Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Frank Konishi Interview
Narrator: Frank Konishi
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 13, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-kfrank_3-01

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is an oral history for the Manzanar National Historic Site, along with a partnership with the Densho legacy project. Today we're talking with Frank Konishi. We will be discussing Frank's life growing up as a Japanese American in Colorado with emphasis on the period during World War II in Colorado. Our interview is taking place at the Marriott Residence Inn in Denver, Colorado. The date of the interview is Tuesday, May 13th, the interviewer is Richard Potashin, and our videographer is Kirk Peterson. Our interview today will be archived in the Manzanar National Historic Site's library. And thank you so much, Frank, for spending some of your morning sharing your stories about your life here in Colorado. First of all, like to start by asking you, what was your given name at birth?

FK: It was Frank, and then the Japanese name was Toru. But of course, during the war, we just never used our Japanese name. So even when I went into the army, as far as the army's concerned, I have no middle name.

RP: And where were you born, and what year?

FK: I was born in Fort Lupton, Colorado, way back in 1928.

RP: What was the month and the date?

FK: December 2, 1928.

RP: And let's talk a little bit about your father, or actually, the first member of your family to come to America was your grandfather.

FK: Yeah.

RP: What was his name?

FK: Kyutaro Konishi, and he and his cousin and a friend, actually, they went from Japan to Peru, and then they somehow worked themselves up and up, went through Mexico, and that's when he had the senbei makers made, and we think they, when they came into Arizona, we think maybe he went this way to Arizona -- [laughs] -- and he worked on the, worked on a sugar beet farm there. But at the end of the season, the company refused to pay them, so they walked from Arizona to Colorado. It would be about a thousand miles. How they did it, I don't know, 'cause Grandpa was about five feet tall, and had a, carrying a bunch of these senbei makers, which must have weighed at least eighty pounds. But, and then they settled southeast of Denver, I think in a place called Kiowa, and then they ended up in Denver. Eventually ended up in Fort Lupton, at the farm there.

RP: Did you ever get a chance to talk to him, talk to your grandfather? Was he still alive...

FK: No, he died in 1922.

RP: He chose to come to Peru first before going to America?

FK: Yeah, I don't know why they went to, went to Peru first.

RP: And he kind of worked his way up through South America and Mexico, working farm labor or anything he could find?

FK: Yeah, probably anywhere, yeah. And then it was probably about eight or ten years later when he asked his wife and son and daughter to come (from) Japan. That was my dad and my aunt.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

RP: And your dad's name?

FK: George. George Hisaka Konishi.

RP: And how old was your father when he came to America, and roughly what year did he come?

FK: Let's see, he must have come around 1912 or 1913, I think it was around '12. Can't ever keep the dates straight. And his sister was a couple years older. But I never, she went back to Japan probably around 1929 or '30, so I don't, I don't remember her.

RP: And she stayed in Japan?

FK: Yeah.

RP: What area did your father and his mother and sister come through? Did they come through Seattle?

FK: Yeah, I think they came through Seattle, yeah.

RP: You said your grandfather and grandmother actually lived in Denver for a short time?

FK: I don't know how long, but then, and then they lived on a farm in Fort Lupton, at the Twombly Place. And then in 1930, Dad bought a farm in Platteville, which is about nine miles north of Fort Lupton. That's when he decided to start a dairy farm.

RP: You told me that he was the first Japanese American in Colorado to enter that profession?

FK: As far as we know, yeah. Most of the Japanese farmers were vegetable farmers.

RP: Tell me a little bit about your dad. You mentioned he was a man of about five feet tall?

FK: He was about 5'2", I think, but he taught us all how to work, never taught us how to play. But he always stressed education, and so I'm always, I'll always be grateful for that.

RP: What else do you remember most about your dad, and what other lessons or values did they impart to you?

FK: Well, I remember once going to Fort Lupton, which is about 10 miles away. And he bought something and he, on the way home he noticed that they gave him about a dime too much. He turned around, went back, and returned the ten cents. [Laughs] So he was really an honest man, very strict. But it's funny, to us, he was really strict with his kids, but to talk to our friends, they all remember him as a real funny storyteller. And it really surprised us because he was so strict with us, and he never joked around. Of course, he was hard of hearing, so it was kind of hard to tell a joke when he can't hear all of the joke. [Laughs] But it's amazing how many people, people who knew him all say that he was a real funny, funny man to talk to.

RP: What part of Japan did your father come from?

FK: You know, all I remember, he kept saying Ehime-ken, and I think it's in the southern part of Japan, but I don't know enough about Japan to really know exactly where.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

RP: How about your mother? First of all, her name?

FK: Yeah, her name was Wai. We always to wonder, gee, Wai, but it's W-A-I, and she was from Hiroshima.

RP: And her maiden name?

FK: It was, well, her maiden name was Murata when she came here, because her mother came before Mom. Apparently Mom stayed in Japan to take care of her grandmother, and when her grandmother passed away, she came by herself on a ship. And her mother and her stepfather lived in Fort Lupton, farmed in Fort Lupton.

RP: They initially settled there?

FK: Uh-huh.

RP: Did they, do you know if they went right to Fort Lupton?

FK: Yeah, as far as I know.

RP: And how old was your mother when she made this sort of solo journey?

FK: I think she was around fifteen.

RP: Roughly what year would she have...

FK: So that would have been 1920 or so.

RP: And tell us what you recall about your mother, physically and personality.

FK: Well, we come from a big family. I have six brothers and six sisters, so I remember she was working, helping milk cows, she milked cows for just about twenty-eight or twenty-nine years. And with all those kids, and we'd be working out on the farm, and she'd take her couple days off to have another baby, seemed like it. [Laughs] Probably, probably six, probably six of us were born on the farm. Dr. Monismith would come out to the farm to deliver the baby, and then I think she finally started going to the hospital. But she, it just, it just seemed like she never, never stayed at home very long, she was always, came right out in the field to work, help work with the rest of us.

RP: Where would that hospital have been?

FK: I think it was in Greeley, yeah.

RP: How far was Greeley from...

FK: Greeley was about 20 miles.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

RP: Let's talk, since you mentioned your brothers and sisters, let's have you list your brothers and sisters and roughly when they were born, in order of birth.

FK: My oldest sister was born in 1925, and my oldest brother was born in '26. My brother was born in '27, I was born in '28.

RP: Can you give me their names?

FK: Yeah. The oldest was Lena, and then Ben, my oldest brother, and then Harry, and then I was fourth, fourth in the family. And then my sister Martha was born 1930, she's the same age as my wife. And then my, then another brother was Gil, Gilbert, born 1932, and then a sister was born in '34. And then another sister, Catherine, in '37. My sister in '34 was Ruby, and then Catherine, and then another brother was born in 1938, Robert, he's another veterinarian. And then there was a sister, Charlotte. You know, we used nicknames, and sometimes it's hard to remember what the real name is. [Laughs] Charlotte was born in 1940, and then, let's see. Then my next brother was Alban, he was born in 1944, and another brother in 1945, (Alvin). And then my youngest sister was born in 1948, her name's Linda, Linda Joy. So if that's thirteen, the surviving one. Two of them died in infancy, so Mom had fifteen altogether.

RP: And of all those siblings, was there any particular one that you felt closest to growing up?

FK: Yeah, growing up, I guess I was closest to my brother who was a year older, and then my sister who was a couple years younger.

RP: Did the kids tend to hang around close...

FK: Yeah, actually, our family, in talking to the rest of the family, looks like the family really came up in three different families. The oldest four and five, and then the middle, and then the younger ones. There was, let's see, forty-eight, there was twenty... let's see, twenty-five, because there was twenty-three years' difference between my youngest and oldest. So there was quite a spread. And my youngest sister has a -- that's a funny story -- when she was living at home with my mom, and when they moved from the farm in Platteville to Fort Lupton, she said this nice lady would come to visit with two little brats, and she would always bring some nice things to eat, and she and Mom would be speaking Japanese, and then she would always go home. She did not know she was her oldest sister until, until she was just about in high school. [Laughs] But if you ever met my younger sister, you would, she's quite a joker.

RP: You had an interesting story also to share about your brother Ben.

FK: Yeah, my, I don't know, my sister-in-law Bessie may tell this story, but this rich rancher flew him from Alamosa, Colorado, to the Sundance Ranch in Utah to treat his horses. So Ben's daughter asked him, "Did you meet the owner?" He said yeah, he's met him, seemed like a nice old man. So the daughter said, "Well, do you know who he was?" Said, "No." That was Robert Redford. He did not know who Robert Redford was. [Laughs] I think he has to be the only person in the United States who didn't know who Robert Redford was. [Laughs] Robert Redford flew him back to Colorado, and I assume he treated his horse the way that...

RP: Great story.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

RP: Let's talk a little bit about your childhood on the farm. First of all, do you recall how large your father's dairy farm was?

FK: Yeah, it was about 160 acres that he bought in (1930).

RP: Where did he get the money for that?

FK: That's a good story, 'cause he paid... I remember hearing $14,000 and then $17,000, for some reason I remember $14,000, but I don't know where he... and I'm not exactly sure when he started the dairy farm. But yeah, he was the, in that area, Fort Lupton/Platteville area, he was the only Japanese who bought the farm. I think others bought a little later, perhaps.

RP: That opportunity to own land was kind of a privilege that West Coast Japanese...

FK: Yeah, uh-huh.

RP: ...didn't have, or were not allowed.

FK: Because the Japanese really weren't allowed to buy farms. In fact, I read somewhere, I think it was that someone had written a history of the Japanese, and they were saying that they couldn't buy a farm before 1934, but I knew that wasn't correct, because Dad had bought his, bought the farm in 1930.

RP: And it was predominately a dairy farm, but most farms also grew other vegetables.

FK: Yeah, we also raised potatoes, cabbage sometimes. Of course, alfalfa and barley for the cows, and corn, always had corn. Not sweet corn, but field corn to chop up to make silage for the cows. And yeah, we tried lettuce occasionally, but that didn't go over so good. [Laughs]

RP: Did all the kids work on the farm?

FK: Yeah. I don't know about my younger brother and sisters, but we all had to... in fact, I remember having to stay out of school, must have been in the third or fourth grade to harvest sugar -- oh, sugar beets, that's what we had. And I remember seeing the school bus go by, and we'd be out in the field working.

RP: How long would you be off of school for?

FK: Probably a couple weeks.

RP: So the most important responsibility was to the farm and to harvest.

FK: Well, when it was harvest time, I guess Dad needed the help, so we did. But like I say, he always stressed education because he was, he was forced to quit school. He only went for four years. But during that time, he always wanted to be like an American, so he learned how to speak English and he would always speak English at home, and Mom would speak Japanese. In fact, Mom would speak Japanese to us, and we would answer in English, and we would understand each other.

RP: It was very unusual for an Issei like your dad to be proficient in English?

FK: Yeah, and so whenever the older Japanese would get into trouble, I remember my wife's dad, someone stole their horses, and so Dad had to go there and explain that it really was, it was my wife's family's horses. So there were times when he, they asked him to...

RP: Interpret.

FK: interpret, uh-huh. But it's strange, my mother-in-law, actually knew Dad much longer than -- 'cause she knew Dad, she could still, she remembered seeing Dad and another friend when he was ten or eleven years old, driving a team of horses and a wagon, he's so tiny, his feet dangling from the seat. And so my mother-in-law knew Dad for many, many years.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

RP: What did you, what was your responsibilities on the farm? You mentioned that you helped pick sugar beets, I imagine you also had a regular schedule for milking the cows.

FK: Oh, yeah, ever morning, every night. We had to get up at five in the morning, and then around five in the evening we always had to milk the cows. So we never could stay, if we went up to the mountains, we had to be back before five, and we never could stay overnight with friends or anything like that. But milking, and when it was potato harvest time we had to haul potatoes and stack hay. Somehow, when you stack hay, you form a nice, it looked like a loaf of bread. For some reason, I got stuck with it and my older sister, and she and I got stuck with -- somehow I could make the haystack look even. But I still can't believe we did all that, 'cause sometimes we were twenty, twenty-five feet up, hauling, making the haystack, 'cause Dad would make the first cutting, and maybe it'd be three or four cuttings. The second cutting he would put on top, third cutting, and so by the time the third cutting went on top of the same haystack, we were way out there. But my sister, neither of us ever fell, I don't know how or why, but we were lucky.

RP: Besides milk cows, you had other animals, chickens?

FK: Yeah, and of course, during the war, I was in high school taking FFA, and I had a bunch of pigs. At one time, I had over a hundred pigs, and they got, we had irrigation ditches, and they were sort of raised. Those crazy pigs got out and they started rooting around and completely flattened the irrigation ditch. And I had to take a shovel and do all the repair by myself. That was my responsibility since it was my pigs. But I remember going to the county fair once, and I raised one of the pigs for the ag. class in school, the FFA, and I took two of 'em to the county fair and showed 'em. And on the way home, we stopped at a station and hosed 'em down to keep 'em cool. We got home and there was only one pig in the truck. And I thought, "Oh, my god." Of course, I didn't know which pig it was, whether it was mine or whether it belonged to the school. But luckily, a neighbor that lived about two miles east of our farm called and said, "Did you lose a pig?" [Laughs] I said, "Yeah, we lost a pig," and we went over and picked it up. It wasn't hurt, how it jumped off of the big farm truck, and I don't know how it did it, but that was kind of scary for a while there. But that one pig really didn't belong to me. And then we raised some beef animals to show at the county fair and the state fair. And my brother, my older brother, he, we showed some of our dairy, Guernsey, dairy cows at the state fair in Pueblo.

RP: Did you win any awards there?

FK: Huh?

RP: Did you win any awards for your...

FK: Oh, yeah, yeah. I know my brother, he, one cow was the grand champion, so he won a calf. You probably should be interviewing him.

RP: Is that Ben?

FK: No, it was Harry.

RP: Oh, that's Harry.

FK: Although Ben was showing cows, too.

RP: So that was one of your...

FK: Harry was kind of the showman. [Laughs] Of course, I, usually I stayed home and, Mom and I stayed home and milked cows.

RP: You were one of the primary milkers.

FK: And my sister Martha.

RP: Where did the milk, where did you ship it to?

FK: Yeah, we shipped the milk to Denver. They came by and picked up, we had these big, ten-gallon milk cans. You know, I think earlier I had told you that we were restricted to a 50-mile radius? When I was talking to my brother, he said it was a 25-mile radius. And so to go to Denver, we had to go to the County Seat, which was in Greeley, Colorado, 20 miles, to get permission to come back and to go to Denver. So I didn't realize... of course, the only time we went to Denver was to go to the dentist, which we hated. [Laughs] I think I still have some of his fillings, though, and that was 70 years ago.

RP: That's good work. Other than the kids and your mom, did you hire any seasonal labor on the farm?

FK: Yeah, we usually had a family from Mexico, they came and lived in the house and then during the winter they would usually go back to Mexico. Yeah, they were a big help. But I know, I guess during the early '30s, people would be working from farm to farm looking for work, and so we would always have stray people working for a day or two, working for their food and a place to sleep.

RP: How many years do you recall this Mexican family migrating up to work on the farm?

FK: I think when I, when I left the farm in '46 to go to college, this Mexican fellow, Nasayo, was living there and working. So they... and I don't know how much, how many years longer they stayed, but probably up until about 1950 or so.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

RP: I know there wasn't much time to have fun, but when you did have some time and you weren't working on the farm, what did you do to have fun, Frank?

FK: Oh, the only time I guess that I remember is Fourth of July, and occasionally we would go up to the mountains and have a picnic at home. But...

RP: You mentioned you used to ice skate, too.

FK: Yeah, we had a little pond near our farm, we'd go ice skating, there was an irrigation ditch that would freeze, and we would try to skate on that. In fact, when I first started dating my wife, we have a picture of us on a pond with ice skates. And for the life of us, we can't remember who was there with a camera. [Laughs] And then we used to go roller skating, and sometimes the Japanese group would have a social hour. I remember it had, we would take a box lunch, and the girls would take a box lunch, and the guys would bid on it. Of course, I always wanted to buy the box that my wife Gladys took, but some of my friends knew that, too, and so they purposely, they would try to outbid me. [Laughs] That was... and then occasionally go see a movie, but that was usually, usually after I started dating my wife.

RP: When did you start dating her?

FK: It was right after I finished high school. I started college right away and came back. We started in the summer, and my two sisters wanted to go on a church picnic. I didn't want to, but they wanted to go. So they wanted me to drive, so I drove. And about the end of the picnic, my sisters had found other rides to go home because the picnic was up in the mountains west of Denver. And I was sitting in the car by myself, and I looked over, and there was my future wife and the neighbor kid sitting there, and I said, "Hey, did you want a ride back with me?" 'cause I knew they had other... and so they said, "Yeah." And halfway down the mountain, the car in front stopped and the other neighbor guy that was in the car, his brother's girlfriend had left a sweater or jacket up in the mountains, but her boyfriend wasn't there. And so the guy, the brother decided, felt that he had to go back to help her find it. So that left the two of us, and we went to the amusement park and said we would meet 'em there and then we'd go see a movie. Well, we waited and waited, and never showed up, so we went to see the movie. And then I got accused of stealing his girlfriend, and of course, they weren't dating or anything. [Laughs] I got up enough nerve to call and ask if she'd like to go see a movie, and she said she couldn't because she had to cut lettuce. And it was the Fourth of July, so I thought, "Well, that was a polite refusal." I never would have called her again, I don't think, but luckily for me, she wrote a letter explaining why she couldn't go. And then I realized, hey, when lettuce is ready to harvest, it doesn't know that it's Fourth of July. So I knew she was telling the truth. And so then that gave me enough nerve to call her again, and that was the first and only girl I ever dated. Four years later we got married. [Laughs] And we'll be married fifty-eight years in December.

RP: Congratulations.

FK: So I was lucky.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

RP: Well, to stay on the topic of coming together, how did your mom and dad meet?

FK: They met, they were, they were all "picture brides." Most all of the older Japanese couples, they were by "picture brides." But we knew one Japanese family in Fort Lupton, my father-in-law went with his friend to go to meet his "picture bride" in Seattle, and she was a very unattractive gal, and so she had sent someone else's picture. And when she got off the boat and they met, this guy says, "No way am I gonna marry her." Well, my father-in-law said, "Look, you can't embarrass her and send her back to Japan." And so he reluctantly agreed to marry her. They ended up with seven kids, so they must have gotten together at least seven times. [Laughs] But most all, all of them... although Mom and Dad, they weren't "picture bride" because they both lived in Fort Lupton.

RP: They lived in Fort Lupton. So how did they meet?

FK: Well, their marriage was arranged, yeah.

RP: And who would normally arrange it? It would be the parents?

FK: Or a close family friend.

RP: In Japan there was sort of a go-between.

FK: Yeah, and actually, I think Gladys' older brothers, the marriage were arranged. And even Dad, I think he wanted to marry someone else, but she had to marry someone else. So he married, he married Mom.

RP: And that tradition kind of began to sort of fall apart in your generation, didn't it?

FK: Yeah.

RP: Obviously it was different for you, just found each other.

FK: Yeah, definitely.

RP: It was that picnic.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

RP: Frank, I wanted to ask you about the community around your dad's farm. Who were your neighbors, do you recall?

FK: Well, let's see. Three of our neighbors were Japanese, but then the rest were white. Oh, we forgot, we were gonna bring a picture of... in the summertime, we used to have to go to Japanese school. But it's always surprising how many Japanese there were in Fort Lupton/Platteville area. Because in this one group picture, there must be close to seventy-five kids. Now, now you can count on two hands, just about, how many families are left.

RP: Yeah, it really became established as a farming area for Japanese.

FK: Although during the war, we weren't allowed to meet. I think they were, they were only allowed three cars in one yard, and stuff like that. It never affected us, it never seemed to. But I think my wife's family, they were always entertaining different people.

RP: Other than Japanese Americans and the Caucasian community, were there any other ethnic groups that lived and worked in Lupton, Fort Lupton area?

FK: We never, there were no African Americans, there were no Chinese, there weren't any other Asian groups there, either. So just Japanese, the whites and Mexican families.

RP: Was there a certain degree of cooperation between those communities, particularly the whites and the Japanese American farmers?

FK: Yeah.

RP: In terms of farming, helping each other out on the farm. Socially, also, as well.

FK: Not socially, but Dad... of course, like I mentioned earlier, he always wanted to be more like Americans, so he and Mom were one of the first Japanese couples to be married in the Methodist church. So he had a lot of, because he could speak English, he had a lot of American friends. He'd always go in and have a cup of coffee with them. And I know right after the war, this Mr. Brewster who owned a Ford motor company, he sold the first Ford car to Dad. And like my brother was saying, Dad was so proud of it, he's bragging to everyone, and it made the whites very angry. [Laughs] 'Cause they couldn't understand why he would sell to a Japanese person.

RP: Even to your dad?

FK: Uh-huh. But Dad had been buying stuff from him, and they were always good friends, I guess.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

RP: What grade school did you attend, Frank?

FK: It was Platteville grade school. Went all twelve years at Platteville.

RP: Was that the only school in the community?

FK: Yeah, and then the nearest one was, would have been in Fort Lupton. And I was talking to my brother and asking if there was any prejudice when the war started, and apparently there were, some of his classmates were, got pretty mean and called them names and stuff. But I don't remember a single one of my classmates... I know there were a couple of Germans, when the war started, they started calling themselves Russians. [Laughs] They didn't want to admit that they were Germans. But all you had to, need was their name, you know it was German. [Laughs]

RP: How far was school from your farm?

FK: About 5 miles. So we got, there was a school bus every day. I remember in my senior year, another friend and I, we were sitting behind a kid and he had big ears like me. We were sitting there flicking his ears, and finally the bus driver stopped. And the bus driver happened to be the superintendent of the school. And so he, the little kid turned around and said that I did it. Of course, it was my buddy, but anyhow, the bus driver told me to stop it, stop, and he kept, started driving. About a mile from the school, he stopped the bus and he made me get off and walk to school. And he said, "When you get to school, I want you to come to my office." So I was all prepared to give him a nasty speech and all that. I went into his office and there he was, a great big smile on his face and said, "Go to class." He was just having a lot of fun, I think. We didn't dare do too many bad things because I had too many brothers and sisters who could tell on us. [Laughs]

I remember once riding the school bus, and it got stuck in the snow. And the school, this school bus driver then was, he was a judge in town. And so all of us, we got out and we told him to, "Okay, go ahead," so we all held the bus back, and we told him to back up, and we all pushed. It's a wonder we didn't get run over, you know, if the bus had actually backed up. But eventually we let the bus get out, and we got out and went to school. But those were about the only ornery things that we ever did.

RP: Do you have any other memories of your school?

FK: Well, I remember my senior class, they had a "senior sneak day." They, I was, I didn't want to jeopardize my scholarship, possibility of a scholarship or anything, so I was the only one in my class that didn't skip school. The rest of 'em had skipped school and went down to the river and messed around, I guess. But my classmates weren't mad at me or anything, I don't know, I guess they just knew that I wouldn't.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: You said that you went to Japanese language school.

FK: Uh-huh, during the summer.

RP: During the summer. And where was that school held?

FK: The school was in Fort Lupton. It used to be the old high school, I guess, and then when they built the newer high school, it was a huge building that they, and there was an old bachelor who lived there, he was a caretaker. And we had classes there, and we'd have programs to celebrate the flower festival and things like that. But I wish they had restored or saved that building, but they tore it down because it was run down. But lot of good memories there. I remember mostly the lunches that Mom used to make. [Laughs] You know, rice balls and stuff. And my wife was going to, she was going to school there, too, but I don't remember her. And then later, I used to hear about her. She was always, whenever you talked about pretty girls, that's who we talked about. Never dreamed that someday... of course, she never dreamed that someday she'd be married to an old man, too. [Laughs]

RP: How far did you get in Japanese school and what was your attitude about going?

FK: I must have only gone... see, they went from the first through the eighth grade, and I think I did that, I might have gone as high as the fifth grade. I don't remember much of what I was supposed to learn, but it was just something that we were told we had to do.

RP: So going to school the whole summer, you really had no chance to take a vacation.

FK: No, not really.

RP: You told me earlier that the only real first vacation you had was when you went to college?

FK: Yeah, so having to work so hard on the farm, to me, when I started college, that was a vacation.

RP: And what religious tradition were you raised in?

FK: Well, Mom was a, we were all supposedly brought up as Buddhists, but Dad, he didn't care whether we went to the Buddhist church or not, so we would go occasionally. And occasionally we would go with some friends to the Methodist church, but not very often. But I always used to wonder why my classmates, some were Catholic and some were Methodist. And they would talk bad about each other, and I couldn't quite understand why. But I guess you still, you still see some of that.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: You mentioned that your dad was very, sort of, very American in his outlook and his perspective. And did that sort of translate into an upbringing that was kind of bicultural? Did you celebrate Christmas, for example, or other, sort of American holidays or traditions?

FK: Yeah, we tried to celebrate all the holidays. Of course, Christmas stocking, maybe an orange and a few nuts, but yeah, we celebrated all of the traditional holidays.

RP: Any particular ones that stand out in your mind?

FK: Only one is the Fourth of July because it was, that's when we, they would buy soda pop. And I remember I loved orange soda pop. We never bought it the rest of the year, but Fourth of July, that was really a treat.

RP: Was there a firework show, or how was this July Fourth celebrated?

FK: No, we would buy firecrackers and blow up a tin can and stuff, but we never, we never went to a fireworks show or anything. It was pretty quiet, actually.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: Let's get into discussing Pearl Harbor and the wartime, the war years in Colorado a little bit, Frank. First of all, you were about, what, fourteen when the war broke out.

FK: Let's see, I was, I must have been thirteen, I guess. Probably just turned thirteen. I was in the eighth grade, just started eighth grade.

RP: What do you, do you recall the day that December 7th, and what was your reaction and that of your parents, the members of the community, Japanese American community?

FK: The only thing I remember, Dad used to tell us how good the Japanese soldiers were. So I remember thinking that, "Boy, the United States is gonna have a hard time fighting Japan because the soldiers were such tough soldiers." But that feeling didn't last too long. [Laughs]

RP: What was the reaction, were you treated any differently after the war began in terms of classmates?

FK: No, my classmates, I don't remember any discrimination. My brothers remembered, but I really can't recall.

RP: Did any of your teachers or school superintendent make a special effort to address...

FK: No. I know my, I think my wife's superintendent did, and you'll probably hear that from her, but no, it just, they just treated us like anyone else as far as I can remember. Except for the, now, the principal that my oldest brother had, he was the one that refused, at first refused to award him the valedictorian. But by the time I graduated -- and it was only just two years' difference -- he wasn't there.

RP: There was a change within those two years. You were valedictorian in 1946.

FK: Yeah. Yeah, 'cause my brother graduated in '44, and '45, and I was in '46.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

RP: You mentioned about restrictions that were placed on Japanese American families. The mileage travel...

FK: Yeah. I thought it was 50 miles, but my brother thought it was more, closer to 25 miles. So that's, that's why we had to get permission and had to go to the courthouse, I guess, in Greeley, which is 20 miles, to get permission to go 30 miles to Denver, which seemed like a waste of gas.

RP: And that was a restriction that was placed specifically on Japanese American families? You don't know if German families or any other...

FK: As far as I know...

RP: ...Italians were affected by that restriction. The other restriction that you mentioned was this restriction on the number of cars that could be in a certain place at a certain time.

FK: You weren't supposed to have more than three cars in your yard. I guess they thought we were plotting to bomb something. [Laughs]

RP: And do you recall anybody actually, local sheriff or police coming out to enforce that restriction?

FK: Never to our, never to our house.

RP: Well, the way of minimizing group interaction, the number of people that could congregate in a certain place at a certain time.

FK: Yeah, although I brought a picture of my cousin's funeral, that happened in... well, they were killed February 9, 1942, and I have a group picture at the Buddhist church. And so they, they apparently, I guess that was okay, if it was a funeral.

RP: And can you tell, share with us that story about the untimely death of your cousin?

FK: Well, my cousin, the father, two daughters and two sons were in the front of a, of a farm truck, and they came to this, to the railroad track. And for some reason, he didn't see the train coming, and all five of 'em were killed. And that was... I know my wife, one of her classmates I guess, said, "Well, that's five less Japs we have to worry about." But I didn't -- and my classmates, they were really worried, they thought it was my family. So they were really concerned and worried, but no one, no one said, "Good riddance," or anything like that.

RP: There were other, talking with you earlier, there were other instances of war hysteria or paranoia that kind of pervaded even your community. One of those instances you mentioned to me were the... a traditional part of farm life was to have your bath, your ofuro.

FK: Yeah.

RP: And you mentioned to me that you would make this fire --

FK: Yeah, they were outside baths, so you had to build a fire underneath in the tub, metal, galvanized iron tub. And some people thought that by, when you're building the fire, you were sending signals. [Laughs] I don't know to whom, but they... but I guess this happened more on the West Coast. They thought that they were signaling the Japanese in some way.

RP: And there were individuals in your community who took a different position in terms of vegetable farm, vegetable farms. Can you tell us about, there was some produce men who refused to take Japanese produce?

FK: Yeah, and yet, without the Japanese farmers' produce, he wouldn't have been able to make a living. But some of 'em, what they, instead of, he had his business in Fort Lupton, and what the Japanese did was they just hauled it to Denver. I don't know how long his hatred lasted, but after the war, he was, he was still in the business, and he was very, very good to the Japanese.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

RP: Were you aware at all of what was happening to Japanese Americans on the West Coast, being evacuated and sent to camps?

FK: No, not really. I knew the two families that lived on our farm, we knew they were from California. But I really wasn't that aware of, that so many of the others were placed in these internment camps. I didn't even know, I had no idea that there was this camp in Amache in southern Colorado.

RP: Let's talk a little bit about these two families that ended up working, or staying on your farm, do you know roughly when they arrived?

FK: It was probably in 1942, later. And I guess they stayed about a year, and then they must have gone on to neighboring farms, especially the ones that they were related to.

RP: What were their, do you remember the names of the families?

FK: There was a Munesato family and a Kawasohei family. And I really, they, the guys, they were much older than we were. They were maybe ten years older so we really didn't do anything together.


FK: We lived on this, our farmhouse in, like, 1930. It was, I think it was a... one, two... a three bedroom house, and then Dad had built a new house in the same yard. And so when we moved into the new yard, new house, the old house was vacant. And so that's when they moved into that house. In a way, it was actually a better house than the new house, roomier.

RP: And did they have their own plot of land within your dad's home?

FK: Yeah, Dad gave him a piece of -- and I don't know how many acres he gave him, and I don't know what they raised, but... so I always thought that they were just laborers on the farm, but then when I talked to my brother, he said no, that Dad had given him a plot of land, and they worked it. Of course, they probably weren't from the farm, so they probably wouldn't have known how to, how to farm in a large way.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

RP: How would you characterize... I know you were pretty young, but these, all these Japanese American families fleeing the West Coast and finding safe haven in Colorado? Were they, how were they accepted by established Japanese, established Japanese farming communities? Were they seen as sort of newcomers, outsiders, kind of like Okies, when you kind of look back on it and talk to your brothers and...

FK: No, I guess we just accepted them as relatives of our friends, 'cause most of them who came, at least in that area, were relatives, were somehow related to the farmers who were there. So to us, it was just, "Well, the relatives came to live with 'em."

RP: Was there any specific labor camp that was established for Japanese farmers, or the folks coming from the West Coast?

FK: No, no labor camp. There was a labor camp for German POWs, and there was a labor camp for Mexican laborers, but there weren't any camps for the Japanese.

RP: So they just settled on these individual farms? And do you know, of these two families that you hosted on your father's farm, did they, did they stay in Colorado after the war?

FK: No, they, in fact, one of the sons married a local girl, and no, they, both of 'em went back to California after the war. Quite a few of 'em stayed in Colorado. They had bought farms and so they stayed.

RP: To go a little bit more in depth about the German POWs, your dad actually used...

FK: Yeah, we used them as laborers on the farm, and we would go to, they lived in Brighton, which is six miles beyond Fort Lupton. So we would go up, take our farm truck and bring back eight or ten POWs. There would be a guard, I don't know if his rifle was loaded or not, but he walked around. And they were a big help. We'd always give him rolls and pop to drink and stuff. They, yeah, it was... and one of 'em had a, had a relative, he had some relatives, I think, living in Cleveland or Chicago or somewhere, so he could speak English. So that was... but I remember one time when I saw a whole bunch of, they were circling around throwing clods of dirt at something. Went over there and it was a toad. They had never seen a toad before. [Laughs] That was, I guess they probably weren't from the farm in Germany. But they were real, they were real nice, they were anxious to go home.


RP: Frank, we were talking a little bit about the German POW laborers that worked on your farm. Can you tell me --

FK: Yeah, we brought them over primarily to help us harvest potatoes, 'cause we had to pick the potatoes by hand. We had a piece of machinery that would dig up the potatoes and then, but then you had to then go around, and we had a belt that we wore and then a sack between our legs and we would pick the potatoes and throw it in the sack.

RP: And they worked just for one summer, or how long?

FK: You know, I don't remember. No, it just, I don't remember how many summers they came out, probably a couple of summers. But...

RP: Did many, many farmers in that Fort Lupton/Platteville area use POW labor?

FK: I think so, yeah. I know my in-laws did.

RP: There was a labor shortage.

FK: Yeah, because most of the sons were, had gone in the service.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

RP: Right, speaking of that, do you remember any kids, people that you're acquainted with that were drafted or volunteered to serve in the 442nd?

FK: Yeah, they were, I think they were all volunteers. Well, no, I take that back. I'm not sure. But I know a couple of, several of our neighbors, they were in the 442, the famous 442 in Italy. But as far as I know, of all the guys that went into the service, they all came back. Yeah, there was a, Andrew Watada, but he was killed during the Korean War. But the others that were, that fought in World War II, they all came back, which is kind of remarkable, I guess. My oldest brother, he was, age-wise he was eligible, but he had real bad asthma, so he was, they didn't want him. He was a 4-F.

RP: That was Harry?

FK: No, Ben. Harry went into the army in, right after he, well, he came to the University of Colorado for one semester and then he volunteered and went into the, to the army.

RP: And this was during the war?

FK: No, it was right after the war.

RP: And did he, was he shipped to Japan?

FK: No, he went to, he went to Italy.

RP: What capacity did he serve in?

FK: He was a first lieutenant, and he -- I should have brought that article. He was in charge of protecting Triest, and his job was to keep Yugoslavians out. And here he was five feet two, and these great big Yugoslavians came, I guess, and he held them back, and he made the national news.

RP: You say they were trying to hold back the Yugoslavians?

FK: Yeah, they were trying to enter, I don't know why. But he, he kept them out. And so they, he was considered a hero.

RP: And his picture was flashed all over the papers?

FK: Yeah, uh-huh. Oh, I was gonna bring that and I forgot.

RP: We'll be back in Denver on July 4th. Another question about wartime in the Fort Lupton/Platteville area, were there individuals or community organizations that you recall that made a greater effort to show patriotism and loyalty during the war years? Any... buying war bonds...

FK: Oh, yeah, we all bought war bonds, yeah. So we helped as much as we could. Of course the organizations really weren't allowed to meet, to organize, so we didn't as an organization. But like the JACL, they weren't allowed to.

RP: The other effort that folks always recall was recycling drives, collecting aluminum, that type of thing. Do you recall doing any of that through school?

FK: Yeah, I guess we did, but not too much. We didn't, didn't collect that, or couldn't collect that much.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

RP: The other thing, another issue that came up for Japanese American families was their connections with Japanese culture and specifically even before the war began, people began burning items or burying things that had any connection with Japan. Can you recall that occurring on your...

FK: I think all families had a picture of the emperor, and everyone that I know, we burned 'em. [Laughs] Yeah, we didn't have, we didn't want anything like that around, so we burned 'em.

RP: Any other items that you recall being burned?

FK: No, that was the only thing.

RP: Also, this category of contraband items that needed to be turned in to local police agencies, and many Japanese American --

FK: Yeah, we had to turn in our, if you had a shotgun or a rifle. We had a, Dad had an old beat up twelve-gauge shotgun, we turned that in. Had a box camera, we turned that in, and then I think we had an old radio that might have had a shortwave radio, so they took all that. We got the shotgun and camera back after the war, though. But my cousin, he was quite, he would build these stock and rifles and stuff, and he had a real expensive German camera because he was a photographer, too. They took all those, but he never got any of those back. So he lost, I don't know how many rifles and his expensive camera. So someone got away with some pretty good stuff. [Laughs]

RP: Do you recall the bank accounts of your parents and other Isseis being frozen?

FK: No, I didn't know until after Dad died that when the first five of us were born, he would send, he sent a hundred dollars back to the Sumitomo Bank in Japan. And I don't know how he could afford a hundred dollars back in the 1920s, but anyhow, after I found out, I wrote to the Sumitomo Bank. And I checked with my bank first, and they said, "Well, that hundred dollars today, it should be worth well over $75,000." So I thought, "Well, that would be great," so I wrote to them, and they said, "If you'll send us fifty-five dollars, we'll send you some information, but we have no record of your account." And I don't know if that's true or whether they've lost during the war or what, but someone got away with at least five hundred dollars. And back, 'cause he sent it in 1928, so it would have been seventy years later. Of course, I don't know what sort of account he put it in, but that was, that was a disappointment. [Laughs]

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

KP: Do you know what the purpose of him sending the money back for was?

FK: I have no, I don't know. Yeah, I don't know why he sent the money, because I'm sure he didn't think we were gonna go back and live there and things. I don't know why.

RP: Did he send money back to any existing members of his family?

FK: Just to the first five, and then probably decided, hey, with all these kids coming, he can't afford it anymore. [Laughs] I don't know.

RP: But you don't know of him having any assets in local banks in Colorado that, there was money he couldn't get to.

FK: No, he, with such a big family, he didn't know what a savings account was. But no, and he didn't have any problems losing money or someone trying to take it or anything.

RP: How did wartime, other wartime restrictions that everybody faced, was rationing of gasoline...

FK: We didn't, we really, because it's such a big family, we had the stamps that they gave for meat and stuff like that, we always -- and sugar. We always had more than enough. And so we never had to, had to suffer on that account.

RP: It sounds like you were relatively self-sufficient in your ability to produce food on the farm.

FK: We didn't produce that much. We had all the milk in the world, but we really didn't drink that much, either. Of course, we're probably lactose intolerant, so we can't drink that much milk.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

RP: Frank, you mentioned about your dad's Americanism, and did he eventually become a naturalized citizen when the opportunity was given to Issei?

FK: Yeah, he really jumped at it, and he was the first Japanese in Weld County to be naturalized. And he was, and so he really studied, and when he took the exam, he was really disappointed. He said, "They didn't ask me anything." And he was set to answer all kinds of things, so he was, he was really disappointed. Mom, she took her exam a few years later, she got hers, too. But yeah, he was very proud when he became an American citizen.

RP: Sounds like he would have become a citizen much sooner if he was allowed to.

FK: Yeah, because he tried to volunteer for the First World War, but he was too young. He was only sixteen, and he tried to volunteer for the Second World War, but he was deaf, hard of hearing, so he couldn't, there was no way that he could pass the physical.

RP: Well, that sure shows a lot right there.

FK: Yeah, he was willing to go if he could.

RP: Let's...

FK: You know, one thing, speaking of Dad, when I got my commission and I eventually retired as a full colonel, he was more proud of that, of my being an officer or a colonel than my PhD or teaching at a university or being a professor. He was really proud of the fact that I was in the army and became an officer. [Laughs]

RP: And fulfilled part of his...

FK: I think that's something that he wished he could have done, too.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

RP: Let's go on to how your life journey went after you graduated.

FK: Well, went up to Fort Collins, it used to be called Colorado A&M, Aggies, and I was seventeen when I started. And my advisor said, "Well, because you're Japanese, you won't be able to get a job. Just take a course in general ag. and go back on the farm. And being seventeen, I believed him, and so that's what I majored in, general ag. But then I took a course in animal nutrition, and then when I took advanced ROTC, this was in field artillery of all things, I went home and I was waiting for my orders to go into the army. And I got a call from my nutrition professor asking me if I wanted to take a course in, to do graduate work in animal nutrition. So I went up and decided I would, and I wrote to the army and they revoked my orders. And so then I was able to get my degree, and then I decided to work on my PhD. And it was while I was working on my PhD that my draft board sent me a notice saying that I'm going to be drafted. And I wrote back and said that, "No, you can't because I'm an officer in ROTC." And they said, "No, we can still draft you." Well, so I went, took my physical, and the usual, "Hey, get over here and do this, do that." And in the meantime, the draft board sent a notice to my kid brother who was also going to college, and he said, "Mind your own business, I'm a college student." [Laughs] That made 'em mad, so they drafted him right away. Well, that fulfilled the draft board, and so that gave me time to enlist or volunteer for the army as an officer. So I really should thank my kid brother, I guess, for being such a nasty kid. [Laughs] So then everything turned out. Although I did, going back to the ROTC, I did have... they wouldn't accept Japanese in the advanced ROTC until after the war. And so as far as I know, I was the first Japanese to be allowed into the advanced ROTC, and the first one to be commissioned as a second lieutenant. But I took ROTC, actually, for the hundred dollars a month. No, it wasn't a hundred, I think it was thirty dollars a month that we got. I just, I was working myself through school plus a scholarship. But that thirty dollars was quite a bit back then. And so that's why I decided to take advanced ROTC. Now, I'm really glad I did. Now I have retired military privileges out at Buckley Air Force base and go once a week, whether we need to or not.

RP: And you went on to Cornell?

FK: Uh-huh. I went to Cornell for a couple years and then that's when they tried to draft me. And so then I was stationed at the medical nutrition research lab here at Fitzsimmons, and spent three years, and then I had one more year to finish my PhD. So I went back, finished, and then from New York, accepted a job at the navy radiological defense lab in San Francisco studying the effects of nutrition on whole body radiation. And then from there, I was there three years. Before I left Cornell, I told my professor that -- I was always nervous in front of a crowd, and so I told him, "If you hear of a teaching job, let me know." I thought maybe becoming a teacher, I would get over my nervousness. And so three years later, he wrote and said that there was this opening in Southern Illinois University, and so I ended up there.

KP: You talked about the radiological lab?

FK: Defense lab?

KP: Were you studying hypothetical cases, or were you actually looking at cases that people, of people who had been irradiated?

FK: No, we were, what we were doing, we were radiating rats and mice. And my research had to do with what difference would the, what difference would nutrition have on the survival of the rats and mice. And of course, when you're radiated, when your animal's radiated, even whole body, when a person has cancer, one of the first cells that are affected is your, the lining of your intestinal tract because it's always being sloughed off and regenerating. And the radiation stops the radiation, and so I knew that... and so I did studies with high protein, high vitamin C diets, and it seemed to help.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

RP: You were the first Japanese American couple to live in Carbondale?

FK: Yeah, when we went to Carbondale, Illinois --

RP: Tell us about what that was like.

FK: Yeah, we were the first Japanese couple there, and we had all kinds of stares, people would stare at us and they would ask my wife, "Where did you learn to speak English?" "How come you have round eyes?" "How do you cook rice?" But by the time we left, twenty years later, twenty-three years later, there were all kinds of Asian types there. But it was, in a way, it was kind of nice to be, to be different. Our daughter went to the filling station once to buy gas and she was yakking with her friends and forgot to pay and drove off. And then they, when they realized what they did, they went back, and said, "Oh, you're Dr. Konishi's daughter." So they didn't, they weren't mad at all. But when I spent a year at the University of Hawaii, and for the first time we were in a place where there were so many Japanese and Asians, and that was quite an experience. When we took the kids, when we started school, we said, "We'll pick you up." They wore a white blouse, and at the end of the, when the school ended and the doors opened, hundreds of Japanese kids, girls with white blouses and black hair came out, and we never found our daughter. And so she and our son walked home. [Laughs] But by the time the year was up, they were ready to go back to Carbondale. They thought it was kind of special to be, not be just one of hundreds or thousands.

RP: You told me that your, that your daughter, when she entered high school, had a difficult time in Carbondale.

FK: Yeah, they had just, just entered right at the, the black high school, they had their own schools. And they had just integrated the schools and they couldn't understand how someone who was obviously so different had white friends, had straight black hair, so they would, especially the black girls, they really started picking on her. The black guys tried to, tried to date her, and we said, "No, she's too young, she isn't allowed to date anyone," which she didn't. But the teachers were afraid to do anything, the counselors wouldn't do anything, the nurse saw her getting beat up and didn't do a thing, the principal, they were all afraid. And finally, we even went to the black church, and, to tell 'em, to show 'em that, we were wondering why there was so much hatred amongst the blacks. We later found out it was the minister's daughter who was the ringleader, picking on our daughter. But our daughter went to her twentieth high school reunion several years ago, and this black gal was there, and they were all real friendly. In spite of all this, our daughter has never carried a grudge. And if you dare to use the "N-word" in front of her, she'll let you know in no uncertain terms that that's not a nice thing to say. And so she's very forgiving, she always has been. And now, living in, near Nashville, Tennessee, she's surrounded, and now she has a granddaughter that's half black. Just the cutest thing in the world.

RP: That's the daughter that married the --

FK: The country songwriter, yeah.

RP: Can you share that story with us?

FK: Yeah, well, when our daughter gave us a call one day and said that, "I could marry this lawyer from Cleveland or this country songwriter who drives around with his house in the back of his pickup, well, guess who she married? And we didn't know anything about country music, so I quickly subscribed to a country music magazine. But before the first issue came, they had gotten married. And of course, the only country songwriter or country singer we knew was Dolly Parton, and maybe Glen Campbell, I guess. But now we know a few more. [Laughs] But it's been... and we used to visit them and he would have some of his country singers' friends around, and we would have our own little concert in the backyard of their house, so the neighbors would all come and have a grand 'ol time.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

RP: How many kids did you have?

FK: We have three kids, two daughters and a son. Our son and daughter, the youngest daughter, they live Scottsdale, Arizona. He works for Dial & Company, and have you ever had the Dial foam soap for your hands? The foam? He helped, he was one of the developers of that.

RP: And how, what approach have you taken to raising your, raising your children? Did you try to create an awareness of their roots and culture, or just let them discover it on their own?

FK: Yeah, we, of course, I gave all of the credit to my wife, but I, when they were, when they started dating, and of course, there weren't any Japanese to date, I said, I told my kids, "We've been a pure race for thousands of years, and here you guys are gonna get married and you're gonna have a bunch of mongrels." [Laughs] And they said, "Dad, if you wanted us to marry Japanese, we should have lived in an area where there were Japanese. Why didn't we live in California, or maybe even in Denver?" And couldn't say a word. And all three of 'em are married to, none of 'em are married to Japanese. In fact, they've never dated Japanese. Except in Hawaii, our oldest daughter went to a couple dances, and she was a head taller than her friend who went to the dance with her. She was taller than most of the boys in class. She was 5'5", but then the guys in her class were closer to five feet, I guess. [Laughs] But no, they, we regret not teaching them how to speak Japanese even. Yeah, they, they just don't know how to speak, and that was a mistake on our part. We should have taught 'em a little bit, anyway.

RP: You should have forced them to go to Japanese summer school.

FK: [Laughs] Well, they didn't... yeah, of course they quit, after the war, they never had it anymore.

RP: Right, because of the restrictions on gatherings.

FK: But even after the war, they could have started it but...

RP: It didn't start up again?

FK: ...I don't think they did. Yeah. I know when we used to come back to visit the grandparents, they would be talking to Gladys' mother who couldn't speak any English. My mom could understand most of what they were saying, so Gladys would stand behind, behind her mother, and she would tell our kids what she was saying so they could answer.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

RP: When did you return back to Colorado?

FK: Pardon?

RP: When did you return back to Colorado?

FK: We came back -- I took an early retirement and we came back in 1984. We were thinking about going to the Northwest until Mount St. Helens blew up, we said, "That's enough of that. Let's just stop in Colorado." But it, we're glad we did. It gave us a chance to know our families again, 'cause we'd been away for so long. We really, in fact, we took care of my mother-in-law for three years, and then she went into a nursing home for a year and a half or so. But it gave us a chance to, for us to know our, both of our families and for them to know us, too.

RP: Tell us a little bit about, what happened to your grandfather on your dad's side? Did he...

FK: Yeah, he died way back in 1922. He and, he and his son-in-law both died in 1922, and they're both buried in Fort Lupton. I thought they had died in the flu epidemic, but 1922 was a little after. So I think one of 'em died of a ruptured appendix and I don't know what the other one...

RP: And how long did your father continue his dairy farm after you left?

FK: Well, let's see. I think he sold the farm about 1962. I think that's when, yeah, we all left, so he had no one else to help on the farm.

RP: And you, you return to your roots pretty regularly in Fort Lupton/Platteville area. What draws you back there?

FK: Well, to Platteville, the high school has an alumni banquet every year. And so since we've been back, we go every year. And in Fort Lupton, there's a Buddhist church there. We belong to the Denver one but we go to the Fort Lupton one because they only meet once a month and have a real nice potluck. And I think the minister knows that, too, so he comes regular to Fort Lupton. And then when we go to Fort Lupton, we know everyone there, and it's getting smaller and smaller. In fact, my uncle is the oldest Japanese left in Fort Lupton, at ninety-two. But he could tell you all kinds of stories, war stories, probably.

RP: Is the old, is your father's old dairy farm still there?

FK: No, the farm is still there. The last time we visited -- it's been several years ago. The buildings, most of the buildings are there, and we heard that there was a lady living there in a wheelchair, so she couldn't, the yard was all weedy and everything. But most of the buildings are there.

RP: What kind of feelings do you have when you go back to that community where you grew up?

FK: Well, one of... I put in a, we came home from, on vacation from New York one summer, and I had helped the trailer home owner in New York set up his trailer park. And so when I came back for a two-week vacation, I told Dad that, "If you buy the materials, I'll put in a sewer system." And by hand, I took, dug the trenches, put in a big septic tank and a bleeder field out in the field, and Dad said, well, he didn't think it would work. As far as... that was back in 1953. As far as I know, it's still working. Sometimes when I go back, and then he has an old, big railroad car in the yard, and I had, I helped him build the foundation to put the railroad car on top, top of the cement foundation. I remember I worked so hard that I, I got sick even. But that was a little vacation, there was always work to do. So when I go out there, I see -- and I was the only one in the family that used to really mess around in the tool shed. I'd crank up the old forge and try to make things. And whenever the outhouse got full, for some reason, it was my job to dig a new hole, make a wooden frame so that the dirt wouldn't, the soil wouldn't fall in. And it would be so deep that I couldn't even see the, I'd be throwing the dirt out. And everyone in my family remembers that somehow it became my job to build a new toilet hole, and then to move the toilet. So I guess those were... and then having to milk the cows, the barn is still there, and having to haul the feed and stuff. I remember, I still remember all the hard work we had to do there.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

RP: A question about your involvement in Japanese American community. Did you eventually join the JACL at all?

FK: Yeah, we finally joined the JACL maybe four or five years ago. This Alley Watada that you're gonna... they joined, they talked us into it. [Laughs] And before we know it, they made Gladys the vice president, program chairman, so having to attend all kinds of things that we ordinarily wouldn't. Not too many, but you come up with all kinds of excuses why you can't go to... maybe a snowstorm or something. Yeah, so we've been pretty active and we're going to have a potluck May 31st. If you're, if you're here May 31st you're welcome to come. It's at the Beck rec. center in Aurora. But one of the things, we've been losing members because they're always, they never do anything fun. So when Gladys became program chairman, by golly, she was gonna do some, schedule some fun things. So this, we're having this potluck auction and entertainment. So hopefully we'll have a, we'll be able to attract new members and bring back some of the old members that dropped out because there was nothing to do. And I'm the auctioneer, I took a course in auctioneering in Illinois, and I use it in my classroom. Before each class, depending on the topic of discussion, I would bring in something that pertained to the subject for that day. It was a pretend auction, but I'm afraid some of the students just remember the auction and not the nutrition subject. But it was really fun. And when I told the auction, auctioneer instructor what I was gonna do, he kind of looked at me with a funny look on his face, 'cause he couldn't -- but I told him, when you teach, you teach, you try to teach facts and relationships and everything, and when you're, and so when you're trying to sell these things, and an auctioneer tries to sell things. So that's what I did. And I gave a talk at a national dietetic association, they had never heard of a nutrition auctioneer. [Laughs] In about forty-five minutes, I guess, maybe not even that long, I sold over ten thousand dollars worth of stuff. We had a Konishi reunion last summer in Los Angeles, and I knew some of the, my nephews and stuff, they were really having us over for dinner and spending a lot of money. So I suggested, "Why don't you have an auction to help pay for some of the expenses?" And so they did, and we sold 850 dollars' worth. And of course, the rest of the family had never heard me, and they were just amazed. [Laughs] "Where did you learn to talk like that?" "Why did you learn?" It was fun.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

RP: One of the, one of the efforts that JACL spearheaded in the '80s was the effort to obtain redress for Japanese Americans who had been sent to camps. And each of them received an apology, formal apology from the government, a $20,000 payment. How did you feel about that? In talking with other folks who were in Colorado and other states who were, quote, "unaffected," some supported that and others said, "Well, geez, we suffered prejudice as well. We didn't have to go to camp, but we still suffered." What's your...

FK: No, but we didn't really lose thousands of dollars like they did. Sometimes, gee, it's too bad that my wife, Gladys, who wasn't in camp, so we could have collected the $20,000, but... [laughs]. No, they deserved every penny. But we were just fortunate that we didn't have to go through that. Although, you know, several years ago we had a party, and this one guy was in camp, and he said he really enjoyed it. And that was the first time I've ever heard anyone say that. He said the meals were free, you could do anything you wanted to and it didn't cost anything. He said he really enjoyed it. But he was kind of an odd fellow anyway. So he was kind of unique, I think.

RP: Yeah. And the fact that you didn't go to camp places you at a minority of fifteen thousand Japanese Americans who, you know, stayed out of camp and led a really different life. So "fortunate" is definitely the word. Frank, are there any other stories that we haven't touched on that you might want to share with us today?

FK: One other thing, when I talked to my brother yesterday, I didn't realize that the State of Colorado were trying to pass a law, amendment, to take away Dad's -- any farm owned by a Japanese. But apparently the soldiers voted it down, yeah, but the American Legion was for it. So I told my brother, "Boy, I'm glad I never joined the American Legion." He said, well, he joined but he doesn't do anything with him. He joined because his best, one of his best friends was the head of it, American Legion, whatever they call it. Yeah, but I wasn't aware of that, either.

RP: I believe it was 1944, there was a bill in the Colorado legislature. You mentioned soldiers were against it?

FK: No, soldiers were -- yeah, were against the, they didn't want...

RP: These were soldiers who had come back from the South Pacific?

FK: Yeah, or from, I don't know. But they said that was, you know, that wasn't fair, and that wasn't right.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

FK: Yeah, I wanted to show, this is a senbei maker. My grandfather, when he came to the Americas, they went from Japan to Peru and then worked themselves up into Mexico. And in Mexico he had eight or ten of these made. And what you do is you put batter in there, and then close it and put it on top of the stove, and you have a cookie like the fortune cookie, except it would be flat. I guess they could have made it, folded it, but they kept it flat. So he had these made in Mexico, and from Mexico when he went to Arizona, he worked in the beet fields there. I don't know if I mentioned that or not, but they, they weren't paid so they weren't paid for a summer's labor in the beet fields. And so they ended up walking from Arizona to Colorado. And my grandfather who apparently was about five feet tall, carried -- and this thing is really heavy, it must weigh about five pounds or more. But he carried this whole bag of these senbei makers from Arizona to Colorado. And he apparently made some and he would sell some to the Japanese families. And I remember my grandma, and I guess Dad used to do it sometimes, too, he would make, they would make senbei and give it to us. And there was different shapes, and there were a couple of 'em on display at Ellis Island. I was mentioning earlier that on Ellis Island, there was a picture of my mom and dad when they were young. They never even came close to Ellis Island, but my ex-sister-in-law set up an exhibit of Japanese. And so she set up the exhibit with Mom and Dad's photo and some of these senbei makers. And I told her later, said, "You know, Phyllis, the senbei makers weren't made, weren't from Japan, they were made in Mexico." [Laughs] And she said, "Now you tell me." They were already in the exhibit, and I don't know how long the exhibit's gonna be.

RP: Do you have plans to donate that at some point?

FK: I don't know who donate it to.

RP: How about Manzanar?

FK: Huh?

RP: How about Manzanar National Historic Site? [Laughs] That's a, is that, that would be what a traditional senbei maker would look like?

FK: Yeah, in the old days, apparently. But some of the others were round with little dots, decorations.

RP: Great. Kirk, do you have any further questions for Frank?

KP: I don't.

RP: Frank, we want to thank you so much, it was a real honor having you here and sharing your stories.

FK: Thank you for inviting me.

RP: On behalf of the National Park Service and the Densho project, thank you again.

FK: You're welcome.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.