Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Victor Ikeda Interview
Narrator: Victor Ikeda
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: November 6, 2007
Densho ID: denshovh-ivictor-01-0012

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RP: So this reunion you were just discussing was a reunion of...

VI: The ballplayers, right.

RP: ...the ballplayers in Seattle? The Courier League.

VI: Yeah, the whole Northwest. It was kind of nice because people are scattered all over, and most of 'em were in their seventies, and the, get in their sixties, seventies.

RP: Relive their youthful glories.

VI: Yeah, that's right. Everybody remembers the good old days, you know, like yesterday I was talking to my brother-in-law, and he was telling, I brought up this sports thing that I had to do, he says, "I had a batting average of .331." He still remembers it, you know. [Laughs] So they're living their, we all live in our youthful glory.

RP: Did you, did you play teams outside the Seattle area as well?

VI: Right, we used to play, all the communities in the Courier League had teams throughout the, Seattle and Tacoma, Fife, Auburn, Kent, so we'd travel. In fact, I remember our baseball team went out to Auburn, and this was the Class C, the younger, the league, and we played in a very small gym, 'cause a lot of times you don't get the, for the younger teams, you don't get the big courts. So we had a zone defense, and we beat Auburn on a basketball game eleven to nothing, which is almost, sounds like a baseball game. And when I was younger, they used to have judo clubs, and also kendo clubs.

RP: You were involved in those?

VI: Yeah, we were involved in judo, and we'd have club meets with different communities. In Seattle they had two, two clubs. It was Tento-kan and Seattle Dojo, and we'd always compete. So they kept us busy with sports.

RP: Sports. And so what belt did you reach?

VI: Oh, I never, we were younger, and we left, so we never did get up to the black belt in anything. So we were still white, you know. But some of the people that were went back, and they'd become teachers and all that for younger kids.

RP: And when did you get out of judo, Victor?

VI: Well, I tell you, I could always remember two things. One thing is, the first thing they do is they teach you how to fall so that you don't get hurt. You roll if you fall. And the other thing is you develop certain instincts. Well, one time I remember I was riding on the back of the thing and the car stopped and started and we kind of fell. And the first instinct I had was just rolling over, so I didn't get hurt. But if you ever went down with your hands, you probably would have broke your hands or something, just trying to break the fall. The other one was, when I was in Minneapolis, right before I got drafted, I was working at the International Harvester, we were making 105 shells for the, for the guns, you know, for the... there was a janitor, and he was a little, I think it was a little mentally slow, so he was the head of the janitor's job. And he saw me and I think he thought I was the enemy. So he came after, he used a big shovel, so he came after me with a shovel. The first thing I did was, not even thinking about it, I grabbed him and I just kind of threw him instinctively, 'cause that's what I had learned in judo, which I hadn't thought about for five, six years. So you asked me what did I accomplish? Two things.

RP: Saved your life in two situations.

VI: Well, it wasn't really a life, but you know, I could have been hit in the head with a shovel. [Laughs]

RP: Did you also, were involved in kendo, too?

VI: No, no, I wasn't.

RP: Now, was the judo club, some of the judo clubs were organized around Japanese school. Was this independent of that?

VI: Yeah, they were more independent, yeah.

RP: And you had a facility that --

VI: Facility that they had the mats, you know.

RP: Well, sumo wrestling was also very popular.

VI: Well, except sumo is basically a big person's sport, and we had, some of our older, then they fooled around with sumo, but that wasn't quite as popular in the United States as it is in Japan.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.