Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Shig Kaseguma Interview
Narrator: Shig Kaseguma
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: November 6, 2007
Densho ID: denshovh-kshig-01-0002

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RP: Tell us, what was your father's name?

SK: Shigeru.

RP: Shigeru.

SK: Which is close to my name. Well, he was known as Fred, too, because he associated with a lot of Caucasians.

RP: In the U.S. You said that he was the oldest son in the family?

SK: Yeah, I'm the oldest son.

RP: No, your dad was the oldest son?

SK: Oh, he was the oldest of the sons, of their family.

RP: Most Issei men came over for economic reasons. Was that what brought him over, too?

SK: (...) He never told me. But he and my uncle decided they wanted to come over here, I guess. And for a lot of those Isseis then to say why they wanted, some of them came because second in line is not the greatest thing in the world. So they came out. That happened, I guess, in Europe, too.

RP: Uh-huh. There's some that came over to extend, continue their education that they got in Japan.

SK: Yeah, seek education.

RP: Seeking education, or to avoid the draft. So it's unusual for an oldest son who would stand to inherit land.

SK: It was very unusual. We never pinned him down why he came. Because he never divulged it, either. I guess, obviously, it wasn't too pretty to listen to, I guess. Obviously, you don't say those things, you would say it if you did.

RP: He came to Seattle.

SK: He came to Seattle directly.

RP: And he settled in the Seattle area?

SK: Right.

RP: Where, specifically?

SK: Right in town. And he worked as a houseboy. 'Cause they didn't know the language anyway, the only thing you can learn to do was a houseboy. I guess they had someplace to live and eat.

RP: Did he share any of his early experiences and how difficult it was for him?

SK: Yeah, he said it was very difficult because the language was barrier was terrific. And I'm sure, if they went as a houseboy, that was terrible for the people that hired him, too. Not understanding the language and trying to be helpful. But he, evidently survived. Either that, or you worked on the railroad, I guess. A lot of them did.

RP: A lot of Isseis got their start with the railroad, especially up in that area, Great Northern. Kind of take us back to how you saw your dad growing up. What kind of a guy was he?

SK: Well, he was a nice-looking guy. I always thought, gee, my dad looks good, when I was growing up. but he was a tough guy. Hot tempered, and, but very kind. But then what happened was that he was working in a shop in town on Jackson Street, where they sold chicken and ducks, I guess. In fact, there was a picture of him in a tea house that's now in the Panama Hotel, that the lady refurbished it, the Caucasian lady bought it. And there was my dad in the picture. And I told my sisters about it once when they came two month ago, they took pictures of it, with all the chicken hanging on the place. But we survived very well, because he was working all the time. He was very athletic, I guess, because he belonged to a tennis club. They had formed a tennis group, right near our home where we lived, about three blocks away on Eighth Avenue and Washington. They built a tennis court. And it had quite a few men playing. And he just loved it. But he didn't play, only on weekends.

RP: That was his outlet.

SK: Yeah, after he quit the chicken business.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.