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-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

RP: What was the name of the hotel that your...

VI: I can't even remember. It's 707 Yesler, is the only thing I can remember. So I don't think it had a name as such.

RP: Just the address?

VI: If it did...

RP: Can you describe the building to us?

VI: It was a one-, two-, three-story building, and on the... it's on a slope, so on the side of the, on Yesler Way, there was a laundry there. And on the back side, of course, we had the furnace that was stoked by coal and wood for heat. And the first floor, we had one community bath for twenty rooms, probably, and another community bath upstairs. And they were housekeeping, so people can cook, you know, they had a little hot stove in the room. And we had one tenant, and he used to be a gold miner. And he'd go up to Alaska and pan gold. And we could tell when he did well, 'cause he'd come back and he'd be drunk for about two months. [Laughs] So, and then if he didn't hit it good, he'd be very sober for the time he's here, but I remember him distinctly.

RP: Did this hotel cater exclusively to Japanese?

VI: No, no, just anybody. Mostly, they were all single. 'Cause during that time, most of the hotels downtown catered to single men.

RP: Boarders.

VI: Boarders, right, right.

RP: Now, was the hotel located in what would be referred to as the Japantown section?

VI: It was right above Japantown, and if you went down the hill, then you had the Japantown.

RP: Jackson Street...

VI: Jackson Street, Main Street, Washington, and Maynard, they had the Nippon Kan, which was the community hall that we did all the activities in. Up Washington Street was the red light district, you know, and they'd have all the houses lined up where men will come and the women would sit there tapping. And right on the corner of Maynard... no, Seventh and Washington, we used to play baseball, you know, on the corner where home plate was on one side of the street, the corner, and left field was going up one street, and the right field was going up the other street, and we'd play ball there, softball. And what happens is these men would come up to the red light district, and they'll sit there and they'll watch us play ball. So any time the ball rolled into the porch, this red light house, madam would could up and take our ball. So it would break up the ballgame for a while, until the madam went in, and she gave us the ball back. [Laughs]

RP: Was this a red light district specific to Japantown?

VI: No, it was a Washington, for the city of Seattle.

RP: So the entire city.

VI: Right. And they were all, I remember they were all inspected 'cause they had inspections supposedly, health inspection signs down there.

RP: And there's just a long, you can remember a long row of houses?

VI: Yeah. In fact, there were quite a few streets that had the red light district.

RP: Do you recall any other interesting or colorful characters that frequented the hotel while you were growing up?

VI: No, I just remember him. I mean...

RP: The gold miner?

VI: Yeah, the gold miner. He'd go up there, he'd come back, and if he started to drink, you knew he had hit it. Not good maybe, but enough to keep him going 'til next year. And he'd be broke by then so he'd have to go up again.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.