Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Henry Fukuhara Interview
Narrator: Henry Fukuhara
Interviewer: John Allen
Date: November 6, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-fhenry-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

JA: I'd be interested in going back and have you tell me a little bit about your family when you were a young man, where they came from, what they did.

HF: Well, my father first came to the United States in 19'- in 1898, and he did various -- he came into San Francisco. And he came with a group of his friends from Hiroshima, Japan, and he did various jobs. When I say various jobs, he worked domestic and he worked in the fruit orchards, and then I don't know how he managed but he gradually worked his way down to Southern California, and he started to grow flowers in Southern California and then he went into farming, and he went into farming and he grew potatoes and cauliflower in a community called Fruitland, which is just adjacent to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. And this is during World War I, and as all the Japanese immigrants who came to this country, they -- as soon as they made their fortune they were going to go back home. So, my father did make his fortune growing potatoes and cauliflower during that era of World War I, and then he was free to take us back home to Japan.

And at that time I was about eight years old, seven/eight years old, and I didn't know... I knew that they were getting ready to go someplace, but I didn't know what was happening. But someone came along and talked to my father and talked him into making more money since, since his friend knew that my father had the money so he talked him into going back into farming again instead of quitting and going back to Japan. So, he leased some land in what is called, what is now the Riviera Country Club, and he leased, he leased the land with several other families in that area. And there was a place called the mesa, and my father farmed the lower part where the Riviera Country Club is and five or six other farmers, they grew on the flat land called the mesa. Then he lost his shirt, so to speak, growing tomatoes, he just couldn't make, didn't make it. But everybody thought -- from my recollection of the conversation -- that he was, the tomato, the plants looked good, and all this, that he was going to have a good crop and so on. But the market wasn't good, so the tomatoes, he couldn't sell the tomatoes, so the tomatoes -- most of the tomatoes went for ketchup.

And then he had to start all over again, and I got a little ahead of myself, but when he, when he went to the what was Mandeville Canyon, which was adjacent to where the Riviera Country Club is, he built a new cottage. I call it a cottage... it's a bungalow, I should say, and that housed the family moving from Fruitland. And after he went broke there, I don't know how he, how he managed after going broke that he moved that house up to the Pacific Palisades and he managed to lease some land up there large enough that it accommodated three or four other families, and then he could only stay there for two years. But he went up there and farmed, and then he moved, and then after the two years was up, in the meantime he was taking, he was taking the produce on a Model T touring car. He would strap the, his produce, which is lima beans and zucchini squash, and he would tie those on the running board in the back, in the back seat, and then I would -- I often went with him to the market. And then on the way back from the market, he noticed a palm tree on Wiltshire Boulevard that had, that had, like nuts on it, they were palm -- they were seeds, and, and they were on the ground, some were on the ground. So he asked, he went and asked if he could have those seeds and on the way home from the market we picked those seeds up. And he planted the seeds, and then after the seeds sprouted he transplanted them into, into boxes, and then from, from there he thought of going into the nursery business.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

HF: Now we're talking about the mid-1920s, and from there we moved to Santa Monica, where I live, where I live now, and moved there in 1925. And he planted the palm trees -- he leased 5 acres of land on Marine Street. At that time -- it's all residential now -- at that time there was a dairy next-door, and there was all open land on the hillside, and he started, he planted the palm trees and then he started... and then he was doing gardening in the meantime to bring money in. So, he would get cuttings from the plants and then we would propagate them, then after they were propagated we would plant them in the field and then he had a wholesale nursery started. And by that time I was, I was going to high school, and so after that then, then the Depression came. So then he had the, he had the nursery stock but nobody was -- he would go out to try to sell them but he couldn't sell them. And at the same time I was working in the vegetable market on weekends from seven to, seven in the morning to nine at night on Saturday and Sunday and I was going to school. And this was -- I started to do that when I was thirteen years old, and during the summer, I would get a job to work during the summer, the same hours, and I would work six days out of the week. And that went, that went on until my father couldn't sell anymore merchandise, and then he thought of opening up a retail store in Los Angeles on Thirty and Fairfax, where the farmer's famous, Los Angeles Hollywood Farmer's Market is. And at the same time that my father had decided to open a nursery on Thirty and Fairfax, is when the farmer's market had opened. And at that time the farmer's market was a real farmer's market -- the farmers came in from all over and they sold their merchandise there, but today is not like that. There's no farmers come in, there's... all the produce is ordered over the phone through the central market and it's delivered there and it's sold there today.

But so we opened a nursery in 1935 and it was still, still hard times then. And then... so, my brother and I -- the two of us -- two, I had four brothers, and two, I and my brother next to me, Frank, were the two that were out of high school so we helped my father open the, open the nursery on Third Street, but then I told my father, "If I do that, then we're not going to have any cash coming in because going to, I'm not going to be working in the vegetable stand." And he said, "Well, we'll have to manage somehow." So we opened up the retail store in L.A. and then there was -- there was hardly any business to speak of, and we couldn't even pay the rent and there were, there were times when Mother would say we don't have any, we don't have any rice, or we're low on rice. So then we were hoping that we would be able to sell five dollars' worth of merchandise that we can pick up a bag of, a sack of rice on the way home. In those days we used to buy rice, rice was sold in 100-pound bags, so we would buy the 100-pound bags, and I don't remember how long that 100-pound bag lasted for, for nine of us because there were seven children. We had seven children, then Father and Mother made nine of us in the household. So, but that's how we managed to scrape up or sell enough to buy a sack of rice and Mother had rice to cook.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

HF: But then in the meantime we didn't, we didn't... we had very little foot, foot traffic for business, so then they were starting to build houses, so I decided to go out and contact the builders, homeowners that were building the houses to do their landscaping and I managed to get, get some work that way. But at that time there was considerable prejudice, so some of the people would talk to you and others would just turn their back to you. So it wasn't, it wasn't that easy, but I just kept on plugging away and I would manage to get a job here and a job there, and whenever we did a landscape job then you would sell the nursery stock, and then, then you would put in the lawn and etcetera, and that way we were gradually getting on our feet. And I was very fortunate to have a plumber down the street, on Third Street, that was doing sprinkler system for landscaping. So we teamed together and whenever he was on a job figuring the sprinkler system, he would take me along with him to see if I could sell the landscaping there, and I would do the same thing for him; if I was on a job and the job needed a sprinkler system, I would tell him about it.

JA: How old were you by this time?

HF: By this time, I was about twenty... let's see. About twenty-three, because I was married when I was twenty-five in 1938. So I would say about twenty-three, somewhere around there. So, then as we... as we progressed with the landscaping, I was able to -- oh, I shouldn't say I -- we were able to pay off all my father's old debts and we were able to buy the property on Marine Street with the 5 acres, we were able to buy that. And then when that took place, it was... then... Pearl Harbor. So then we had to -- this was in '42 and we had to evacuate, so --

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

JA: Tell me what you remember about December 7th, '41.

HF: Well December 7th, '41, my very, my very good friend, George Inagaki, he was best man at our wedding. We were out for a ride and, and here, here we had the radio on and then we hear this going on that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor, and then immediately George Inagaki was president of the Japanese American Citizens League, so he, he immediately went home, we all, we all went home, and then George Inagaki went on to do whatever he had to do with the JACL and in, in helping out with the Japanese people that were having any difficulties. Because the FBI came almost immediately to pick up those people that they thought were subversive. So as far as that Sunday that we were out for a ride, that was... that was our day that we didn't do anything other than stay home.

JA: Did the FBI come to your house?

HF: No. We didn't -- no, we weren't bothered in any way. For those people, those families or -- it was only the males, the men that were picked up, and they picked them, they picked them up so quickly, you, you... it seemed like they were, those people were being watched from before the time of Pearl Harbor. I don't know whether they were or not, but it seemed that way because they were, they were picked up so quickly. Right after Pearl Harbor they were picked up and then we would say, "Oh, so-and-so, they came and picked him up, and so-and-so." And there were several men that were picked up in Santa Monica, and we find that those men that were picked up were at one time, when they were young, had served in the army in Japan, or, or they were, they had some connections with the Japanese government or something. But other than that, they were no, no different than anybody else that were not picked up, because my father -- of course he came... he came to the United States young and he'd never, he didn't serve in the, he didn't serve in the army. Maybe that's one of the reasons why he left Japan because he didn't want to serve in the, serve in that. Because they had to -- when they came to a certain age they had to serve I think like two years in the army. That was what they had to do. Maybe my father --

JA: After Pearl Harbor, did, did you find the attitudes of Caucasians change towards you?

HF: Oh, yes, yes.

JA: How did it change?

HF: It changed, it changed that those people that were very cordial to you in... they were very solicitous, as a matter of fact, when they were trying to sell merchandise to you. Now, there were a number of them that, after, after Pearl Harbor, they had nothing to do with you. They pretended like they didn't know you. So, that hurt our feelings because we had, we had done business with them for so many years, and we had, we had good relations with them But that's what, that's what happened. That's, in our case when we were, because we were in business, but I would assume that other people, other people in other business probably had the same experience.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

JA: What were your feelings when you got the order that you had to go to camp?

HF: Well, I, I always had the feeling that when there's, when there's a war, there is very little or anything that one can do individually because there is no way that you can start a civil suit or anything like that. So, I felt they'd just got along and do the best, make the best of it. So, even though the time that we had to, that we went to Manzanar it was disruptive, but I never felt really bitter as some of the, some of the people that I talked to, they still hold bitterness against, against it. But somehow I never felt that way, and all the members of our family have never said anything to that effect, and my father never felt badly about it. He went along with... so, roll with the punches, so to say. So --

JA: So, did all your family go to Manzanar together?

HF: Yes, we all, we all went to Manzanar together, and that was one thing that, that the government considered very seriously was that to keep the family together. So I know of families that were in Santa, in Santa Monica that had relatives up in, in the Sacramento area. Well, the Santa Monica people went and moved with them to another camp, or vice-versa, because the government felt that the families should stay together. In our case, we were, we were always together so it wasn't any problem that we had to call anybody or anybody had to come and join us to go to Manzanar.

JA: And you lived together in the same place?

HF: In Manzanar?

JA: In Manzanar?

HF: In Manzanar, all those barracks had -- the barracks were 100 feet long and they had four compartments. So there, so each compartment was for a family. So, in our case, our family was too large, so we had two comp-, we had two of those compartments for our family, one right next to the other.

JA: Did it feel kind of crowded?

HF: No, but if we had to live in, all of us had to live in that one compartment, yes. But when it was split up, it wasn't, it wasn't crowded. The only thing that was a little uncomfortable was that my wife's sister, she was single, so she, she came with us and she lived with us. And when I say "with us," is that it was myself and my wife and two daughters, which they were very small. And when I say they were very small is that... well, when we went to camp, we only had one daughter and then in camp she gave birth to the second daughter. And then, my brother and his wife who were staying in the same, in the same apartment. So, it made it -- we didn't have the full privacy that if it was just -- just us. So, we had to, we would have the sheets to divide us so we would have some privacy.

JA: You had what?

HF: Sheets, you know, bed sheets? Somehow we had sheets or something to give us some privacy.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

JA: What did you see the very first time you set eyes on the camp at Manzanar?

HF: Well, first thing we saw -- the first thing that I recall seeing was that the place wasn't finished yet. There was just a few barracks at the entrance. And then after we were there, the first thing that they told us to do was to grab a bag and put straws in the bag for your mattress, and that was, that was the first thing that I recall being told to do after we got there. And --

JA: Once you sort of settled in there, what was daily life like?

HF: Well, the daily, the daily life was, was very simple. In the beginning, there was -- actually, there was nothing for us to do. But as gradually days went by, if you wanted to work in the kitchen, there would be a job working in the kitchen, or if you wanted to get a job working, cleaning the latrine -- because we had... because we didn't have a private toilet, it was just like army-style. You had a, you had a common shower and a common toilet, and then common for the laundry. So everybody in that block used that one facility. Each block had that same facility, so you could get jobs doing that in the beginning. And as time went on, there was a fire department, there was a police department, and they had a newspaper, and then they had a farm, and then in time the hospital was built, so you can go and work in the hospital. So gradually there was, there was work for you, that is if you wanted to work. But if you didn't want to do anything, you didn't have to do anything. You can just spend your time in any way that you wished.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

JA: What did you do?

HF: I, I got a job working on the, on the survey crew, and the reason I got a job on the survey crew is I knew somebody that was working there so they said, "Yeah, we can use you," so I went to work for the survey crew. And so I was on the survey crew and as a surveyor I didn't know how to use a transit or those instruments, so all I did on the job was to, was to carry the chain around and they would tell me where to, where to spot the chain and they would measure whatever that needed measuring. But as a, being on the survey crew, one of the jobs was to survey their, the gravesite. You're working on the engineering department and then they, the boss, Mr. Sandrich, he would say to go and measure the, where they were going to dig for the gravesite. And then after they give you that job and then after you're done that, then the rest of the, rest of the time was yours. And the survey crew -- I don't know whether I'm supposed to say this or not -- but the survey crew had a, they had a truck assigned to them with a full tank of gas every day. So after our, whatever job that we had done, after we had that done, then we would go out of the camp and we would go fishing because there was three or four trout streams up there. So then... or we would go up to the foothills of the Sierra, the mountains there.

JA: Did anybody know you were doing that?

HF: Oh, friends did.

JA: How did you get out of camp if there were guards?

HF: Well, that side of the camp there wasn't any guards. The guards were only along the street, along the highway. Along that, along the back side was open, so you could -- and then so they built golf courses there and I don't think the golf course was within that, within the confines of the camp.

JA: So nobody in official capacity missed you?

HF: I don't think so. I --

JA: Did you catch any fish?

HF: Unless, unless we didn't, unless we didn't come back for a couple of days or something and then they would say, "Hey. what happened to the survey crew?"

HF: But otherwise we came back every day.

JA: Did you ever catch any fish?

HF: Oh yeah, we caught some fish.

JA: What'd you get?

HF: Trout. That's all there was, was trout up there. Yeah, so there were some nice trout up there, yeah.

JA: And then the next morning you go back to work and then play hooky again.

HF: Yeah. [Laughs]

JA: Tough life.

HF: Yeah, no, life up there was, it was simple, you know. I think for, for many, for many population of the Japanese that were farmers, I think it was a blessing to go to camp because they had a chance to rest, because when you were, if you were a farmer you worked seven days out of the week. You had no time for rest, you had no time for vacation. And when they got up to camp up there, they had all the time in the world to themselves, and they could do whatever they want with it. But they couldn't, they couldn't do that when they were...

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

JA: How much would you get paid for being on the survey crew?

HF: Sixteen dollars a month. Sixteen dollars a month and the leader got nineteen dollars. That's, so... in all the camps, if you were working in the hospital, the doctors, head nurses, they got nineteen dollars. But others, the orderlies and such, they got sixteen dollars a month. And the same thing with working in the kitchen; if you were the head cook, then you got nineteen dollars, but if you were a dishwasher you got sixteen dollars.

JA: And what did you do with the money?

HF: Spent it.

JA: On what?

HF: I don't remember. [Laughs]

JA: You didn't have to pay for your meals, did you?

HF: No, we didn't have to pay for meals.

JA: Well, suppose you wanted a new suit of clothes or something. You didn't have a department store there at camp?

HF: No, but you would have no use for a suit of clothes. [Laughs]

JA: Well, you ripped your pants, you want a new pair of pants. How would you buy that?

HF: Well, they would issue you clothes. They weren't, they weren't the most comfortable clothes, and a lot of the clothes that they issued were World I, World War I issues. They had World I -- I don't know where they came from, but they had World War I issues of clothing. And the utensils that you had to -- these were, these were, that, for you to use -- they didn't issue them each time you went to the kitchen. You had them to take with you to the kitchen. And remember those, that aluminum pan that you had with the handle on it? And there was an aluminum cup that had the handles on it for the, in the World War I? Well, that's what was issued for us and those are what we were to carry to have our meals served to us. Because there would be -- what is it, cafeteria style -- while you were in -- that's another thing is when you're, each time, mealtime, you had to wait in line outside and then go to the, walk up into the kitchen and stand in line and they would serve you your meals and you would, they would put them in these pans. And often these pans -- they were supposed to stay steady and the handle was to hold that pan rigid, but there were many times the pans, something would happen to the hinge there and then you would have your food on the floor. And that would happen often, not only to me but many other people.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

JA: What kind of food did you get there at the cafeteria?

HF: Food was, food was good. When I say food was good, was we'd have, some day we'd have fish, we'd have meat and hamburgers, frankfurters. And then vegetables, in the beginning were brought in, but as, as the farmer, as the farm project started to produce, well, then we had plenty of fresh vegetables from the farm in the kitchen. So, people in the camp, they were, I would say they were well-fed. It wasn't the best of food or it wasn't anything gourmet, but it was ample. So, I have no complaints about the food at the kitchen.

JA: So you don't remember what you spent your money on?

HF: Seriously, I really don't.

JA: Okay. What'd you do for fun? Did you ever go dancing or have a date or anything like that? Were you married by this time?

HF: Yeah, I was, I was married before I went to camp, remember?

JA: That's right.

HF: I was married, so I had --

JA: That was a while ago.

HF: I was married already so I had a noose around my neck so I couldn't go dancing with other single women.

JA: Well, you could have taken your wife dancing.

HF: I didn't dance.

JA: Oh, okay. [Laughs]

HF: I wasn't a dancer. [Laughs]

JA: Okay. Well, that's fine.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

JA: Tell me how, what you remember about the, the flower gardens and the parks that started up there.

HF: A number, a number... see, these barracks had a space in between, barracks, they were, I'm guessing, but I'm saying there must have been about 30 feet between, between barracks, and some of the ambitious people would get together with the residents within, within their block, between the two blocks, because you were facing each other -- the entrance was facing each other. So, they would make a garden between the, between the, between the two barracks. And then, and then there were gardeners that knew how to make the real Japanese gardens, they made the real Japanese gardens out in the open. And those gardens, the remains of some of those gardens are still there. I don't know exactly where they are, but...

JA: They're uncovering some of them now.

HF: I think, I think they're all marked where they are.

JA: So, that must've changed the feeling of the place over time.

HF: Oh, yes, it made it, it made the appearance more, more appealing and more comfortable. And it wasn't just, everything was just barren because there were no trees there at all because, with the exception of an apple tree and there, they bulldozed everything. They bulldozed the whole area so that they got rid of all the scrub -- everything that was scrub, grass and whatever, and leveled the ground to build the, to put the barracks up. So, you know, it was very barren, and that was another thing that was bad about it, was it was so barren that -- and it was, the ground was very sandy there. And the Manzanar area was a very windy area and the wind would come up all of a sudden -- for no reason at all, the wind would come and, and it would be so bad that you could hardly walk outside, and then when it did blow like that, in the beginning, the sand would come up through the cracks in the floor and would come in through the sills of the window, and it was terrible. So, that would happen every now and then.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

JA: Did you... did I understand you did some paintings, some oil paintings or watercolors?

HF: Well, I, I took some things with me and I did, I did a few paintings, but that didn't, that didn't last very long because I... end of the first year that we were there, the sugar beet companies from Colorado and Utah came into camp to recruit male help because the, the young men in the farm areas were all, went into the army, so then they didn't have any labor, so they got permission to come into the camp to recruit, recruit labor. So, we took that opportunity to, to go out from camp, to go out and work and maybe find a place to resettle. So, I and let's see... two brothers, I and two brothers went out first up to Shelley, Idaho, and we were fortunate that we were placed on a, on a sugar beet company property where there was a vacant house. So we lived there. And then the other brother came by himself later on, and then my youngest brother, he was still in high school, so he had to go to school so he couldn't come out there and work with us.

JA: And then when the growing season was over you would go back to Manzanar?

HF: Yeah, we, we worked, we were out, we worked on the sugar beet farm. First we worked on the sugar beet farm thinning beets, and then, then after the thinning of the beets, then you would go and pick potatoes, and then, and then the sugar beets would come into time to pick, so then we would pick our sugar beets. And you'd pick sugar beets -- they give you a long knife about that long with a hook on it, so you, you'd hook the beet and lift it and cut the top off and put it in a, in a roll, and then they would come up and, they would come along and gather that and take it to the mill. But we did that until the ground started to freeze and then you couldn't lift the beet out of the ground, and that got to be around Thanksgiving, so that's when we went back to camp. We went back to camp and we had Thanksgiving in camp. So that, so then...

JA: Tell me about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Do you remember anything about those holidays in camp?

HF: No, I really don't remember, I don't remember much about Thanksgiving or Christmas, because we had no -- we didn't have any Christmas trees, we didn't exchange gifts. But I was, I was... I always sent Christmas cards when we, before evacuation, so I wanted to send Christmas cards to our friends outside. So I was wondering, "How am I going to do that?" I didn't have any paper. I didn't have -- so, I got the idea of taking the -- I don't see that kind of paper today -- it had a brown paper that was the... towel, a paper towel, a brown one that it folded, it was folded and you, and you pick one up and then the next one would come up, and I used that as, I made a Christmas card out of that, and I, and I mailed it. And, so, that's what I did for my Christmas card, and I still have that one that I have. It's at home. But, as far as anything happening for Christmas, I don't remember. If you were, if you were a child going to school, maybe they had something to do with it in school, but otherwise I wouldn't know.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

JA: What do you remember about the riot that happened?

HF: The riot, I wasn't, I wasn't involved in the riot in any way, and the riot took place in an, altogether another area of where we lived. So from what I've... it was just hearsay that I know about, that there was a riot, that it took place, and it had something to do with the, with the... those that were for the... those that were for the -- I shouldn't say for those, but those that were against being, into the army, and then there were those people that were the "no-no boys" that were sent out to Tule Lake eventually, and so things like that. And then they had blamed the JACL for some of this happening. So I had my very good friend, Togo Tanaka was secretly taken out of camp by the police. But I think that if he had remained -- well, like Fred Tayama, another friend of mine, he was abused considerably. But Togo Tanaka, he wasn't hurt, and he left camp and he went to Chicago. But as far as the details of the riot, I, they said there was shooting there and all this, but I wasn't there to --

JA: You didn't experience it.

HF: I wasn't there to witness it.

JA: What do you remember about the "loyalty questions"?

HF: Well, well, the loyalty questions, there was... as I recall, I think there was a paper, a paper went around to say whether you were or you weren't, and to my recollection, those that, those that said that they weren't loyal are the ones that went to Tule Lake. Are you familiar when I say Tule Lake? Tule Lake was a camp that was way up by, by the Oregon border. So they were, they were sent up there and then from there, I'm not sure whether it was all of them or some of them were sent back to, they were sent to Japan on the Gripsholm, and then, I don't know what year it was, but some of them came back. When I say I don't know what year it was, it was fairly recent, some of them came back, they were permitted to come back.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

JA: (Tell me a little about the circumstances when you left camp.) At what point did that happen, and what did you do?

HF: Well, they came out with the order that you can leave camp, but you can go east but you can't return to the three Pacific Coast states.


JA: Just tell me that again, what was the order?

HF: Well, they came out with the order that said you could go out, out of the camp but you can't go back to the three Pacific Coat states. But you can go east anyplace, anyplace that you choose. So I took that opportunity and went out of camp to, to look for possible relocation, relocating site because I was afraid of... I was talking with my father and with all the prejudice going on that I don't think it would be too, too good to be waiting in camp just to see what was going to happen, so this opportunity came to leave camp, so... so I left. And this was, this was in February, February of '43. And so I and a friend -- I can't think of his name now, he's deceased -- we left together and the first place we went was, go to Denver. And we had some friends that were there, had moved, had moved to Denver instead of going to camp. As soon as, as soon as Pearl Harbor, they decided to move and they moved to Denver. So we went to visit them. And then we looked around Denver, but I couldn't... well, we were all, each one of us was on our own after that, because he was to look for something for himself and I was to look for something for myself, so I don't know whatever happened to him after that. But I looked around, and after you've been living in an area like Santa Monica, near a city where you have all the conveniences, you have the movie theaters, and especially if you're living near the beach and you have entertainment like that, and then to look around in a place like Denver, which was very remote -- to me was very remote -- it was all flatland country, and I couldn't see anyplace that we could, I could see my family relocating here. And that was the same situation when we went up to Idaho.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

HF: When I was in, we went to Shelley, Idaho, and then I excused myself from Shelley, Idaho, and I went up to Ogden, Utah, to visit a friend of mine because they were farming up there. So I thought, well, go up there and visit them and see what was in that area, and there was nothing that appealed to me in that area either. So then after being in Denver for a few days, I went on to Chicago, and in Chicago, Togo Tanaka was there that I just mentioned about, one that was taken out of camp, he had settled in Chicago, so I went to Chicago and stayed at the Wabash Y. And the first thing I experienced was that no sooner you stepped out of your hotel, your collar was black, and I said, "Boy, I don't think I want to live here." But there was a War Relocation Authority office there that had places for you to go and investigate if you so chose. So I went here and there in the Chicago area, but nothing appealed to me.

So from there, then I got on a train and went on to New York. And then New York, I stayed at the Sloan House, that's a men's hotel, and it's a Y rather, and the War Relocation Authority office was in the Empire State Building. So I went there immediately and to see what was available there, and I went all over -- when I say all over is I went looking all nearby in New Jersey and I went as far as Philadelphia, and then I went out on Long Island, and then I found a place on Long Island that had possibilities. So I returned to New York -- I mean, returned to Manzanar and told them that I had located a place and if they wanted to move there, relocate there. So the family decided that's what we will do.

So, we moved to Long Island in Farmingdale, Long Island, and so the government paid our -- paid our way to Farmingdale. And then it was a greenhouse operation there, and it was a place that had been going bankrupt, and the owner was the deputy health commissioner of New York City, and his family owned that property, and so it seemed like a good opportunity so we went there and we started to fix the place up and work there, and I was to be the manager there. And in the meantime, we couldn't get any labor, so it was the same situation as when we were in camp with the farmers in Utah. So I told Dr. Caldron that I think I could get some help from the relocation, the internment camp in Arkansas. So he said to go and try, so I went there and I managed to bring back three families to come to Farmingdale from Arkansas, and these families that came -- one lived in Pasadena before the war, and the other lived in Downey, the other two lived in Downey before the war. So they came to Farmingdale, and there was a house for them to live in. It wasn't a very nice place but it was a place to live, and so, so we managed to get the place in order to plant.

But in the meantime, my father was always self-employed all his life ever since he was -- ever since he started farming in Fruitland, he has always been self-employed, so he didn't like the situation of being employed. And then, and then the situation that was -- I shouldn't say promised -- but was to work out, but it didn't, it didn't look like it was going to materialize. So since I was in charge there, I was in contact with all the salespeople that came in, and one of the salesmen that came in did horticultural real estate on the side. So I told him our predicament, and so he would come on a day off and take us around. He would take us over to Brooklyn, New York, and then take us over on parts of Long Island. And finally there was a place 8 miles away from Farmingdale, a place called Deer Park, and a widow had been running this place and she was hoping that her son would take over, but the son wasn't interested so she had the place up for sale. So we were able to buy the place, and she gave us the opportunity to, to continue that, her business. And that's how we happened to end up in Deer Park, and we were there for over forty years. We started growing carnations as we had -- that's the only thing that we knew how to grow because we learned how to grow carnations when we were in Farmingdale, but it wasn't a very good crop to grow, so we started growing chrysanthemums and we stayed with chrysanthemums to the day that I retired and my both brothers retired. So we raised our family in Deer Park, raised the family, went to school, and went to college from Deer Park, and so... and my brothers were all in the service when we went to, when we moved to Deer Park, except my youngest brother, he was still going to high school. But I had three brothers that was in the service, and when they came back to Deer Park, two of them stayed in Deer Park and the one decided to go back to Santa Monica. And so he had his family in Minnesota because he was, he studied for the intelligence, but he didn't go over, he didn't go overseas, by that time it was all over, so he came home. But he decided that he was going to go back to Santa Monica, so he went back to Santa Monica.

JA: When did you go back to Santa Monica?

HF: I came back, we came back from Deer Park to Santa Monica in 1987. So it's like fifteen years now since we've been back, but it doesn't seem that long to me.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

JA: What were your feelings when you, when the government offered redress for this and the President issued an apology? How did you feel about that?

HF: Well, I thought it was... I thought it was coming to us, but I didn't think there was, I, I never thought that it was enough. I never thought -- and I don't, I don't know what would have been enough, but I think the $20,000 was nothing. When that check came, my wife was... what was my wife doing, anyways? I think she had a gallbladder operation or something, and she says, "Take your check and go get a car," so I bought a new car with my check. But I don't know, I never had any great happiness from that money. I don't know of anybody that said, "Gee, that's great," or, "It's a lot of money we got." It was nice that we received the money, and I... I fully appreciate all the effort that, the people that put into getting that redress money. There's a lot of lobbying went on to do that. They just didn't hand the money to you if you said, "Give us the money." You know, they didn't just come across with that money right away, it took a long time.

JA: So why do you feel it wasn't enough?

HF: Well, for what, for what you lost and what you went through? What you went through is something that you can't put a, put a dollar figure on, but what you lost you could. And if you were, if you were just a family person and if you were a gardener, for instance, I'd say, if you were just a gardener, you didn't have very much to lose. But if you were in any kind of business, you lost a lot; a big amount of money. So $20,000 nowhere near touches it, touches what we lost in dollars. And then as far as the feeling part of it, you can't put a, you can't put a dollar sign on the feeling, but you can put a dollar sign on what you lost.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

JA: And a lot of what you lost wasn't just money and physical things, was it? In terms of pieces of your life?

HF: Yes, that's true, yeah, because we were just, in our case, we were just, we were just getting on our feet when Pearl Harbor happened. If the Pearl Harbor didn't happen, I don't know what would have, you know, I don't know where we would have gone after that as we continued. But I think the one, one great benefit of the war, Pearl Harbor and evacuation and so on, is that the Japanese people were dispersed all over the United States. Before that, the Japanese people were... they were very much to themselves. They were very much to themselves, they had their associations, they had their, they had their annual picnics of where they came from, their prefectures that they came from Japan, and they were very... what would you say? I would say that they were too much to themselves, and if it wasn't for the war I think that they may still be. And because of the war, a lot of the, the students that graduated high school in camp went to college, not in California, but they all went to colleges in the east, or those that graduated high school, that just graduated, that went to camp, they went east. And those people that are like ourselves, for instance, we went east and started a brand-new life, and I'm sure there were thousands of them that did the same thing. So there were, there were Japanese in the United States today that there weren't there before. Like when we went to Farmingdale, we were the only Japanese in Farmingdale. And when we went to Deer Park, we were the only Japanese in Deer Park until, until the war brides happened to reside in Deer Park, but...


AL: I'd like to know a little bit more about his brothers in the military, and why they decided to serve, if they were drafted, volunteered, where they served, and if they all survived.

JA: How did your brothers happen to decide to go into the military?

HF: They were... they didn't decide, they were picked -- what do you call them when they were --

JA: Drafted.

HF: Drafted. They were, they were drafted -- they were working for the... they were working for the International Harvester Company in Chicago when they were drafted, my brothers.

JA: And where did they serve?

HF: The, the one next to me, Frank, he went to MIS, but he didn't go overseas. The one next to him, Jimmy, he went to MIS and he went overseas. He went to the Philippines first and then he went to Tokyo, and he worked in the Daiichi Building where General MacArthur was, and he said he used to see General MacArthur every day. And then the third brother, George, he went, he went to Germany and France as occupation. So those were the three that went into the service.

JA: Did they all survive the war?

HF: Yes, because they, they saw no action. You know, they weren't, they weren't in the 442nd or the 100th Battalion, so they were... they had it pretty easy, I would say, as far as being a soldier.

JA: What is MIS?

HF: Military Intelligence Service. That was, they were the ones that went to the South Pacific. In the early part of the war, they went to the South Pacific to be interpreters, where the Japanese were. So, so that's where, that's what the early recruiting, early recruits of the MIS did. But my brother Jimmy went, he went in the tail end so he didn't, he didn't... he went to the Philippines but didn't stay there very long, and he went to Tokyo, so he didn't see any action at all. Yeah, my brothers all went into the service late and so they, so they didn't see any action.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

JA: Tell me about... you and your wife had a child when you were in camp?

HF: Yeah, we had a child because she was pregnant when we went to camp, so we had a, so we had a child in, in camp. And she's, she just turned sixty.

JA: A young one.

HF: Huh?

JA: A young person.

HF: You mean today or then? [Laughs]

JA: Today. [Laughs] Was there any negative feelings attached to her having been born in camp...

HF: No.

JA: ...that she experienced?

HF: She, she wouldn't know. Too young, born in camp, and we left, she left camp when she was, she was about two years old, I think, when she left camp.

JA: So she has no memories of that?

HF: No, she wouldn't have any memories, and I don't think the older one would have any memories either. At least I, I never asked them. I never asked my oldest, oldest daughter, Joyce, whether she has any recollection. I'm certain that Grace wouldn't because she's too small. Joyce maybe has some, but...

JA: Are they interested in your experiences about camp? Do you talk with them about that?

HF: No, they don't seem to be interested. They don't ask any questions.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.