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-01-0047

<Begin Segment 47>

RP: Did you, after your military time was up, did you resettle in Seattle, did the family eventually come together?

VI: Right. My folks came back, and they leased a hotel right down in old Japantown. And it was, it had sixty-four rooms in it, so it was a nice hotel, big hotel. It was more for transient single people. So I came back, and then I stayed there. Now one of the things of being a veteran, you had the GI Bill of Rights. So I came back not knowing what to do. But if you went to school, they'd pay your tuition, the books, and give you seventy-five dollars a month. And the more I thought about it, it was better than working. So I thought, well, I'd go to, I'd go to college. Except I was kind of concerned because the grades I had in camp were so low, would they accept me at the university? Well, it was high enough where they accepted me.

So I enrolled at the University of Washington, and since my second half of high school was nonexistent, I was deficient in a lot of things. So first thing I had to do was, quote, take "dumbbell English" so that I could get the grades to keep on going. [Laughs] I went and decided -- you know, I shouldn't tell you all this 'cause if my kids heard about it -- but anyway, I looked it over, and I said, "Well, what's the easiest thing?" I always wanted to be an engineer, but the engineering school seemed so tough. I says, "Now, what's the next best thing to do?" I says, well, the easiest thing to get in is business school at that time. So I said, "Well, okay, I'm going to be a business school major." So I applied for business school. Then I looked at the business school and I says, "Now, what's the easiest major I can have?" and I saw transportation. I says, "Wow, I don't know what that is, but it sure sounds easy." So I said, "I'll major in transportation." Of course, when you take transportation you got to take all the accounting courses and the various other, but basically it was transportation. The more I got into it, I thought, "Boy, transportation, air travel, is just starting." Boeing was, had their... the Pan Am Clipper was flying, Boeing was flying their four engines cross-country. It was taking six to eight hours or twelve hours to get across. So I took up transportation and did a couple of papers on air transportation.

And then also it dawned on me that, you know, there's not a better job than being a travel agent, because if you become a travel agent, people come to you, and they're all happy because they're going on a vacation. So you're always dealing with happy people. So I said, "I'm going to be a travel agent." Anyway, so I went through the whole bit, and I graduated in transportation. I had talked to Northwest Airlines, and they had thought about, "Would you be interested," but I'd have to travel. And I didn't want to travel, so I refused it. And like every, every good Seattleite graduate does, they work at Boeing. So I started working at Boeing and became kind of a draft person to begin with.

So my, and then when I went through the University of Washington, I was back with the OT group again because they all came, a lot of 'em came back. Now, we didn't call ourselves OT then after we got back, but the same people that we grew up and went through camp and went through the OT thing and the military were now all at the...

RP: At the college?

VI: At the college. At the University of Washington they have what they call the SYNKOA club, which was a live-in house for college students before the war, and they were able to keep that. And then, so we got it back, so a lot of the people that weren't living in Seattle came to dorm at the -- this is for the Niseis -- at the SYNKOA House to go. So we had the SYNKOA club at the SYNKOA House, which again felt like being back in camp with the OTs. [Laughs] And the SYNKOA was named after five of the students that were killed. They took their first name, and they came out as SYNKOA. So my wife's brother was one of them. He was the "K" of that. But then...

RP: They were killed in combat?

VI: Yeah, combat in Italy.

RP: That's 442nd?

VI: Right, 442nd. So they were college students when they left and they came back. So SYNKOA Club was kind of a social hall, too. Except most of the people there were vets so the vets were a little bit more serious than the kids coming out of high school. So it was back again toward the camps, the camp life. We had a good time in SYNKOA Club.

RP: Kind of relived some of it?

VI: Relived some of the experiences.

<End Segment 47> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.