So no real idea of how your parents met or how they got to California?

TF: Yeah. Well, I was never in a position to be that curious, and if I was, I wouldn't be able to get the right words across.

KP: So do you know about what time they got married? What was your oldest, you had brothers and sisters?

TF: Yeah, my sister is ninety years old, and so...

KP: And what was her name and what year was she born?

TF: Her name was Fumiko, F-U-M-I-K-O. And she's, since I'm eighty-five, she'll be ninety-one this year.

KP: She was born in 1920?

TF: If I'm '26, brother's '24, other brother's '22, she'd be '20.

KP: So your next brother that was born in 1922, what was his name?

TF: Hikaru, Jim. H-I-K-A-R-U, and Jim is James from when he was, took up Catholicism.

KP: And your next brother?

TF: Tadashi, T-A-D-A-S-H-I, no English name.

KP: And then you?

TF: My name is Taira, T-A-I-R-A, no middle name, but I've been called a lot of stuff, too. [Laughs]

KP: So your, only James got an Anglo name?

TF: Yes. He's the only one that's been Baptized.

KP: And when was he Baptized? A long time ago?

TF: Well, it was right after the war, or right before the war, because there was a Catholic priest in Manzanar that I got to know real well. I hate to tell you that when I was young, I guess I wasn't very attentive, because I just don't know those dates.

KP: That's fine.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So what are your earliest memories of Uptown Los Angeles? What do you remember about that?

TF: The earliest? Actually, you have to sort of pinpoint it because it's just isolated incidents where we would go to the zoo, Luna Park, I guess it is, in L.A. And about the only thing I could remember is my folks taking me there. And one time, all of a sudden I turn around, I can't find anybody, and I started crying, then somebody takes me to my parents fifteen feet away, you know, this kind of stuff. So I remember that.

KP: That's a pretty early memory.

TF: Those little things you remember. I guess I was always sort of scared without my mother or someone, because I remember one time I was sick in bed, and all of a sudden my mom was not around. So I remember jumping out of the bed, putting on my clothes, and going out looking for her. You know, this type of thing. So when you say what things do you remember, it has to be in terms of what's what, because the usual things, I guess it's usual and I don't remember those things as such, unless I'm reminded.

KP: What do you remember about your parents, your father? What kind of father was he?

TF: Oh, actually, he was, again, when you look at your parents from a child's eyes, they treat you good. But sometimes they get a little sticky, and all I know is that he used to always be gone by the time I wake up, because he seemed like he had to leave the house by six in the morning to go to work, and then he'd come home about five, and so we didn't see him that much, and since he was a janitor...

KP: Yes, what kind of work did he do?

TF: He was a janitor at two movie houses. One was the Playhouse on Seventh Street or whatever, and the other one was the Regency near Exposition Park, but all I remember is that as I grew older, sometimes I'd go help him do some of the cleaning and stuff. But life was a little different, because we didn't have a car. So when we went to the beach, we always had the neighbors invite us, you know. And so there wasn't anything really special. When I talked with my wife, they were farmers, and they had relatives right by the beach, and how they would go and do that, how they had relatives in Riverside where they were farmers, so there's an exchange of things, and we didn't have relatives. So we didn't share in on any of that kind of stuff. But in those days, it didn't mean anything to me because I didn't know anything about that.

KP: Were you close to any of your brothers or your sister at all? Do you remember being close to one of them?

TF: Well, I fought with them. [Laughs] In terms of being close, I'm not, I never was close with them like I am with my son. But in those days, I guess they put up with me as being the youngest one. Things were the same.

KP: And what do you remember about your mother?

TF: Well, she was always caring for me. In fact, I think I mentioned, I must have commented on her a lot because if her presence wasn't known, then I'd get kind of frightened I guess. Because no matter how sick I am, I'd rather go looking for her, type of thing. And so I think that's normal. In the older Japanese family, they weren't like the other families where you're always hugging and kissing and all that kind of stuff. Because I don't know if my father ever hugged me, but that didn't mean anything to me, because I didn't see anybody else hugging either. It's not the Oriental way, I guess. Nowadays it might be different, but we're talking in terms of how many years ago.

KP: Was she a good cook, and what kind of food did she make?

TF: Oh, well, actually, she was a good cook in the sense of what I like. But my father was a salt fanatic, and he used to salt everything. And so we had to put up with that, because what he says... here's an aside, they talk about high blood pressure and having salt, too much salt. I don't believe that, because I was raised on a salty diet, and then Japanese people pickle their vegetables, but a lot more salt. And so I think I was raised on salt, but my blood pressure is normal. However, I take medication for it. [Laughs]

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

KP: Did you... what kind of, were you involved, was your family involved in any community at all? Did you go to church?

TF: Well, They were more Buddhist, and that was the different part, because there was an Episcopalian church in our neighborhood that had a Japanese minister. And they had Boy Scouts and other activities. But you had to be a church member to do that, and since we were Buddhists, you couldn't participate in anything. And the Buddhist church, I guess the Bonsan, the priest, used to come around just on Sundays. And he speaks in Japanese or whatever language the Buddhists talked then, we don't know what the heck he's saying. And so you lose interest in all that. So I thought I was a, sort of a disadvantage to be raised as a Buddhist when the activities were all at the Christian church, which were, we were denied.

KP: Did your family celebrate any of the Japanese holidays?

TF: Oh, always had New Year's. New Year's was the big thing. All I remember is that before New Year's, though, after Christmas, we had to make sure we cleaned up everything so that we could start the New Year right. I remember that, where you had to do that. As far as any other times, there's always the birthdays. But they tell me that when I was young, I questioned my mother if she liked me, because I was born in February. And when you're poor, for your birthday, you can't get very much. So they used to get the food available, and it was these green apples. And when it was my brothers and sisters have their birthdays, it's watermelon season. And so I'm asking her, "Don't you like me?" because all I get is green apples, you know, and they tell me that. But it's this kind of stuff that occurs. The usual holidays we celebrated, even Thanksgiving. but in Thanksgiving again, it's one of those things where everybody has turkey, but I think ours must have been a chicken, because you cut it in small pieces, and there's six of you, and that's when my mother used to tell me how, when we had ice cream maybe once during the summer, how she didn't like ice cream. And that was great with me, because that means we get more.

But I learned a lot later, when my folks came to live with us, with my wife, when we got married, he lost his job at Seabrook Farms, and so my wife automatically told them, even though we were expecting our first child, that they're welcome to come stay with us, because she and I come from the same family stock, you might say, from Kumamoto, they're all about the same. So they came, and then my wife spoke Japanese real well, and my mother told her she loves ice cream. And so I put two and two together, you know. Parents don't want anything, especially if the kids want it. So these are the kind of stuff I learned later on in life.

KP: So you think the important lessons that you got from your parents is the value of family.

TF: The value of the family is most important, and you look after the kids. And if there's not enough, the kids get it, even if you have to tell them you don't like it, you know. But these are the kind of stuff, and it was difficult because I'm too stupid. I didn't learn the language good enough, and the benefit of that is that my wife spoke real well. But then the benefit of that is it stops there, because then I rely on her to do all of that kind of stuff. And so that's the way it went.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

KP: Back in your childhood, what grammar school did you go to?

TF: I went to Hobart. I think it was Hobart Boulevard, except it wasn't a boulevard at all. It was... I kind of liked that. They had a principal who came named L.A. Trimp, and he was a tall guy, and boy, he was... well, I don't think he was mean, but I know that he took the ruler to quite a few people, you know.

KP: To you?

TF: Not to me.

KP: So you were a good student then.

TF: Well, that's what your parents want you to do, is to be as good student, at least listen to what they say. Because you don't want to have a report go home that you were bad. Then you get scolded twice, because if you're bad at school, your parents don't go for that. So it was pretty good. But in those days, Mr. Trimp was real nice, at least to me, because at noon we'd have little ball games and stuff, and the kind of records he kept, at the end of the quarter or semester or whatever it is, he has his own tally as to who did what on the field, and seemed like I was always one of those who was awarded a nickel ice cream, you know. And so you got to like him for that.

KP: What was the ethnic makeup of your school? How many Japanese were there, how many other...

TF: Oh, well, the Japanese community was located in that area, but I never really looked at it in terms of that.

KP: You just had friends.

TF: Yeah, I mean, in those days, seems like you played with everyone. And I never distinguished anything like that. It was after I got to junior high school when you start noticing that ethnicity seemed like it played a role.

KP: And what junior high school was that?

TF: Oh, I went to Berendo. At that time, the word "Japs" and stuff, you start hearing, you know. And that's not the only thing, because our neighbor built a house there, and this neighbor family seemed like they were the richest one around, because they owned the Granville factory, or Granville area in Monrovia. And to show how rich they are, they came and they built a house, and they had one of these old Buicks, we used to call it a gangster car, because you would hang on this thing, and they wouldn't move with it, but you play like that. And the son had one of those blue, I guess, auburn Cords where you could have these chrome strip, the three stripes on the side. It was a fancy car. He wouldn't let us touch it, but it's the times. Not because we were Japanese or anything, it was that no kids around, you know.

KP: So you said that you did start noticing differences in what you could do in the community, being, because you were Japanese, you mentioned some of the activities that you couldn't do?

TF: Well, the thing about it is that I remember when we were just youngsters, we lived kind of close to Wilshire Boulevard, Olympic to Wilshire, you're familiar with L.A. Well, the Ambassador Hotel used to be there, and they used to have a little pond. And there's another fellow and I went there, we got, we made hooks out of the safety, little things that your mother has, and we tied a string to that, and we were at Westlake, or Ambassador, fishing with that thing, not catching anything, except the guy came and sort of kicked us out of there. But not because we were, not because we were poor or whatever, it's just that you're not supposed to be there.

KP: But you mentioned to me when we were doing the pre-interview, there were certain things you couldn't do like bowling or swimming and stuff like that.

TF: Oh, well, I was too young for bowling, but I hear that you couldn't bowl, that the American Bowling Congress didn't recognize Japanese at that time. I knew that we couldn't go swimming because the swimming pool said, "No Japs allowed." We could go to L.A. High School for swimming, but it's this kind of stuff. And pretty soon, I guess as you get older, you kind of sense this kind of stuff. It's just that sometimes it's not outright, other times you just feel... that's what I mean in terms of the vibration. You don't have to say anything, it's just that you kind of sense it.

KP: Did you attend Japanese language school?

TF: Yeah.

KP: How far did you get?

TF: Well, first of all, I hated it, mainly because you were supposed to go one hour after school. And gee, you know, you have to rush home and then rush in there, and I really didn't like it, because... but I showed anyway. But it was what all the families do because I think they go around and make sure that the parents do have the kids come. I know one time when my parents said something about they couldn't afford it, they said, "Send them for free." And so we had no choice. But I was a poor student, but then I married a gal who was a good student.

KP: So did your brothers and sister speak Japanese better?

TF: Well, they might have spoken it a little better than me. But I think as a group, our family were able to speak Japanese to our parents. But to carry on a conversation in Japanese with someone else would be, I think, carried it quite far. But I would think that that's true with a lot of the kids.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

KP: In junior high school, what were some of your, more favorite subjects in school? What did you like doing in school?

TF: Well, I went to Berendo, and since we lived a half a block away from it, I thought it was pretty good. I didn't... I don't think that we recall anything extraordinary there, other than the fact that after school, they used to have a coach there, you might say they left the place open 'til nine, so it was pretty good there.

KP: Doing sports?

TF: Well, you know, they have pick up games and everything else, where it was after school events. But in school it was just regular things. I guess it's just a general type of things because there's teachers you like and the teachers you didn't really care for. There was one doctor who was teaching there, insists that they call him Doctor, and therefore you get the idea you don't want to call him that and this kind of stuff. I didn't think it was anything unusual, other than the fact that you kind of get the feeling that there's more of an expression in terms of ethnicity, where someone mentioned you as being other than the group, that now you're a "Jap" or something like that, because I guess in grammar school, nobody had any fights. But in the junior high school, I guess I wasn't strong enough to get in a fight. But they could hear comments from others, and that was okay.

KP: What sports in particular did you like? When you were, after school pick up games...

TF: Well, I really wasn't much of an athlete, but I used to be a pitcher on the softball team. And so that was okay, because when you're a kid, if you're a pitcher, you're, quote, "one of the better ones," I think. Otherwise you're in the right field. [Laughs]

KP: That's where I was.

TF: Yeah. So it's just a matter of playing with whoever were there, and it seemed like there was always somebody older to tell you how. Although Gene Mauch went to the same junior high school.

KP: Who was that?

TF: Gene Mauch, he used to be in the majors. He coached also. I don't know if he was a big name, but he was a big name in junior high school because he played with the American Legion ball. And he was in the majors as, I think he was managing or coaching also. But he was one of the nice guys that got big name, but he still remembered us little guys.

KP: Any other stories you remember about that kind of north Los Angeles area while you were growing up before the war?

TF: All I know was that I used to go to the movie because there used to be the Victoria Theater there, and he used to hire us to distribute the pamphlets. And he gives you a route and you do it, and then I found out at that time that something so simple as that, people are different. Because some of the guys wouldn't deliver it. They act like they do and then they throw it away, but they get the passes. So I kind of thought that's terrible. But I didn't have enough guts to say anything about that, because my folks told me, "You're gonna have to trust people and you're gonna have to be trustworthy. So if you're going to promise to do something, you're expected to do that and not start fudging like that." And I noticed that in junior high school, there was a little more fudging of other aspects, too.

KP: Did you start high school in that area before you went to camp?

TF: Oh, yeah, see, now, that was the part that I was going to go, because high school, when my sister went to high school, they went to L.A. High School, which was about three miles down the road, and you take a bus. By the time I got to high school, I call it de facto segregation because the school boundaries are now shifted so that we had to go to John H. Francis Polytechnic High School, which is downtown-ish. And we had to take two buses, we had to transfer twice, and then walk another couple blocks just to get to school. And that school had a lot of Orientals, lot of minorities. And I didn't really fit there, because I hated the idea of having to transfer. And then when all we had to do was jump on the bus, go the other way, and it's one shot. So that's where it kind of gave me the idea that, at that time I didn't realize such things as de facto segregation, it kind of dawned on me that there's this kind of pattern around. It's just like where we're living, the reason we're living in this kind of area is because you aren't free to live elsewhere. And you learn these things as you grow up, though. And I think I mentioned that as I'm growing up in L.A., I really didn't like it. I'm not sure we were poor. I think if we were rich, I think I would have liked it. Because you can like anything if you're rich. [Laughs] Since we weren't rich, I can't tell you that side.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

KP: So December 7, 1941, do you remember what you were doing on that day?

TF: Oh, yeah, we were, we were playing a football game. Just all of us, and it was near the Western Boulevard where Charlie Chaplin was making his film The Great Dictator about that time. And that's nothing to do with anything other than the fact that it's sort of like an empty lot there. But when I heard about it, it didn't mean anything to me because didn't know what the heck was happening other than the fact that you hear "Japs" more. But it wasn't strange because I was beginning to hear that quite a lot. So the next thing I know, we had to go to school. And you get this feeling that you shouldn't be there, it's this kind of thing. There was no physical harm, but I'd be ready to run, because the times were a little different.

KP: And how did it affect your family?

TF: Well, all of the people got fired.

KP: And who would that be?

TF: My father, my sister and brother, older brother. And thinking back, I can't remember what they were doing except my father was a janitor. He was working at two theaters, and he got laid off from both. But then I think a couple weeks later, the little one rehired him because, I guess they couldn't find anybody. But they were pretty good.

KP: So was your brother old enough to be of military age at that time?

TF: Oh, let's see. I must have been fifteen or sixteen, so my other brother would be about seventeen... he'd be nineteen or so, out of high school. And so since they were broke, well, without a job, when the government offered to hire people to help build Manzanar, he jumped at the chance. Because they were going to pay ninety dollars or something a month. And so he went with whomever, and they went to Manzanar. And so the next thing we know, a guy comes to the door Friday evening at eight and said the family has to be at the train station at eight o'clock Monday morning, because we're going to be leaving. And you could only take what you can carry. We didn't know anything about it. They said they had this thing posted where the Orientals are going to get moved anyway, but I never seen one of those. You could tell I wasn't very astute.

All I know is that this thing happened, and the next thing I know is that... next day is Saturday, and my father is doing whatever, and being the youngest, I guess they didn't share too much with me because I don't remember anything other than the fact that the word must have spread out a lot, because some of the friendly neighbors were on our side of the street. But the ones across the street we didn't know too much. And they were coming to the house and digging up the garden and the rose bushes and stuff. And I kind of wondered, gee, how did they find out so fast? Because a lot of our friends didn't even know that. And so they were doing that, and I guess they didn't think anything about it because we didn't own the place. If you're renting, all the plants belong to somebody else. But that kind of stuff happened. And then there was a few people that came over to say how much they'd give for the furnishings and all that, because everybody knew you can only take what you can carry. And being poor, we don't have any suitcases or anything.

And my father got a piece of canvas, and so when we left, we stuck all the bedding and clothes and all that and wrapped it up, and that's what we took. But I know that there was one guy that came and offered fifteen dollars for the furnishings and whatever, and to my father, you either accept that or else they're going to take it anyway because you can't take it with you. And I don't know if he gave in to those guys coming or maybe he left it for the owner of the house, because he could get more from the furnishings and everything. And all I remember about that episode was that I told my parents, "Oh, we better go say goodbye to Mr. Swanson." And then they tell me, "He's not Mr. Swanson, his name is Swan." And the honorific that the Japanese put on people, they call him "Swan-san." And to me, it's "Swanson." And so that part I never asked again with the language barrier, if they just decided to leave it with Mr. Swan.

KP: And who was Mr. Swan?

TF: He's the owner of the place. But he was having a rough time, too, because when the house leaked, he used go up there and put the California license plates on there to stop the leak. And so times were hard for everybody. But then for the people to come and start digging up the garden, I thought, was wrong. But at my age, I didn't think too much about it because I didn't understand people. Because they were the ones that we hardly ever said hi to, because they're across the street. The only one I used to say hi to was a Mexican family who was across the street. And we had to be careful because they might have taught us bad words instead of good words. [Laughs] You know, that kind of stuff.

KP: So when your family packed up to leave, and you had your big bundle of canvas, you're famous for that, right?

TF: Well, we're famous to the extent that when this guy told us eight o'clock Monday morning, he never told us how we're going to get there. And so I'm sure my father asked our neighbor, who was a gardener, had a pickup truck.

KP: And where were you supposed to go?

TF: We were supposed to go to the Union Station downtown. But they never told us how we're going to get there or what, and you couldn't do anything because there's a curfew between seven and seven where you couldn't get out of the house. And so he, our next door neighbor was a Japanese guy, was a gardener, helped carry this thing and took us down to Union Station. And as we were at the Union Station, we find out there's a boxcar where people are taking their suitcase and stuff, and here we are, my brother and me, with this great big bundle, and carried it to the thing. And next day in the L.A. Times, section B, there's this picture of this big bundle being loaded onto the boxcar. And the high school people somehow found out that it was us, and put it in the high school paper. So it became kind of popular. And after we visited the Smithsonian, we found out that picture is in the Smithsonian also, and that's it. Where'd you get it?

KP: You want to hold it up to the camera?

TF: [Laughs]

KP: So you're in the back there.

TF: I'm in the back. I don't think you can see me, my brother's up here, you should be able to see his hand, but my dad is... gee, without my glasses...

KP: Okay, that's okay, you don't need to put 'em on. I'll have you actually mark this picture when you're done so you can show who your family are.

TF: And then this other fellow, their family moved into Block 1-1, that's Block 5, Building 1, Apartment 1, but they made the apartment 1 the block office, so they had to move. And the guy that's picture is my age, in the same class as I am, but he never came to our annual meetings like right now. However, his younger brother did. I didn't know him at the time, but he came up and introduced me a long time ago, and so he's a substitute. And so it's just one of those things. Some of those pictures are pictures of people I remember seeing in camp, but I can't identify them by name.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

KP: So the day you left, do you know what day that was?

TF: Oh, yeah. Well, see, I say Friday night at eight, the guy comes over and says, "Monday morning at eight," well, Monday morning is April 1st, that's April Fool's Day. I'm not sure whatever that means, but it was a good trip. Because we get in there, and everybody's polite to you. You know, there's sentries and all that, they kind of make it look like the sentries are keeping you from running away or something, but there was nothing like that. My only regret is that when we're in there, they were bringing milk and stuff around, and as usual, by instruction, I refused. Because my parents always said you don't accept things for free, you either pay for it or you don't... and therefore, even though I could have used it, no. So that's about the only thing I remember about the trip.

But once we get there, we were, get shifted into buses, and then we go to Manzanar, and it's getting real dark. And I remember we were getting help going to our building. I remember falling into this great big hole, because it's dark and you can't see, and they're still building the place. These were holes where they were putting the water line. And so that's the kind of stuff it was. And then I find out that the Bainbridge people from Washington came early that day, and then they occupied Block 3. And our people occupied 4, 5 and 6. But to tell you the truth, I think 5 and 6 were the best of them because that first morning, I woke up, April 2nd, I go outside, and I see this, the most beautiful thing I ever saw. A white apple tree in full bloom. I never saw anything like that. That was the first time I saw something so beautiful like that. And then when you look around, Manzanar is flat, and then the firebreak between 4 and 5 starts rising a little bit, and then 5 and 6 goes out. And so we had apple and pear trees in our area, where everything below that didn't have. And so it was really a nice sight. I thought everything was kind of nice.

In fact, as long as you didn't look at the fact that there was a couple with a child that we were in the same room with, so that there would be eight of us in this room. But then they were able to get them their own place later on. And it seemed like they had a collection of wood that had knotholes in it, because every piece had a knothole. and you look around, and I kind of thought, "Oh, times are tough right now." So people made comments about those things, but there was, it didn't mean that much, a little more difficult. It's just that when the wind blew, the dust would come through the hole. Without plasterboard in the ceiling, it was hotter than hot during the day, and cold in the evening. But they took care of all that.

And one of the things I enjoyed more than anything is that since we didn't know anybody before the war, they're all part of the families that related to someone who volunteered. Because when they volunteered at ninety dollars a month or so, when they got there, they told 'em the GIs were only making twenty-one dollars a month, so they're going to only make eight dollars a month, take it or leave it. If you don't want to work, you don't have to, but you can't leave. And so most of them didn't work. And the word I heard later on is that it wasn't possible for them to work because the white guys working didn't want anybody who didn't know what they were doing helping them out anyway. So I don't think anybody talked about that, other than the fact that that was the reason we went there. And since we didn't know each other, being kids, you all get to know each other. And during the first two weeks, we were the only ones there, and they had the porta-potties and the...

KP: How did those work?

TF: Those are the portable latrines, and they had it at the end of each building. And for some reason, when we were out there, the guard that was coming by there, they weren't afraid of us. We weren't afraid of them, we didn't know anything about it. And I don't know if I should mention this, but we got so we were talking to each other. In fact, we spent a good part of the evening, after it gets a little dark, where he sits down and we're shooting the breeze, with the idea that, to make sure we're keeping an eye on both ends of the road. If you see a white light or a car coming, you got to let him know so he could get up and walk, you know. And so it worked out pretty good. We used to hear different stories about the sentries and all that, but they were no different than us, other than the fact that the one that was there most of the time said he was from the Alaskan campaign, and, you know, they were there. So it was pretty good. They had guard towers there, but we didn't really notice anything about it. We had a good relationship.

KP: So when you first showed up, what was the food like?

TF: Oh. well, for the first two weeks, it was all canned food. And I don't touch Vienna sausage, apple butter, and a few things like that, ever. Because that's all you had. And, of course, when you're prisoners, you have no choice. And they had army mess kits for utensils. And I remember even when they opened up with fresh food, we used to have diarrhea outbreaks. Well, it's not really outbreak, because lot of times you're trying to leave the mess hall, you had to run because the diarrhea was a problem, until they found out the kitchen staff has to rinse the thing better. And so after that, it wasn't a problem.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

KP: This is tape two of a continuing interview with Taira Fukushima. And we just got into Manzanar, food's not good for the first couple of weeks, there's outbreak of disease. What else do you remember about those first two weeks?

TF: Well, the first two weeks was really, just get used to the different people there, and it's surprising how you connect so easily with people in the same situation. That even today, we look, we who lived in Block 5, looked at that as a unique event. In fact, we sort of brag about how Block 5 is the center of the universe. [Laughs] This is for, off to aside, but a couple years ago, there was a fellow that moved to Las Vegas and found out that they were having a Manzanar reunion. And so he came to the thing and he said because he lived in Block 5, he'd go to table 5 to see if there's anyone he knows. And at that point, Seigo (Yoshinaga) and I were at that table, and he said who he was, couldn't remember who he was until he said his family, his sisters who were older than him. And then we realized that, yeah, he's the same fellow that we knew as a youngster. And it was surprising how we got to know each other, because by coincidence, he just came to table 5 because of Block 5. And now he comes all the time. And I brought a picture of us in Block 5, the adult male with young kids all got together for a picture once. I don't know where, how, why, or who took the picture, but there it was. And I pointed out the picture and said, "That should be him," and it is. But when you took at the two, you'd never put 'em together. And it's this kind of experience that, it's kind of fun now. In fact, there's a gal who said she lived in Block 5, Building 2, Apartment 4, but she didn't recognize Seigo who has been coming all the time doing a lot of the background work. And so I brought the picture, and then he pointed it out to me. And I asked her, "You're in Block 5?" And she said, well, she went to school with this guy's older sister, you know, this one who came a few years go. And so I said, "I brought this picture of Block 5 kids, and I'm going to show her tonight to see if she recalls any of the youngsters." Because having this picture seems important. Because in this picture, there's this one kid who we used to call Blackie. And he's the same age as this fellow, and he calls him Eddie. I said, "How come you don't call him Blackie?" And he said he didn't want to get beat up. [Laughs] We have a good time reminiscing that way.

KP: You also mentioned when we were doing the pre-interview about, you said there were some gangs in Manzanar?

TF: Oh, well...

KP: What were you aware of?

TF: I'm sure there were gangs outside of camp with members who came in. And there was other people who came from certain locales who came as a group in those areas, and so it made it so you had to watch out for them because as a group, they were a lot different than if they were individuals. And we heard of certain other groupings in terms of loose-fitting gang words, you could say they're a part of. Rather than say, oh, it's just that it could have got worse other than the adults were trying to diffuse it, especially the high school coach who tried to make sure that there'd be none of this business because we're all caught in the same boat. Because if you start having a fight in there, you have no place to go. And so there wasn't a real big difficulty there.

KP: Back into your block and the food, you say after two weeks you started getting fresh food?

TF: Oh, yeah, we started getting fresh food. and I'm sure that... well, I'm not sure. It's just that us teens, being the, growing up, we'd help as people would come in, we'd kind of help carry their stuff and show 'em the different places. And then you always get to eat, so we used to eat. And pretty soon it got so even when they weren't coming in, we might go to three mess halls for lunch. Nobody checks you out, and nobody knows who you're from or whether you're supposed to be there. And so we used to go to one and eat, and go to another one, and go to another one. But that didn't last for a long time. But we used to... not all, us, quote, the "Nisei ones," the ones that were educated in Japan, I think listened to their parents a little more and ate family-style. Whereas us educated here, I guess were more ragamuffins, that we ate amongst ourselves and didn't eat with the family, to the chagrin of our parents, I'm sure.

KP: So you were talking about the Kibei eating with their families?

TF: Yeah, usually. And you know, this is the kind of stuff that goes.

KP: Did you have a lot of Kibei in your block?

TF: Oh, yeah. Well, Kibei is used in the sense that they got their education back there. And I use the word loosely because my best friend's father died, and so his mother, they had a chop suey place. And the mother took the two boys and went to Japan. And when the... they must have known that the war was coming because she decided to send the boys back. And so they came back and it was a lucky thing, because the next boat came was the last boat. Because times were getting kind of tense, I guess, both sides. But it came to Los Angeles, it wouldn't unload. It turned around and went back to Japan, so the boat that my friends came back was the last boat. So they were lucky, so I have my friend right now. He doesn't come to these things, but it's one of those things where his wife is Block 5. When I talk about Manzanar, it's Block 5, or wish everybody were Block 5.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

KP: Let's get back to Manzanar. You said that... well, talking about school. You went to high school in Manzanar.

TF: Oh, yeah.

KP: And you talked about your teacher?

TF: The difficulty with the school is that I'm not the best student. When I was in L.A., I went to John H. Francis High School, which I had to transfer a lot. And here it was kind of difficult. In fact, it wasn't in the nice part of town compared with L.A. High School. And you hear a little more, at that time I remember the Okies must have been having trouble, because when I was walking down the street you'd hear a lot of yelling about Okies and stuff at that time. All I know from the movie is that they had a tough time. But that was the schooling there. At Manzanar, they didn't have school, so in '42, they asked for volunteers to go to Idaho for sugar beets and potatoes. And so a few of us from Block 5 volunteered to go for that September and October, harvest. That was the best thing I ever did, because I was too dumb to know that the weather in L.A. and the weather in Idaho is not the same. And all I had was city shoes, and I'm in the sugar beet and things, I didn't have any boots or anything. And so, you know, first thing you kind of do is I have to go buy boots. And then I find out that you can't say too much, because the farmers, they say they average fourteen, sixteen tons to an acre, and yet ours ended up with carrots, just eight tons per acre. So you learn that what is said and what is done is not the same thing. But at least I was able to buy a hotplate. It's not one of the hotplates, but it's a coil thing where at least when I brought it home and gave it to my mom, it brought a sense of civility, because they could at least now have hot tea. Whereas without that, you're sunk.

And only -- I'm going to digress a minute -- there was some pictures by Ansel Adams that was available. And when I looked at that, I said, "This doesn't look like Manzanar to me." And I told my best friend, "Hey, do you remember Manzanar like this?" And I told him and he said that picture, which is not typical, and that was fixed up, was his older sister. And they knew people from Los Angeles, who used to ship 'em stuff, because they were the same age. And so they made 'em look like it was a pretty nice apartment. And since they had that, they had the, what looks like the average place. And so I thought I'd mention that everything in a picture is not necessarily true.

KP: Thank you for that. That's a real important piece for us when we reproduce some of the barracks and stuff. So thank you for adding that. So you went up to Idaho?

TF: Oh, yeah.

KP: What was it like being, you'd never been out of Los Angeles. Had you ever been out of Los Angeles?

TF: No. All I know is that it was cold and it was muddy and if you're on a farm, you've got to be prepared for it. And therefore, that was a lesson learned. But it was over enough so that we went back home. But in '43, they wanted people again. So the Japanese police chief in Manzanar, they lived in Block 5. Well, his son and I went to Idaho again. This time we went to work for a farmer in Manan. And helping him out and doing whatever, and that's when we had to get the food stamps and whatever. But I found out on the farm you don't really need those things. Because if you need a piece of meat, you tell the butcher and he gives it to you. If you need stamps, you take it out of here type of thing. And so it was pretty good. And then I decided that, well, I'll stay there and try going to Idaho Falls High School. And so I enrolled there, but then after a week I found it was kind of too hard trying to go to school, work, trying to pay for your lodging and everything. So I asked the representative... oh, I didn't know if you know that they had representatives looking out for us.

KP: Tell us about that.

TF: Well, all I know is that they kind of checked up on us to kind of see how we're doing. And when we're going to do anything, we just had to let them know. I didn't know we were supposed to, it's just that it's just a courtesy. And so I informed them that I think I'd better go back home, I called it home, which was Manzanar. And he arranged it so I could go back to Manzanar. So I got back there in October, and I went to school from there. So I find myself at a disadvantage, because I was a senior just from October through June. And I didn't meet a lot of people there. So at these reunions I have to tell them that, "I'm meeting you for the first time." And some of them I thought I knew. One fellow, I said, "Gee, I think I know you from back then," and he said, "I don't know you." And so that was the end of that. And some others would come up to me and I can't really remember them, but at least I act like I'm trying to think. But the next year, you know 'em. And so everything works out fine. These reunions are the best thing we ever had, at least I think so.

KP: Let's go back into Manzanar, and what did your father do? Did he work when he was in camp?

TF: Yeah.

KP: What did he do?

TF: As far as I know, I think he was a janitor again. And I don't think everybody held it against him. All I know is that the people that are looked down on are butchers and... you know, they have a certain name for that. And they're restricted in their occupation as to what they can do. And I guess being a janitor isn't one of them, because nobody ever said anything to me, and they didn't do anything about it. But we had an in-law who was a butcher, and he did real well. But at least it was after the war, and he lived in Los Angeles, so everything was okay. But there's these little things that...

KP: Did your brother and sister work in camp, or your brothers?

TF: Oh, my sister worked at the Free Press, which was the newspaper. And I don't know what she did after she got married because I was in the service then.

KP: She got married in camp?

TF: Uh-huh. In fact, she married someone who might be considered a Kibei. Because after the war, he volunteered to serve as an interpreter at the war crimes trial. Because if you get your education there, you can speak the stuff really good. And that, it's just one of those things where that's what happened. And so it's...

KP: Did your sister go to Japan?

TF: Oh, no. She was at, she stayed back, because it was sort of a two-year type of thing. And it was one of those things where you're sort of, quote, "duty bound," because even though you're a, quote, Kibei, that doesn't mean your loyalty's over there, it's just that you got your training there. But then you can't generalize it, because a lot of the Kibeis I know would be rooting for them more than us. So you had to sort of watch out.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

KP: Speaking of watching out, the Manzanar, the so-called "Manzanar Riot," do you remember that night?

TF: Oh, well, see, in terms of politics, when you're just a youngster, you don't really know. But then I did find out that on the night that it occurred, we were watching a movie in Block 22 mess hall. And then all of a sudden, the lights go on, and there's a few guys rushing over, and to my right, they started beating a guy up, and then they run away, you know. "What the heck's going on?" And then by the time I get home, I hear there's a big to-do down at the gate, that's where the jail is also. And there was only one guy that was habitually in jail, so he used to have the walk of the jail. They only have to lock him up at night. But you can't keep him there all the time, there's no place to go, and you can get out of the jail, but you still have to get out of the building, then you still have to get out of the gates and everything. So everybody's safe. But I saw all of that, and I just went to bed. But I do know that there was a lot of commotion because the army came to Block 5 and picked up a family. The family was, you know Judge Aiso? His family was in Block 5. And I know the army came and moved them out.

KP: How do you spell the last name?

TF: A-I-S-O. He was a judge. He became a judge here. In fact, I think he was one of the big wheels at the language school. But anyway, his family was there, and they moved... the army knows who they were going to be protecting, and it's in Block 5, they were the important ones. And the next thing I know, they had a couple guys shot. And I kind of didn't think too much of it, because I expected that it was December 7th that it occurred, as far as I remember. And things were coming to a head then, because they used to have a camouflage net place. And the government pulled a lot of fancy stuff, but when you started, it took you forever to finish one. So they said, "Finish two, you could go home," because it seemed like it takes a half a day to make one, because it's a big thing. And then pretty soon you get fast enough, then they said, they add more and they add more, and pretty soon it seemed like it was just a game. And I guess some of the people there, the guys who so-called stir up the riots, didn't like that. And I guess some of these people were considered to be, quote, insiders, because people who would sort the mail could see who gets certain government mail. I think these are the kinds of things that I don't know, I think about, but somebody's been checking up, because they knew who they were going after and this kind of thing. So to me, personally, I guess I'm too young and too stupid to really know.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

KP: Let's go back to your high school a little bit. You mentioned when we were doing the pre-interview, you were talking about some of the teachers that you particularly liked?

TF: Oh, in the camp? Oh, well, I thought they were all pretty good. Mr. Frizzell, (Lou) Frizzell, I think was a recent graduate, I think from UCLA. But I think he was the most popular with the kids, because he taught drama and music, and he wrote an operetta which was being put on. He was, after the war he was pretty good, too.

KP: You didn't have him for a teacher, though.

TF: No. I wasn't in on all that good stuff. But I liked Mr. Harold Rogers, who taught French, and being the student that I am, there was two of us who really took to French. We didn't take it like real studious students, but he treated us real nice. And...

KP: He had another language skill, too, didn't he?

TF: He spoke Japanese, and I think he taught Japanese at the University of Colorado. And so he went back there. At least he wrote me a few letters afterwards. But my favorite was Janet Goldberg. I never knew where she came from, but when I came back from Idaho, my good friend told me, "Take journalism." And so I did, and I also happened to take Senior Problems with her. Now, in journalism, it was kind of nice because I'd get there and she tells me, she's going to make me responsible for the senior class pictures, so go ahead and do it. See, my difficulty there is that, when she told me, I said okay, and so I devised a certain way to get the things done, get the pictures done. And after it's all over, I find out there was someone else assigned to the same thing that I didn't even know about. And so I don't know how she felt about it. But she was one personality where everything was really working nice that way. But then Senior Problems, where she talks about our rights, civil rights, I never thought we had rights. I always thought that everybody had rights, whatever they were. But that wasn't the same kind we had, because we were already stuck in there. The army lies to you, and they do whatever they want to do. And so I thought I was a pretty nice guy, but at one of the reunions, the gal behind me said, she was sitting behind me, and she said I was always arguing. But she never held it against me. At least in journalism I was an entirely different person. And so I kind of thought that pretty nice that she would at least take, quote, "crap from the students" who don't seem to understand. But I really didn't mean to give her a bad time, it's just that it was kind of hard to believe we had rights. Because when we were in L.A., I didn't think we had any rights. Nobody said we had any rights, and therefore I didn't know what rights we had, other than being told you're not wanted, or you can't do this, you can't do that. It's different when... you know, like when I was a soldier on the train, the guy would say, "Soldier, you can have this seat." Me? You get that. And in Reno when I'm going home from camp, just before going overseas, the bus driver said, "Soldier, you get to go on first." And it changes all the time, depending on what the situation is. So in camp, it's just a lesson I learned. That even though I didn't think I was that [inaudible], somebody says, "Yeah, you were." I don't know.

KP: Maybe Ms. Goldberg enjoyed someone who was thinking and questioning.

TF: Well, I always wanted to find out what happened to her, but nobody knows. Because I would have told her that, "Thanks for putting up with my innocent but maybe cantankerous position."

KP: Well, maybe if someone hears this interview someplace, they will hear that.

TF: Because you make a lot of friends that way, and I don't think I ever mentioned this thing. But when I went to camp and this picture came out, I received a letter from a teacher, at least I think, who was from the high school I went to. But I think she was the teacher who took care of the Japanese students, because there was a lot of American-born and a lot of, from the old country, and I think she took care of that. Because she's writing me, giving me encouragement and stuff, and I don't want to ask who she is, because I never met her. And yet she writes and encourages me, and this went on. And it was, you know, not continuous, but occasionally. And by the time I married, I'm telling my wife this is from, I think, the teacher. And then it got to be Christmastime, and then one year it came back "deceased." And so I knew that she retired and moved to Paradise, so I wrote to the Paradise office there to see if the cemetery has any record of the burial there. But they had no record, so we weren't able to go there and say goodbye.

KP: You think she was a high school teacher you had in Los Angeles?

TF: I think that's what it is.

KP: And you said after the movie came out, you said there was something about a movie or something that came out that she started writing you?

TF: Oh, that picture of us with the bag. The high school identified it as us, and so I think that's how it came about. And these are some of the kinds of things that you start regretting that you wish you did more. The least I could have done was check to make sure. But I remember her name, and being old as I am, I have this tendency to forget. And then a lot of times it comes up like that. Like right now, it's Ethel Swaine. She's one of those that I won't remember because she's always been supporting me. And I think she was the counselor that sort of helped that people. I don't know if I mentioned this to you, but through my life, all eighty-five years, as I look back, every time I turn around, I have encouragement and support, no matter where it was, except in camp. Do I dare tell you?

KP: Statutes of limitations up, you can tell us.

TF: Pardon me?

KP: The statutes of limitation's up, you can you tell us.

TF: Oh, okay.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TF: Well, when I came back and entered school...

KP: This was after going to Idaho?

TF: Yeah, after Idaho, and now I'm in the class of '44, I don't know for what reason, but I get called into this room. And Mrs. Busey, normally they sit down, you know. But she don't even say sit down or anything. She said, "Better not even think about going to college. You'll never make it." And I'm wondering, "So what?" It's one of those things where when you're poor, at least when you're Japanese, you're sort of raised to help support the family. And when you're poor, I never think about college. I think about going to work. In L.A., I delivered the LA Times a little bit. And the Daily News, Manchester Boulding used to be the publisher, and nobody knew that I was scared of the dark. And in the early morning, you go out and do it, but any money I make, I gave it to my parents. And this is the way things are, you know. And so with her telling me that, it didn't mean beans. But fortunately though, after I get out of the 442, I come home with the knowledge that, hey, you get four years of college free for the GI Bill. And that's the first time I realized that I might even go to college. And so I get home, and the first thing I do is open up the Philadelphia paper, because this is in Bridgton. My folks were offered a job at Seabrook Farms where they have the frozen food. And there's an article there that says Lincoln Prep School getting high school credits. And you go there and take four high school credits, and if you pass it, Pennsylvania gives you the credits. So I decided I'd go there. And in three months, I take the exam, and I got four high school credits. So I applied at Drake University. I don't know why it's Drake, it's just that I head of Drake. And so they accepted me. And everything seemed like it fits in, because when I went in to the army, I asked the government to take ten dollars a month out of my paycheck to send to my mother. And so, this is just the Japanese way of contributing to the welfare of the family.

And after I got invited to go to Drake, my brother decided that -- he was in Seabrook also -- he'd drive me to Chicago where I could then pick the Rock Island Rocket and take the train to Des Moines. And so I'm ready to leave. [Cries] But they handed me this envelope, and it's got over three hundred dollars. She just saved it for me. That's one of those things that I'll never forget. Because she knew I could use the money to go to college, and she saved everything I sent her just for this purpose. And my brother's going to drive me, so I'll get to the school easier. Then I was able to get there, only he tells me that when he got back to his car, somebody broke into the trunk and robbed him in Chicago. Well, anyway, all of this little things, they happen for the good. And so it seemed like every time I turn around, life has been great, because you get support and encouragement. I don't know if I talked to you about, like the army.

KP: Before we get to the army, so did you graduate high school at Manzanar?

TF: Yeah.

KP: Why did you take the... you needed more college prep credits to go to the university?

TF: See, I never thought about college.

KP: So you didn't have the college...

TF: So all of my friends take the college prep school. Like at Poly I was sort of taking the commercial background, where Polytechnic, they have a lot of trades that you could learn, so when you get out, at least you know what you're going to do, at least thinking you're going to do. And so doing this other way, it gives high school credits only. Drake was able to say okay. But that was the first time I even gave it a thought.

KP: And what did you get your... did you get your degree in college?

TF: Oh, well, I went to Drake for a year, and then I transferred to the University of Utah, and then I got my degree in microbiology, because in the army, that was where my interests went. Although I have to kind of tell you this story, how I even got there. Because everything seemed like it was a dream/nightmare type of situation, and everything worked out. Somebody up there is looking out for me, as if this story has already been written and I'm just acting the part, because everything seemed to work out as if it was written. And so I feel blessed in that fashion. The reason I didn't want to be interviewed before, I had nothing to tell you all because the word I was hearing was how terrible the camps were. And I try to tell everybody, gee, most of us in the class of '44 didn't feel like that.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

KP: Well, let's talk about your folks. You said they went to Seabrook Farms, how did that come about and when did that happen?

TF: After I went into the army and I was in Italy, I got word from my parents that they were starting to close the camps, and that they were offered a job at Seabrook Farms. And you know, he doesn't have any skills, so they were willing to take them. And so my mother thought, "Gee, that'd be pretty good," because if they're on the East Coast, they'll be closer when I come home. So they decided to do that. But then the sad part was, with everybody leaving, who's going to take care of the dog?

KP: That's right, we forgot about the dog. That was the... tell us where the dog came from.

TF: Oh, the dog? Well, one of things happened is that, when my brother first went there, he befriended a stray or abandoned dog. Because they didn't bring it in, it's just, people always throw animals away for some reason. But he befriended her. And so after we were called up, next thing you know, it belongs to my mother. I say my mother because when you're a teenager, you don't have anything other than, something else to do than watch a dog. But then that's how she came to live with us. And so I think we were one of the few houses where a dog actually lived inside. She was, he called her Dutchess, so we left her with that name. But she was a unique dog, because when she was outside and wants to come in, she'd scratch the door. And when you could hear it, she could come in. And yet when she wants to go outside, she points at it as a pointer would, and just stay like that. And she don't make any noise, so you don't know what she's doing. So once you spot her, then you could open the door for her, but she was that way. And my mom used to take care of her.

KP: You also mentioned that when there were other dogs in camp, then your mom --

TF: Oh, so when they're in heat, the little old lady, four-foot-ten-inches tall, would be leading the dog with a stick, and four or five dogs trailing. And so that's a sight you would see. And I don't know where the other dogs came from, but I guess they weren't living in the house of anybody. But that was one thing that they... it was easy to have a dog, because all you ask is the kitchen, and there's enough food to give to 'em. And since I had this hotplate that I gave 'em, they were able to heat some of the things also. So life was actually bearable there, because when you're poor, you don't worry about this kind of stuff. In fact, when I came back from my training ready to go overseas, it was my birthday. And they didn't have anything, and so she opened a can of peaches and we had that, you know. The best thing I could remember. And I also wanted to go visit the Catholic priest because I went through the things with him, and I kind of wanted to say goodbye. And I was going to go, and Dutchess wanted to go also. And it's in January, and I figure, oh, what the heck, I'll take her. And so we go, and Block 5 is in one corner, and so the church was on the other end, you know, sort of like the hypotenuse. And so we get there, and I tell her to sit down by the tree, and I go inside, and I talked to the Father, and he wanted to baptize me because I'm going overseas and I might get killed. And I told him, "I just can't be baptized for that reason. That's the worst reason I could think of to get baptized, so I'm going to decline." Then after a while, I went out another door, and almost reached home and realized, oh, Dutchess, I forgot about her. And so I walked all the way back there, and there she was, patiently waiting for me. And then when I called her, she perks up and comes running to me, and we marched home quite happy. I don't know the significance of that, but it seems like it's always part of my life that loyalty is sort of an important thing.

KP: So when your parents went to Seabrook, the problem was...

TF: The problem was what are they going to do? Because everybody they knew was leaving, and they're not going to abandon her. And so they decided that they're going to ask a veterinarian to put her to sleep. And when I heard that, I wrote back and told them, "I think that's the best thing we can do, because at least she had time with a loving family." And so they had the veterinarian put her to sleep. But that made it hard, because after my son grew up and my folks came to stay with us, they didn't like the idea of us having any animals because, you know, it's too hard getting rid of them. So everything played on the same piano you might say. It's sort of like my life, the same piano is playing. I think like I'm just going through the motions, because things have worked out so well for me.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

KP: So which of your brothers went into the military?

TF: My oldest brother went into the military with me.

KP: At the same time?

TF: Well, yeah. Like my older brother just above me, we were in L.A., and they were making something, and somebody was cutting the burlap, and cutting upwards, you know. And then my brother was looking like that, and then the knife went right into his eye from the other guy. And so he lost his eye. And so when the selective service told us, "Don't leave camp because," us seniors, because we're gonna get drafted, we stayed in, and then all of a sudden, all three of us got letters to report. And then he was 4-F because, you know, he couldn't serve, so my older brother and I were sworn in on July 15th. And that...

KP: 1944?

TF: '44. And then we were called into active duty September 15th. And since we can't go to Fort McArthur, because we got kicked out of L.A., they sent us to Utah. And so we met with a bunch of the other Japanese from Utah, and my brother and them went to Blanding, and some of us went to Hood. In fact, one of the graduating students and I was together all the way through. And so when you come right down to it, at Fort Meade, this fellow student that I went through with, caught measles. So he didn't go to the 442 with us, but then my brother and I went there. And I don't know if I mentioned, or even if I should, but when we were in the 442, I got infantry training. We were known as "cannon fodder." That means the cannons are going to be fed us, or we're going to be fed to the cannons. But that's what you do, talk about when you have a fighting outfit. But then we were happy to be there together, and then the truck comes in, and first three guys are medics. And that's Fukushima, Fukushima, and Fukuyama. That's my brother, me, and another fellow. And I guess because I was the smaller of the two, the other two were made litter bearers and sent to Company L. And me, they said I'm going to be a medic for M Company. And at that time, I don't know what's going on, other than the fact that once I got there, I spot this guy here with an armband, and I tell him, "I'm new, I don't know what I'm supposed to do." And he had a bag, "This is the bag that you carry." I said, "I don't even know what's in there." So he opens it up, and then he tells me, "The most important thing is this is morphine. If a guy gets hurt and is hurting, you give him half of it. And if he's hurting in ten more minutes, give him the other half." Later on I'm saying, "Yeah, but what if he's still hurting?" He says, "Forget it. You're going to be too busy that you're going to have to have somebody else worry about that," this kind of stuff. And he's trying to point out these different things that's in there, since I don't know what's in there. And he says, "If the wound is too big, these are small bandages, take his shirt off." He's telling me all this thing. And then as a precaution, oh, I said something about, "Where's my hat with a helmet, red cross?" He says, "Forget that. The last guy got shot through there." And just telling me that, "You don't want that kind of stuff," you know. And we're getting ready to mount and go forward, and he said, again, with the encouragement, he said, "Don't worry, you'll be okay." I don't know when I'm okay, because I'm anxious, because I don't know what to do. My father leaves me with the word, "Do the best you can, but don't shame the family name." And I'm wondering, geez, all I can do is screw up, because I don't know what I'm supposed to do. And so I think this was already written out, because when I hit M Company, I'm sure the sergeant knew I didn't know anything. Because he never asked me where I got my training. He just told me that I'm the medic here, I don't do anything the troops do, I don't touch any of the ammo or the equipment, so I don't know what I'm supposed to do. Then he sort of tells me, "When they're moving, you could be in the middle," sort of leaving it up to me as to be my own judge. Says, "Or else you could stay by me," this is the tech sergeant. And so he's making me comfortable, and I'm worried about screwing up. With the idea that my only job is to do things when somebody gets hurt. And when I think back about it, I don't remember being scared of getting shot. I was only scared that I would screw up. [Cries] And so that helped. And so everybody was encouraging that way.

And when you go to a place like that, gee, one time we were able to have a building, and then the sergeant said the bed's reserved for the lieutenant, him, and the medic. And so I got to sleep in the bed with them. And then one time they were invited to a lady's house, and surprise, they invite the medic. And so I go there, and I think I learned a few Italian words, because they, she offered cognac. And the lieutenant, sergeant says fine, and I said, "No think you," because I'm, I was too young to be drinking. But she said something about, "No poira," it's not poison. And so I thought, "Don't be afraid." I never checked to see if it was. And so I just tried to get the idea across that I'm too young to be drinking. But then, in the army, when they're fighting, everything's available like beer. I tried the beer that they had, and since it's not cold, it was terrible. And yet, when we had R&R and we went to Switzerland, from Lucerne, we went to, I guess, a skiing place called Engelberg. And it's a nice place. And we were in this hotel, and this was the first time the four of us at this table, and we look at the menu, and there's a swiss cheese sandwich, and I decide to order it, and beer, because I hear that German beer is pretty good. And so, to my surprise, they sent me a, seemed like a quarter inch slice of swiss cheese on rye bread, and I never ate cheese before. I'm more of a rice person. And there's no mustard or whatever on there, and I kind of wondered, does anybody eat this? And since we ordered it, I decided, well, I better start eating it. I was finding it kind of hard to try that. So I took a little of the beer, and boy, the beer was good, a lot different than the beer that we used to get in the bottles. And so I always remembered this experience, because here we're in this hotel dining room, and we're fussing around, and then when you go there you have to, they limit the amount of money you could take with you.


KP: This is a continuing interview with Taira Fukushima, and we were talking about you're in Switzerland, eating, trying to choke down a cheese sandwich with beer.

TF: Especially when I'd never had a cheese sandwich before. Well, then we were looking to see how much money we had, because we were sort of limited in terms of what we could take. And I'm struggling to eat the sandwich, but I liked the beer, and the next thing we know, the waitress brings another round of beer for us, and said, "The gentleman over there thought you would all like it," you know. And so the guy says, goes like that [waves] and we go like that, say thank you. And these are the kind of things, kindness that different people do, you know. It's just like on the bus ride they told me, "You get to get on first," or guy offers me a seat on the train. And then in Engelberg, he buys us a drink, and then we go outside, and we go by, there's a sort of incline like that, we're going up there. And then a kid comes out of a movie and says, "Is it like that in America?" They were showing Scarface. And so we said, "Yeah, that's the way it is all the time." [Laughs] We're just scaring him. And as we're walking up, this streetcar comes by, and the guy stops and asks us if we'd like to ride up. And everybody was so nice to us.

KP: So you served in Italy.

TF: Uh-huh. This was just a Rest & Recreation.

KP: And then where else did you serve? You were in Italy?

TF: Yeah. We went to France and then came to Italy. And then the war ended.

KP: You were in Italy when the war ended?

TF: Yeah. And that's when I got the letter about the dog. They kind of wanted us to go the language school, but fortunately, I had to decline because I couldn't even carry on a conversation with my parents. But I hate to tell you, I think guys who did worse than me was called in to do that also. Because that's what it is. If I was called out a year after, like a lot of my classmates, then I would have gone that way, too.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

Off camera: Can I ask a question?

KP: Sure.

Off camera: You said that you studied microbiology at the University of Utah because the army got you interested in it. I was wondering what you did.

TF: Well, see, after the war, we were moved to northern Italy, where M Company had to process German prisoners. And being the medic, you don't do that kind of stuff, so I got to do other things like take the truck and go to the water and swim or do whatever, and it was a good time for me. And I noticed that when the thing came through, one of the fellows somehow got hold of a microscope from these German troops. And I guess when you're the victor, what you take is yours. Because I don't think anybody said anything. But as we're going, we joined the 3rd Battalion by that time, and by the time the 442 was coming home, we got transferred to Folgia. And here's the guy with the microscope, and I think they looked at him and said, hey, the guy must be a bacteriologist. And so they made him, I don't know about the chief, but he was the only guy in the lab who knew that kind of stuff. And in retrospect, he only had one semester of college in bacteriology, and I figure I didn't know that much after a year. [Laughs] And so when you're majoring in bacteriology, it's a lot different than just having one course. But then since he was the lab man, I used to go in there and I used to enjoy seeing what he's doing and everything. So that's where I got my interest there. And then the German prisoners and the medics, we sort of associate with them. And they were always pulling this stuff about, "Don't read that crap. Stick to the real stuff." And so you'd get into a little better, what would you say, habits. And so that's how I got interested in that.

KP: The Germans spoke English?

TF: Oh, yeah. The Germans were good soldiers. In fact, the medical students were, actually medical students when they were captured also. And they were more disciplined than me. After all, I was told I shouldn't even think about college. [Laughs] But the whole idea that after the war, whether you're prisoners or not, this is okay. Because like after we got the, war over, and we processed the prisoners, or M Company did, I was transferred to 3rd Battalion medics. And there I figured, well, they're going to know I don't know anything. Well, there's a staff sergeant there named Masuda, who took me under his wings. And he started teaching me, doing it this way and that way. And one day they brought a burn patient in, who got burned working on the steam boiler, you know. And they happened to be a German prisoner, and I don't know if you know this, but it seemed like if they were a prisoner, they'd send 'em to the hospital. So they bring 'em in, and then I look at Terry, that's Masuda, and then he looks at me and says, "He's your patient," knowing full well that I've never seen a burn patient or did anything with them. But the encouragement and support that he gave, he gave me instructions as if I was teaching him how to do everything. It's kind of hard to say it, because what I'm doing is what he's telling me as if I'm showing him. And gee, I guess the prisoner is grateful that he's getting helped. And then after treating him for about three weeks, he's in real good shape, and he's real happy. And the sergeant says I did fine. And yet, I really don't know what I did other than the fact that I did what he was telling me as if I was showing him. So this is the kind of experience I had, just support and accomplishments that come about.

KP: I've got one question about the 442nd, and that is, were you in the 442nd the whole time, or you got transferred out?

TF: Oh, no. We, from the day I hit camp, Manzanar, I knew that if I was going to go into the service, I'm going to be cannon fodder. And then there was a fellow in Block 5 who was kicked out of the army because he just happened to be Japanese. And then in '43, they called them back to be part of the 442. And so with that, I knew that when we were getting called, we're going to be 442. So no matter what happened, I just figured that's where we're going to go in, that's how we ended up. The fellow who was in Block 5 just died this spring. And the sad part about it is he was in the I Company in France where they saved the "Lost Battalion," 36th, and I Company lost more people than they saved. But it's the idea that when you're given a task, you know, you're going to do it, loyalty above all.

KP: So were you in the 442nd for all your military career?

TF: Yeah. Well, when the 442nd went home, we were then assigned to other places. I was assigned to this hospital in southern Italy.

KP: So you were no longer segregated.

TF: Yeah. You might say no longer segregated, and yet, you might say we were, because there was a lot of us so-called new recruits who weren't veterans of the 442 who went. So the rest of us are actually still there. But eventually we got to go home. And I don't know if I should tell you, but I don't think I'm really disloyal. But when I came home, they tried to talk me into joining the reserves. And after about a half hour of saying, "No, no, no," they finally gave up on me. And I didn't have any qualms about it because technically I didn't like the army per se. I liked the 442 because of their attitude, is that, I don't know if I mentioned it, but in the 442 it seemed like top man first. So if the squad had to go and dig a ditch, the sergeant went first. Or if you're going to charge, the lieutenant don't tell the other guys to go, he goes first, and then the next guy, so everybody's willing to keep going because somebody else isn't telling you to go first. And so the esprit de corps was really high there, that therefore if somebody's hurt, you don't worry about getting shot, you worry about you don't want to screw up, you know. So that's the kind of stuff that, I don't know if it's true or not, but that's the way I felt. And so it's, the whole thing was the good experience.

KP: That does not make you disloyal, I'm just telling you that.

TF: The which?

KP: I think you're very loyal. That doesn't make you disloyal.

TF: Oh, yeah. Well, loyalty is a matter of to your country and to your friends, and loyalty is a dog to you. It sort of works that way.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

KP: We're going to bring this to a close, I just wanted to open up for any other questions that you guys want to cover or didn't get answered? [Addressing others in the room]

Off camera: Do you remember when you lived in Block 5, were there any ponds or gardens?

TF: Oh, well, actually, there might have been one family who somehow got some cement and made a little pond, and was able to put carp in there. Because when you're a G-man, that was one of the better jobs in camp. A G-man is actually a garbage man, and what they do is they load these cans on the truck, and then they go out of the camp, there's a guard there, and you go out to dump it. But then you pass over a creek, and the guard lets you stop there and fish. [Laughs] And that's how they catch fish and stick it in the pond.

KP: Do you know where that was, that pond?

TF: Oh, no. Once you leave there, I don't know.

Off camera: Was it your block, was it your neighbor, or nearby?

TF: Oh, no, it's one of the people that was there. But the other areas of camp, they had better-looking ones. The only thing I remember of Block 5 is that we as teens had a certain camaraderie that even today, you know, it's pretty hard. In fact, did I tell you about this one gal who lived in the next barrack on the end, didn't recognize my good friend who lived a few doors up. And so I brought this picture to show her that this is what everybody looked like in camp 5. And so I'm going to show her today, and she's going to see if she can remember. Because she said she remembered me, because we were just in the next building. And she mentioned how she went to school with the others in the same block, and so there's one boy there that's the younger brother of the gal that she went to school with. And I kind of wonder if she kind of recognized him. If she does, I'll introduce him as he is today. Because I don't know if I mentioned it, but at one of the reunions, he came to see if he knew anybody. And so being in Block 5, he went to Table 5, and wanted to know where all the people from Table 5, were from Block 5. And then two of us were there, so we were able to work up a nice friendship that way.

KP: Rose, did you have anything?

Off camera: Yeah. I was curious, you said that when you were in high school in Los Angeles, that you heard a lot of racial slurs being thrown about. I was wondering if when you went to high school for about a week in Idaho Falls, what the general feeling was.

TF: Oh, in Idaho?

Off camera: Were there any other Japanese Americans in the school there?

TF: Well, when I went to Idaho, the experience I had as we were farming there, it was that... it was the nicest place. Because we went into a movie theater, and instead of telling us to move into the balcony, maybe, because there wasn't any, he wanted us to sit on the side. And we go back into the middle, and we'd get moved over, and so we got out of there. As far as other Japanese there, there seemed to have been other Orientals there, but I don't really recall any where I would actually meet. But I knew that there was some around. But when I went there, I had a great time because the first day of the school, one of the fellows even came and got me and took me to sit next to him up front. And that's the way you kind of like to get started. But that's not the way it's always been, and it doesn't happen all the time. These are little incidents. And like in the army, they don't really pay favoritism, and yet they do. Because when the cooks in our Company A knew that there were eight of us Orientals, that we usually eat rice, well, the cooks asked us, "How do you prepare the rice?" Well, when I was young, as punishment, I had to wash the rice.


KP: You were talking about the rice, preparing the rice.

TF: Oh. As far as the rice is concerned, we as kids had to wash the rice as punishment. So we'd add rice, and then you would add so much water. And then so we'd tell the cooks, we don't know how, because that's how we used to do it. Well, surprisingly for the eight of us, they cooked white rice. And for all of the people to eat, they didn't know what to do with it, because they'd never had it, so they wonder if they put milk on it or what. [Laughs] And this was the kind of thing that you seldom hear about, but they're trying to make you feel at home.


TF: The thing I was mentioning was we were on this forced march, and we were in Company A then, 148th Battalion, that was led by Captain Allen. I never saw a guy so bigoted. Well, I use the term loosely because he was bigoted only against colored people. And I guess they never assigned colored people to him because he really talked bad about them. And here we're marching, and all of a sudden the jeep stops and the colonel gets out. And then all of a sudden he comes behind me and starts chewing the sergeant out. Because with the colonel, found that the sergeant hit one of the guys on the head, on the helmet, with a stick. And it happened to be the guy I left camp with to join the army. So that was one where the colonel finds somebody, quote, "abusing" a soldier, getting on him, and I kind of wonder, gee, I didn't know they did that kind of stuff. So you get different views of everything. Lot of times when you get feelings that people you're under, other lists, other things happen where things make up for it. And I kind of thought that the colonel was pretty good where he stopped to chew the guy out and make it so they'll not do those things to anybody.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

Off camera: I'll just ask one more question because I always have a lot of questions. When you returned to the U.S. after the war, and the 442nd had a pretty stellar record fighting, did you find that public opinion had changed? Especially when you went back to California.

TF: Well, I didn't go back to California. It's just that my folks moved to New Jersey where I whatchamacallit, went. I got discharged in New Jersey, and the policy was to fly you to the place that you were, you go into the service. That meant they gave me a hundred and fifty dollars to fly to Salt Lake City where we went in. But it only took five or six dollars to take a bus to Bridgeton, so I made money on that one. But there's a, as far as public attitude was concerned, I hate to tell you, but things didn't change. When I went to Des Moines, I thought it was pretty nice, because everybody was real friendly. We were able to, when I went to Drake, I got a job as a, at the girl's dormitory as a dishwasher's helper, and that wasn't bad because I learned that I could eat two meals there, you know, lunch and supper. And I got in good with the cooks because one of the first things I asked him is that, if I can have five slices of bread with each of my meals, and they thought it was kind of funny that someone was going to ask for so much bread, that they always gave me a little extra of everything, plus the bread. And so these were the kind of things. And didn't lose out anything, because when there's any activity, the other guys will save me seats and stuff. And we had our homecoming for... they don't do these things now, but we had this home bonfire, and we'd go through the motions and all that. And if Drake wins, we'd cut class. Things were more normal than they are nowadays. But as far as public opinion, when I moved to Salt Lake, things were... I think worse than L.A., because more things were hidden. Like when someone would see me, they would say, "Oh, how long have you been here? You speak good English." And I don't want to tell 'em, gee, my English is pretty bad for the amount of time I've been here, because I was born in L.A. But I don't do that, but then they had housing discrimination there, job discrimination. When my wife's folks was offered a farming position in AmericanFork, they took it and left camp. And then the bishop there didn't treat 'em so good, that they decided they wouldn't do that the following year. And so they were going to buy a house, only the land rules so that they can't sell it to Orientals or Indians. And I think Mexicans were listed on there, too, at that time. But it was that kind of stuff. When my wife looked for a job, she went to an insurance place, and at least they were forthright and said, "We don't hire Japanese." Whereas the other ones will give you excuses. When we were getting married and we're looking for a place to live, you look for an ad and it's open, and you go there and they say, "Oh, it's already been rented." Then you go home and talk to 'em again, and they say it's ready to go. So I used a few words I shouldn't be using to let 'em know that I'm sort of wise to them. But there was this kind of stuff.

And they kind of freely used the word "Jap." Like when I was going to the hospital, I'd park, and then you'd hear somebody say, "Who's parking in front there?" And somebody would say, "Oh, that Jap." So you hear this kind of stuff. But it's Martin Luther King. When he came about, everything changed for us also as far as I'm concerned. Because by then, you didn't have to worry about anything like that. And I know there was a few colored people who wanted to join the Japanese church. And then I kind of found some in the Japanese church didn't think they didn't ought to be letting colored people in. And I kind of wonder, you know, this is kind of strange. And it's just like Japanese bowling league, it's for Japanese only. So if you're not Japanese or married to Japanese, technically, you don't get to join. And you hear all of this kind of stuff, but I'm through with all of the politics. I don't bowl. [Laughs]

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

Off camera: Where did you meet your wife? When did you marry?

TF: Well, see, that's another story. Do I dare? Well, she and I were in the same class, the class of '44. The only difference though was I was in Idaho a lot, and I came back, and I was working on this senior project in journalism, and so I arranged for all of the seniors, when they take their pictures and everything, and I got to know the photographer, Toyo Miyatake, real well, and the students. And so after we graduated, there was a sort of a carnival or affair type of stuff, and I was asked to join that. And she was there, and so even though we were classmates, we met for the first time there. And so nothing happened, and so I went to, went into the service, and I kind of wrote to her, and so what? So when I came home in January on the furlough before I was going to go overseas, I decided, well, it's the last night, so I better at least go to say hello to her, because I didn't really know her. And so I go there about eight o'clock, and she's already in bed. But her mother wakes her up, and she comes out, we traded tidbits and whatever. And the only thing I remember from that is she tells me her mother says, "It's sad that such a young boy is going to go to war," and so that was it. And when I was in Hood, I wrote her a letter. And then she tells me later on that, she wonders if the answer took over a week, because she didn't know if she should. And then she decided, well, he's not really a bad guy, so she did. And therefore we started to correspond. And while I was in Italy, we corresponded, and it's amazing how I think everybody ought to get to know each other by writing each other, because you get to know each other so well. At least to me it did, because when I'm ready to come home, technically, we're in such a position where we're ready to be engaged without even having a first date. And so we come home, and then I tell her, "I got this four years of college, and I think I better start trying for it." And so I told her I'm going to go to Drake, and she's willing for that. And then after that, one year, I transferred to university, so she could be there. And so, then Kennecott goes on strike, and her father and brother works there, and so their income drops. And so they asked if they could postpone getting married. And so you say sure, because we come from the same kind of cultural background. And I think this helps, because we waited. Well, it also helps that her mother and father thought I was a pretty nice guy, because they protected her from others when others used to come, sort of like seeing if the daughter's available for someone else to be married. And they watched out for me. But the whole idea is that we were then able to get married.

And that I think I mentioned that after a couple of years, we were having our first child, and I was getting my bachelor's degree, my father informs us that he's getting laid off because he's getting too old for them now. And so without really blinking an eyelash, she says they're welcome to come stay with us. And this is unusual. And so she calls them, and they come over. And that was the best thing that ever happened, because my mother had a hard life. And since my wife speaks real good Japanese, she was able to converse with them like no one else. And with a child being born, now there's a grandma who would be able to do things and make grandma feel good, because grandma doesn't know anything about kids either. And so the mother telling the grandma, you can punish the kid and all that, but grandma's not going to do it. But the whole idea is that there's a new relationship here. And then we find out my mother never hated the ice cream. [Cries] And so the whole thing changes and spin, when she got ready to die. She had a heart attack which looked like indigestion. And we took her to the hospital and they said it was a heart attack, and then she ended up with heart failure. And I guess she knew she was going to die, but she wrote a letter to her, to my wife, written in elementary Japanese, thanking her for everything. So that's how it came about that, how we met, strangely, how our courtship went, it's strangely, how the fortunes of war brought everything together as if it's... you just can't read anything like this in a textbook, because nobody will believe it. Because this is all fairy tale, it fits in.

And then it fitted in because a minister's wife asked us if we would host a student from Japan, sister-city thing. And so that sort of opened up a way for us to host the sister cities, because I moved to Medford, and then I moved back. And at that time I asked if they needed us to help out. And the gal said, no, they don't need this because we don't have any kids. But then one of the Japanese guys from the chamber of commerce came over and said, "Is there any chance of hosting us again? And so we found out the gal who was handling it is different from the gal in the city who handles the student portion of it. So we contacted her, and ever since then, we were hosting the adults. Usually the chamber of commerce, or a schoolteacher, or the travel bureau. And since she was able to speak Japanese and cook Japanese, in those early days, seemed like we were getting older people, maybe in their fifties or sixties. And they kind of have old fashioned ways, so they liked you if you fixed whatever they like. And so this is it. But because we did that, they started staying with us, and then everybody's getting younger and we're getting older, the tide changed because the new kids wanted to cook for us. And this worked out pretty good. And the best time that she ever had was a few years ago when a lady who worked there was assigned to come with the students, and she stayed with us. And I think my wife really liked that, because it must have reminded her of the child that we lost at childbirth from orthomitosis. And it's real nice, because when they go home, they keep in contact. Everything works out right. Even now, even though I'm a retired doctor, when I was again retired, my wife says, "It's time you got a physical." And I told her, "No, I don't need to," because a friend of mine, bacteriologist, who retired, decided that he'll volunteer for the physical at the University of Colorado, and they found out more diseases in him than he would care about, which he died from. Well, in my case, they checked me over and found diabetes and high blood pressure and cholesterol and everything, and then later on I decided, gee, I like a little cigar. In the army, we never had cigarettes, because -- this is off kilter? Well, normally speaking, you used to sell on the black market, the cigarettes. And the thing is, after it got to be twenty-five dollars a carton, it just wasn't worth it. But then the cigars and stuff were, nobody wanted it, and so I tried it. The first one knocked me for a loop, but then after that, you try and get more selective. Well, by the time I'm getting retired, the doctor used to ask my wife, "Is he still smoking cigars?" And she would then answer. Well, after she passed away three and a half years ago, he has no one to ask. So I told him that I'm still smoking my cigar. And he says, "I'm not going to tell you anything because you can do whichever you like. It's not going to shorten your life." After all, at eighty-five, I'm living past what I'm expected anyway. So I have fun with him.

KP: We need to end up here, and I have one more question. It sounds like Manzanar was kind of a catalyst of change, not just your life, but your parents' life.

TF: Manzanar really changed everybody's life. When I look back, there is no pre-Manzanar to me. Everything is post-Manzanar. That all of the friends and acquaintances that I know of are related after Manzanar or through Manzanar. And so all of our activities even... well, maybe because we became adults, our outlooks changed and everything. I don't think I'd enjoy living in L.A. anymore, if it was the same condition. And being adult, I don't have any real desire to still live there, although most of these people seem to be from that area. But being Block 5 people, they still remember us. And I think it's a good feeling.

KP: Well, on behalf of myself and the National Park Service and myself, thank you very much for taking time to interview with us.

FT: Well, I'm not sure if I did anything other than the fact that that's the way it was, at least from my eyes. If there was something that I could do a little differently, I sure would, which is try to find Ms. Goldberg and say thanks. That if I was out of hand, I really didn't mean to. And to the retired teacher in Paradise, that I'm sorry I never got there to see her.

KP: Well, this is now part of the archive for the Park Service, and maybe someday somebody will be going through that and say, "I know who that person is, or I know the family." So you've put that legacy out there. And thank you, thank you very much.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.