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

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: My name is Richard Potashin. We're at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, and this afternoon, we're interviewing Shig Kaseguma, a former internee at the Minidoka War Relocation Center. Shig, were you also at Puyallup, too?

SK: Yes, I was at "Camp Harmony," too.

RP: "Camp Harmony," also known as the Puyallup Assembly Center. The date of our interview is November 6, 2007, and our videographer is Kirk Peterson. Shig, thank you so much for sharing some time during this reunion schedule to join us in sharing your family and camp history. Let's start our interview by having you give us the date and the place of your birth.

SK: I was born on June 4, 1921, in Seattle, Washington.

RP: Okay. And what was your given name at birth?

SK: It was Shigeki Paul Kaseguma. I was given Paul at the same time I was baptized, in July, a day after, I mean, a month after my birth, in a Christian family.

RP: Were you born in a hospital, or at home?

SK: I was born in a hospital.

RP: You were, in Seattle?

SK: In Seattle. Which was kind of a rarity then.

RP: Right, during the early '20s. In talking with folks from the Los Angeles area, many of them were born at home with midwives. And it was very rare until later on for Issei women to be given...

SK: Yeah. Generally, it was Issei women who were midwives. It was a lot of people.

RP: Do you have any insight into the meaning of your first and last name?

SK: Well, Kaseguma comes from my grandfather, who was a lord in Hongo, Japan.

RP: Hongo. Where is Hongo located?

SK: That's a little north of Hiroshima. If you go by cab, it's about forty-five minutes north.

RP: Is it a small village?

SK: It's a small village, but their property extended as far as the eye could see. Because he was given all the land that you could see from the top of the hill where his home was. But when MacArthur came in after the war, he made sure that all the landlords were cut down to size, more cut down to size. But he kept a lot of property. They allowed so much, so many miles of property. So my uncle stayed, went back, right before the war. My uncle and my dad came to Japan together, from Japan, immigrated to Seattle at the same time.

RP: Oh, okay. What was your uncle's name?

SK: Gee, I forgot... Hirotoshi, I think it was. But that's his son's name, too. And he went back because he was kind of disappointed in coming to the U.S. So he went back to Japan, but my dad stayed. And then later on, of course, he got a "picture wife." He got a "picture wife," like most of the men did, about five years later. He went back to Japan and got her and came back again.

RP: Does your, do any of your relatives still own land in that Hongo area?

SK: Yes, they still do. In fact, my father, in the later years, went back to Japan and he asked me did I want to have the property. 'Cause I'm the oldest of his sons, his family. And I said, no, I don't think I would because I don't want to move myself back to there, Japan, place I don't even know too well. And he said, "Okay, I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'll give the property to my uncle," who suffered through the war and was heavily in debt, too. Taxes were eating him up. And so I said, "No, I don't think I want to do that." So he went back with my mother, and they had a big meeting, rowdy meeting, I heard, from my mother. My dad wanted to do it, but my uncle didn't. He didn't want to split up the property to all the other relatives. That was a condition, my father wouldn't give him the land, but he balked at that, because evidently my uncle was treated very badly by the other relatives when he went back and the war started. They called him a spy, coming back to Japan. And so he remembered that vividly (...). I guess they really treated him badly. Consequently, he didn't want to share it with anybody, any one of those that were bad to him. So, but it ended up okay. My father yelled and screamed, too. He was a pretty hot-tempered guy anyway.

RP: Who screamed the loudest.

SK: Yeah, yeah. He was a mean guy if he wanted to be. [Laughs]

RP: Your dad?

SK: So it came out alright.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

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.

<Begin Segment 3>

RP: So did you live in the Japantown area of Seattle?

SK: Yeah, we're, well, everybody did. I lived on Broadway and Fir and Yesler. There's a triangle. There was a big building there. And only two homes that were on the block. And the Fir Street, we were the only house on Fir, because they came in and butted into Yesler. And (where) we all lived, there were a lot of Japanese stores there, (and a) barbershop. It was self-sufficient. And my mother was always home by herself, running the family. But there were a lot of grocery stores. It was not a problem, she was not a good cook. I remember, she was never a good cook. My dad was a great cook, but she wasn't. And ended up we had six kids.

RP: Wow, can you tell us a little bit about their names and order of their birth?

SK: Yeah, in fact, my oldest sister's name was Yori. She was six years...

RP: Older than you?

SK: And I was next. And my next sister came three years later, and her name was Aiko. And another three years, it kind of gets monotonous, but three years later, my sister Jean was born. And three years later after that, Lois, who is now in town here, too, she was born. And three years later again, my youngest brother, who is here, too, is Kiyoshi, his name is Bob now, but he's in upper New York. And my next sister, Lois, is in Chicago. And Jean and Aiko are also in Chicago. They're all in Chicago, except my brother.

RP: Then your oldest sister, you just mentioned, she passed away last year.

SK: Yeah, she was in Chicago.

RP: She was also in Chicago.

SK: And the fellow that came with us, that was her husband.

RP: Now these, all these siblings who ended up in Chicago, did they relocate from camp to Chicago?

SK: Yeah, see, when I was in the army, my dad and mother were offered a job in Delavan, Wisconsin. In a resort. Lake Lawn Resort. My oldest sister was too old to go with my family, so she went ahead to Chicago. And Aiko, the next sister, (...) she was just about ready to graduate from Seattle high school. So she went about another quarter, I guess, and she graduated, so she joined my sister. And later, the three of the other siblings went together with my parents to Wisconsin. And they finished school in Delavan, Wisconsin. And the fourth girl, I mean, yeah, the fourth girl, Jean, she went to Chicago and joined them after she graduated from high school. And the other two that were left, graduated from Delavan High School and went to University of Wisconsin, both of them. And you want to know more about their history, too?

RP: I think we'll revisit them in a little while.

SK: Okay.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

RP: Let's go back to your growing up in the Seattle Japantown. What do you remember about Japantown? Any particular places? Can you give us kind of like a visual picture of the community?

SK: It was like home. Because although we didn't speak Japanese except in the house, as soon as my oldest sister learned English in high school, she was the oldest, consequently, we all learned to speak English, too, because of her. But when you went down to Japantown, it was kind of nice because there was place to eat and the bathhouses were great. There were two bathhouses then, and they were great. But people didn't take bath except once a week. [Laughs] It was too expensive. And at home, we didn't have much of a hot water for all us. You had to burn wood and had a little tank for that big, a gas tank, how could you bathe five kids, six kids. So it was kind of a nice feeling to be there because it was like family, big family. Because everybody knew each other. All the kids went to the same school, just about. So we never felt that we were deprived. (...) Kids are never deprived, unless you had a mean father and mother. So we lived a fairly nice life. And personally, I think we didn't suffer or anything. There was a Baptist church that was only about a block and a half away from us, I think it was probably mentioned by a lot of kids. There was a Baptist (church), but they had a gymnasium and all the boys loved to go there. (Although) my mother insisted we go to my Episcopal church, which is only about another block and a half away on the Yesler Way by cable car. In fact, it was 1010 Yesler, was the address. It was a house, which became a church. But I think we led a pretty secluded life, not knowing what the other people were doing. The Caucasian people were not part of our life. Because they weren't part of our life, either. They didn't want us to be part of their life, consequently we lived our own life.

RP: Right, yeah, and you had a really tight-knit, cohesive community to support, for support. 'Cause, I think you hit on the nail there, it was very threatening to go out anywhere else, in terms of being reminded that you were of different ethnicity. Were there places that were off limits? I talked to Victor about this, public places, theaters, or in Southern California, there were pools that would not allow Japanese kids.

SK: No, we never had that problem.

RP: It was just more secure to be amongst your own.

SK: Yeah, it was more secure, and it was more fun. And why would you want to do anything else? Kids always like to play ball. And we played, there weren't too many playfields near us, and they never made too many playfields anyway, except by Broadway High School. But we played on the street, because there were hardly any cars. And we always played baseball on the gravel road. If a car came, we'd throw rocks at it, because we didn't want it to interrupt our game. But there was a field where near Harborview Hospital is presently. And there was a, we had a field up there. But when the Harborview Hospital came into existence, that building was quite large and they took our playfield.

RP: They took your field away.

SK: And so, a lot of the other people lived further east of us. They were the Collins playfield, I think Victor probably told you. He didn't, because Victor lived near us, nearer to town. He lived on Eighth Avenue and Yesler, and we were on Ninth. So, it was, it was quite a secluded life, in the little circle. Even among the Japanese family, it was quite secluded. You lived in the neighborhood, that you play with the kids in your own neighborhood. And each one had their own neighborhood and we played football against each other. It was a team, and they formed a league.

RP: A football league?

SK: Football league. And they also had basketball, was intense, and baseball was pretty intense. And we all had our own teams, neighborhood teams.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

RP: What did you favor in terms of a sport?

SK: I favored baseball and judo. There was a judo (club), they rented a place on our block, a triangle, a big building. (...) It was called the Finnish Hall. Basement of the lower floor, main floor, they made it a judo place. It was called Tentokan. And I was too young to be (a student but) I could see it, it was right next to (us), abutting our house. So I could see what they were doing. I could go (...) in the audience and see. (...) But I couldn't (join), they won't take us, until we were ten I think it was. Consequently, I would sneak in or break in from the back door and the window and crawl in and practice how to fall. So I was quite advanced when I became eligible to become a member.

RP: So how long did you take judo?

SK: From about ten to about fourteen, fifteen. But my mother insisted I go to the Boy Scouts at the St. Peter's, when St. Peter's opened up their own church, big church. We built a big church then in 1938, I think it was.

RP: That was a Protestant church?

SK: So she insisted that I go there, instead of go to judo. But I still did some judo. But our practice day was the same day as the Boy Scout was.

RP: As the Boy Scouts. She insisted that you go to Boy Scouts.

SK: Because it was a church affair.

RP: Ah, because it was kind of church sponsored.

SK: Yeah. It was a nice Boy Scout.

RP: And that was an all-Japanese American troop of scouts?

SK: Yeah, everyone was.

RP: And did you get much out of the scouting experience?

SK: You mean the Boy Scouts? Yeah, it was fun, we went camping on Mercer Island. Had to get on the little boat to get across to Mercer Island. There was no bridge then. And I remember I wanted to swim back from Mercer Island to Seward Park, and they caught me swimming. [Laughs]

RP: How long a distance is that?

SK: Oh, it's not that long. But it's still very dangerous if you have to come back again. But I was a pretty good swimmer then.

RP: Really? So where did you learn to swim? In the ocean?

SK: No, because every summer, that's all we did, was go down to Lake Washington and swim.

RP: Oh, yeah. Victor was mentioning Lake Washington.

SK: Yeah, I think everybody did. We didn't have any money. But if they give us a nickel to get on the cable car, we would just walk it and then buy something for a nickel, and then, after swimming.

RP: Save that nickel.

SK: Everybody did that. (...) All the kids. If we did (take the trolley car), one guy would get on and then he'd get a transfer and he'd throw it out of the window and next guy would catch it and he'd get on again. It was a lot of fun.

RP: So, yeah, these trolleys. So they had a really great trolley car system.

SK: It wasn't a great system, but it was a system enough to go.. It didn't cover a lot of territory, but it was just certain ways, if you lived in that village, I mean, that way, it was okay. The cable car was fine for us, because it wasn't twenty feet from our house.

RP: So a low cost means of getting around.

SK: Yeah, it was low cost. But we walked more than we even rode. Even a nickel was a lot in those days.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

SK: But in the summer, of course, when we were old enough, twelve to fourteen years old. In the summer, we went to pick berries, I think probably Victor told you about that, too. We all, all the kids went berry picking.

RP: Oh, yeah. Where?

SK: To Auburn. Some to Kent, (...) also Sumner. We went to Sumner.

RP: Sumner, where is that in relationship to Seattle?

SK: Seattle, it's about thirty miles. They would pick us up and then we'd go for the whole summer. We'd go to the barracks. My mother went, too, because my father was gone anyway during the week. And consequently took our family, the girls and the boys, one boy.

RP: The whole family went to pick.

SK: And we would pick strawberries, pick peas after that. And then we didn't do potatoes or anything like that, because they didn't grow any of that. And blackberry was just beginning. But school started and so we had to come back. So we made enough for buying clothes for the winter.

RP: And that was your, that was your first work experience?

SK: Yeah, first experience in work.

RP: And the entire family lived in a barrack room?

SK: Right, and she cooked. And...

RP: Oh, so you had a kitchen in the...

SK: Not really a kitchen, but a stove.

RP: Just a stove.

SK: There was a very old barracks, you know. But we had a community bath, so it was great.

RP: Oh, you had a bath, too.

SK: Oh, yeah.

RP: And so you probably, did you bathe every night?

SK: Yeah, we bathed every night. As Japanese custom, men go first.

RP: Oh, the men go first.

SK: Yeah, I don't know why that is, but the ladies have to wait for the men to take baths first.

RP: You have to take a shower, too, before you bathe?

SK: Then there's a shower was there, we didn't even know what shower meant. In those days, a shower, now they're prevalent.

RP: Right, it was always a bath.

SK: I don't think that many people used, even the Caucasians didn't have showers then. It was usually a bath.

RP: So this is kind of maybe not a fair question, but, how did the, your accommodations at the berry picking farm compare to your barrack rooms at Minidoka?

SK: Well, it was pretty close. Of course, on the farm, when you think you're only going to be there for two months or so, if you had a place to sleep, that was it, and something to eat, that was great.

RP: You knew where you were going afterwards, too.

SK: The accommodations at "Harmony" was, of course, pretty bad, 'cause fleas were prevalent. Because it's a fairground, no matter how you look at it. We were in Camp C, where the, right now, that's the main place where they have the rollercoaster and all that. We were in that place, it was Victor and us, so we were all there. And the other was the Camp A's and all that, they were more in the parking lots.

RP: That's what he told us, yeah.

SK: So we had the place to hang around and the grandstand, run in the horse track for the horses. So our day was pretty well filled. [Laughs] We had a lot to do. Boxing.

RP: Oh, boxing?

SK: Oh, yeah. We had boxing matches between the camps.

RP: The different sections?

SK: Yeah, sections.

RP: Were you a boxer, too?

SK: No, I wasn't much of a boxer.

RP: You were a watcher.

SK: I was watching.

RP: Watch people beating each other up.

SK: Yeah, some guys like to do that, but that's not my prevalence. [Laughs]

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

RP: Shig, let's go back and talk a little bit about your mother. What was her name?

SK: Kikuyo.

RP: Kikuyo?

SK: Yeah, Kikuyo.

RP: And you said that your dad returned to Japan.

SK: Yeah, to bring her back.

RP: Bring her back. So initially, pictures were exchanged. "Picture wife."

SK: Yeah, they all were "picture wife."

RP: Uh-huh, and then so that was arranged and then he went --

SK: It was arranged marriage. (...)

RP: Did they get married in Japan or in the United States?

SK: I think they were married in Japan, 'cause he went back there so constantly, I think, yeah, they were married.

RP: Kikuyo, did she live in the same general area as your father?

SK: Well, I never knew, but I don't think they were. But I think they knew of each other. But they might have... they never discussed those things. I don't know why they never said that, "Dad lived there close to me and we fell in love," or something like that. Never happened.

RP: It seemed like love was the last thing on people's minds in that case. Do you know much about her family in Japan? Was she well-educated?

SK: Well, yeah, I don't know if she was well-educated. But I thought that after the war, we found out, they never talked about... well, they talked about they had family, my mother's family. But my mother's brother was a colonel in the air force. And when the war ended, we had a hard time, or she had a hard time trying to figure out where in the world they settled. Because they didn't really have a home. He was a colonel in the air force, so they were always near the airport. So we had a hard time finding them. And I was told to look for them, but it was almost impossible. Because there were thousands of people like that, displaced persons. So, finally, I guess they found out after I came back from Japan, we found out where they were. And now (...) we became very close after that. And we corresponded quite a bit and I went to see them a couple of times. And it was kind of fun to think they were blood relatives, mother's side. So I knew about the other father's side, because I took a leave when I was in Japan servicing. And I was in Kyoto, stationed in Kyoto then, but I went over to see them (on) a three-day pass. And of course, they were shocked to see me because I couldn't correspond (with) them. And here, I walk into the door, and tell them who I am. [Laughs] So it was kinda nice. All the kids were young, too.

RP: Tell us a little bit about your mother. From again, a child's perspective, growing up.

SK: My mother?

RP: Yeah.

SK: Well, she was a kindly person, a very kind person. Very handy. Not a good cook, but palatable, anyway. But she sewed everything. Of course, they all did. In those days, everybody, all women learned how to sew. She was pretty good at it.

RP: She make all your own clothes?

SK: Not the men's clothes. The girls, all the girls' clothes she made. I think they all did, every family. Just about, unless they couldn't do, make anything. But she was a very kindly person as I remember. Scared of my dad, if he... [laughs] But...

RP: Your dad would have these fits of anger?

SK: Yeah, but he was gone most of the time and so she was safe from that. Although he was pretty prolific after he got six kids. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 8>

RP: You said that your father eventually was employed by the Great Northern Railroad as a cook?

SK: He was what?

RP: He was employed by the Great Northern Railroad?

SK: Yeah, he was, (...) he worked as a cook for the Great Northern Railroad company, which was one of the big ones.

RP: And he, he was kind of a private cook to the general manager?

SK: Yeah.

RP: Tell us a little bit about that.

SK: It was kind of a nice job, I thought. You know, they'd be gone from Monday to Saturday, come back on Saturday, generally. Not every day of the week, but most of the time, he was gone. I can't remember him being home, 'cause I wasn't home either, because we were out playing. But (when) he came back, he liked sports. So when I was doing judo, he was very happy. And I was pretty clever, because I started real young, you know. So I was doing matches, and he would be so proud of me. [Laughs] Other than that, my mother took care of the girls, though. My father wasn't too enamored with girls anyway, you know how fathers are. And make sure the boys are sports. And so... but I remember him as, he would come back on Saturday and once in a while he'd take me to the Husky game, the Washington Huskies playing. And that was my big thrill. And then he would take me fishing, down at the Sound. Because the salmon was plentiful then, and it was edible. And we would walk down four o'clock in the morning from where we lived, all the way down to Dearborn, to the water. And we'd get in rowboats and they would tow all the rowboats out about, oh, a block, two blocks away. And release all the boats and we would fish, catch salmon. (...) Latch on to the boat again, come back in. It was quite an experience. Cold, but it was nice. I thought it was great that we walked back with the salmon. That was one of my biggest memories about fishing. Other than fishing, the kids used to (...) go down there on Saturdays, fish off the docks of Puget Sound. (The Sound) wasn't contaminated at that time. Now you can't even eat the thing. But we would catch perch, shiners --

RP: Shiners.

SK: -- rock cod once in a while. But it was plentiful. People, I think all the young kids who used to go down there, we all had our hand line, you know. Get the worms in the yard and it was quite an experience. We would all go down. And we never, hardly ever swam in the salt water, but that Alki Beach was quite far way. And if you took a trolley, it took a long time to get there and to come back. Our parents would let us go there.

RP: Is that on the shores of (Puget Sound)?

SK: Yeah, it's kind of on the cove, you know, you go around. From Alki, you can see the whole city, looking backwards, east. And that was one of the big deals for us, to go to Alki Beach. But the swimming in salt water is not great. You know, if you're not used to, we used to always swim in the lake water. Salt water, you can float better, but you, oh boy, you gotta keep your mouth closed. [Laughs] I remember that, and it was colder than heck, too. 'Cause salt water never (changes), maybe at the surface it's warm, but not in the six inches below, it's colder as can be. That was my experiences, was swimming at Alki Beach. But it was a nice beach though, they had good sand. (...) The lake wasn't a good beach.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

RP: So where did you attend elementary school, Shig?

SK: I beg your pardon?

RP: Where did you attend elementary school?

SK: That was at Central School, which was near town. It was near the library, or the YMCA, right in town. It was on Eighth Avenue. It's not there anymore, because the highway went through there now. Went there for eight years, and then I went to Broadway High School. The building is still there, but it's not a high school anymore, it's a junior, it's a college, kind of an in-between college. And those years went pretty quickly.

RP: Did they?

SK: Yeah, it wasn't memorable. But school wasn't memorable, but it was, you know, school. School was not ever memorable unless you were the president of the class, or something. [Laughs]

RP: Exactly. But yeah, but your parents probably, like all parents, wanted their kids to get a good education.

SK: Yeah, that was the aim of all the Japanese family. Don't embarrass anybody.

RP: Don't embarrass the family, even in school? Uh-huh. So how would you grade yourself as a student? Average?

SK: About average. I wasn't a great student, but I got along pretty well.

RP: Sounds like you knew how to have fun, too.

SK: Yeah, we had a lot of fun.

RP: Now, your student body at the grammar school, was it a majority of Japanese Americans?

SK: No, it wasn't, well, pretty close to majority. Was a lot of Caucasians in that area. Not like Bailey Gatzert was all Asians, Chinese and Japanese. I think Victor went to Bailey. I don't know if he went to Bailey Gatzert.

RP: He did. And that's where --

SK: And the Pacific School was on the other side of Broadway. Was only about ten feet away from Broadway, so I had to go to Central. Anybody east of that went to Pacific. But, so most of the Japanese went to either Pacific or Bailey Gatzert.

RP: Seattle being a large community, most of these large towns in those years were made up of all their little distinctive areas or communities. Like you had Japantown, you had a Chinatown.

SK: Chinatown.

RP: Do you remember other sort of ethnic enclaves?

SK: Yeah, well, of course, on the other side, on Rainier Avenue, that was called "Garlic Gulch," it was Italian. And the Jewish people were further east of us, from about Eighteenth Avenue to the lake. And they were the wealthy people, wealthy. And the African, black Americans, they were sort of scattered. There weren't too many at the... there were a few that I knew, but they lived east of us.

RP: Other than Japanese Americans, was there any other ethnic group that you felt most comfortable relating to?

SK: No, there wasn't too many because we didn't associate with them. There's no reason to associate with 'em. So, when you had your own age groups all over the place. we kind of stayed in our own place, I guess. That's the word. They didn't welcome us, or they didn't want to hold us back or anything, but we didn't have to go there. We didn't have to mix that well. We weren't intended to be mixing, I guess. That's the word, there was no intent to mix. Because each one had their own, the Italians stuck together with the Italians, the Jewish stuck with their own. So, it wasn't the case that we wanted to be with them, we didn't have to be with them. We could live without them.

RP: In high school, was that the same situation?

SK: Well, the high school was just about the same, same feeling. Although there were some that became members of the (...) German club and all that. They played music, too. But I had no ambition to do it, because I had enough fun to play with our own group. As I was growing up, in high school, especially in high school, my dad used to come back. And when he did (not) go on trips (with) the general manager, they'd go on, he would work at these college clubs. (...) Men that went to college had their own private clubs, and they liked to hire people during the party times. And there was a few that were constantly there at the clubs, the University Club and College Club. And the University Club would have parties and they would ask my dad when he's not working on the train to come and help them. And he would bring me along as a waiter. It was kind of fun, and I'd get paid, too. Not much, but it was enough to... and I did that, and that was about junior or senior in high school. And so when I graduated from high school, I was going to start at college. My dad knew a cook at the Seattle Tennis Club right on the lake. That was a hoity-toity place. You know... just be regular whites, no Jewish. No, it was very exclusive, and it was a great tennis club. And the cooks were Japanese (...). And so my dad, whenever he wasn't working on the train, they would ask him to help cook or be a waiter. But he was a good waiter, too. And he would bring me along once in a while when they had a party. Consequently, I started working there. They said, "Would you like" -- I started college then, and they asked me, "Do you want to stay at the club?" They had a lady that was a manager, kind of an elderly woman then. And she, it was more or less I was there in case something came up. They wanted a male in the place. And I said, "Sure, that would be great." So I stayed there every day, and I went to school in the morning, and came back and I waitered at night, or help at the bar. I was underage then, but I could clean up the bar. So I was working there for about year, and the war started.

RP: Where were you going to college?

SK: I went to University of Washington.

RP: You were going to University of Washington? And what were you pursuing?

SK: B.A. Yeah, I went into B.A., but it was only about year and a half, a little over a year and a half maybe.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

RP: And how did you, did you find out about the tragic attack on Pearl Harbor?

SK: The war? Well, I had Sunday off at the college club, I mean, the Seattle Tennis Club, so I used to go home. And, somebody said, it came over the radio that, you know, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. I said, "Oh, no. Now what happened?" But then I had to go back on Sunday night, so, next morning I go to school from the Tennis Club, and I thought, "Oh, boy. This is going to be something else when I go back there," to be Japanese. But they were very kind to me. I felt almost like they were sorry for me. So I thought, gee, that's not going to be too bad. I thought they would kick me out right there, being Japanese. But they were very kind to me. And they said, "You could stay as long as you want." But then, finally, when we were shipped out of Seattle, they told me I could go home about a week or two ahead, and then I'd quit school by then. There was no animosity or name-calling. Not that I was grateful for it, but I was kinda surprised, more than anything else, yeah.

RP: So what was your mindset like after Pearl Harbor, before you got, between the Pearl Harbor and evacuation? Did you feel like something was going to happen to Niseis?

SK: Yeah, I thought sure, there's something was going to happen. But I didn't think the enormity of the situation would be what they were doing to us.

RP: Right. You were aware that Isseis were being--

SK: I knew that it wasn't going to be very comfortable, number one. What they were going to do, because, would they come after us, are the Caucasians gonna come after us? Or the rest of the world would be against us? Because already Germany was being, German, Italy, the tripartite was already signed. So I thought, well, we're in trouble. Deep trouble. But I didn't think of the enormity of the situation would be that we'd all be evacuated from Seattle. Of course, by this time, the tension was building anyway. Something was gonna happen. So on, on December 24th, when the general of the western hemisphere, western part of the United States, he said that, "Don't worry about it. Nobody will be evacuated." American citizen... are American citizen. Well, he changed his mind real quick in about three weeks.

RP: Yeah, how could you trust the government after --

SK: Yeah, so I said, "Oh, well." But then, by then, when they signed the 9066, you probably heard about that, the President signed that. I don't think it meant that we would, everyone was to be sent out of the area, especially the American citizens. We were greatly surprised. But even the Supreme Court said it was okay.

RP: Did you ever have any sense of, you know, a sense of outrage about it?

SK: Not so much the outrage then. By then, it just felt like well, this is just gonna come, and what can you do about it attitude. It was kind of resignation that we're sorry it was our parents' country that did it. But there's not much we could say about it, because our face is Japanese. If we were Italian or German, it would never happen. Because how can you segregate people, picking out, "Are you German? Or what are you?" But the Japanese or Chinese, were just like blacks are black, we're yellow. We were called the "Yellow Peril' for many years, down in California. So, I figured that sooner or later, something was gonna happen. But I didn't think of the enormity of the whole thing, when everybody gets... I thought maybe California might. Because those are active people, vigilantes down there. But I didn't think it would happen to us. But it did. I think it was forty-eight hours to go, or so.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: You had forty-eight hours?

SK: Yeah, to pack up and leave. They posted it on the telephone poles of every place.

RP: And what was, what was the family's evacuation experience like? Could you kind of lead us through what decisions had to be made and what you did with your property?

SK: Yeah, by that time, we had moved up a few blocks, about a half a mile away from where we originally were born. And the only thing that we bought new, my sister bought, was the refrigerator. I can't remember any other thing real valuable. But fortunately, they said we could bring our things to the church, the Episcopal church that we belonged to, and they boarded it up inside the church. So I never asked whatever... it wasn't our home. It was a rented home anyway. The other day, my sister was saying, "I wonder what happened to that refrigerator?" Brand new refrigerator. It just goes to show, that's the only thing that was valuable in our house.

RP: You have any vehicles or anything?

SK: No, we never had a car.

KP: Can I ask a question? What was your father's experience after December 7, 1941? With his job and everything?

SK: You mean his job and all?

KP: Yeah, did he, was he able to stay working?

SK: No. He was told, when they heard that we were being evacuated, his job stopped right there.

RP: He wasn't fired or terminated after Pearl Harbor?

SK: No, he wasn't terminated right away.

RP: Uh-huh, okay. Some of the railroad workers in certain places were.

SK: Yeah, like the porters, they were all fired right away. But he stayed on a little longer.

RP: State employees, Too, were also dismissed. You know, worked for government organizations.

SK: Yeah, they were... but he wasn't immediately fired, if I recall correctly.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: So you went to "Camp Harmony," you evacuated to "Camp Harmony." And tell us a little bit about what that was like for you. "Camp Harmony"?

SK: Yeah.

RP: Tell us about how that was for you.

SK: Well, it wasn't a tragic thing for me, you know, but it was kind of tragic for my parents. Because you had six kids living in the little quarter. And the quarters were not elegant places, they were animal stalls really. And it was kind of a, it wasn't a painful experience, let's put it that way. It wasn't like the Third Reich where they were killing people, it didn't come to that. So it wasn't a tragic place where it was a matter of life and death. But when you think about it, it wasn't that enormous happening to us, because we didn't know anything anyway. There was no future in being a Nisei, second generation, graduating from college, you can't get a job. We knew that. But the parents want their son to go to college, no matter what. It's a matter of prestige, I guess, or should be doing it. My sister never got to go to college. Except for the youngest one, when they were way past that stage. But I think being in camp was, oh, it was just like bumming around. That what it really was. There was no future, we didn't know what was going to happen to us. So we made the best of it by being ourselves and just talking to each other and getting together and playing sports. 'Cause there wasn't a thought of being harmed. Although you saw guards hanging out there with guns and if you didn't make a break for it, you're safe. And the life went along. We were fed three times a day. It wasn't like you're going to be starved to death if you were in the camp in the German camps, they were starved to death almost. Either you were killed, or you starved to death. So we didn't feel that it was being severely attacked. And most of us, right after the big Depression in the United States, we didn't have anything. There were a few that had businesses. I'm sure there were quite a few that had businesses that they lost. But the majority didn't. They were trying to eke out a living, and during the Depression, I heard of people eating dandelions 'cause they couldn't get any kind of... or go fishing and eat fish every day. That was a big thing during Depression. Or eating mushrooms and eating plants. But my father was working, so there was not a big strain on us. But I'm sure a lot of families were, suffered greatly during the Depression. And being in camp was not a... well, as Victor probably told you, it was just, at our age, we didn't have a family, our own family. But I'm sure if you had a family, it was a tragic thing. I thought about it later that, gee, raising your own family, you wonder how in the hell they survive, you know, trying to keep the kid alive. 'Cause there's no doctors to think of. They had some doctors, but not in "Harmony."

RP: Oh, not in "Harmony."

SK: Flies all over. Fleas and flies. It wasn't a pleasant place to be, but we made the best of it, I guess. We survived.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: And then you were shipped out to Minidoka.

SK: Minidoka, yeah. That was a experience by itself, anyway. But that was supposed to be a permanent place. But as soon as you got there and you see all the guards, and the guards are in position, it's all fenced in, barb wired. And you see the guards all posted around the place. You think, "This is it." "Do you mean we have to live here for the rest of our life?" You know, you get that kind of feeling. (...) Each barrack was about 20 by 120 feet. I don't know if you heard about this, someone already told you, but, and there were six families generally. And we had a big family, so we were at the very last, very last room. And there was eight of us in this one room, with a pot belly... and my dad was not very handy with his hands. A lot of people made furniture out of wood that was discarded when they built the place. So I, I kind of helped and made shelves and desks and stuff like that. But my dad didn't even know how to turn a screwdriver, I don't think at that time. He was spoiled rotten. [Laughs] But the experience was, during the winter it was cold, very cold. And summer was dusty. (...) It wasn't pleasant weather, except in the summer it was kind of nice. But winter was cold and muddy.

RP: Right, there were really some terrible drainage problems in the camp there. Water would just stand around and you'd have to slosh through it.

SK: Yeah, it was soft dirt. When they scrape anything, you got soft dirt, if you try to build something on it. But everyone made the best of it. Of course, when we first started, when we first got there, there was no toilets, no bathtubs, no showers. You had to wash up... and it was all, toilets, outdoor toilets anyway. I mean, there wasn't even toilet. But, little by little, they started making showers and doing a lot of other things as they went along. But somehow human being are very accommodating and they can feel that if you don't have it, you live without it kind of attitude. So everybody survived, I thought everybody wasn't unhappy with each other, as long as you had three meals going, I think. It's kind of like, it was like a fairy tale, I thought about it later. Like, it was almost like a fairy tale that you just survived, it was just a matter of survival. And it wasn't difficult to survive, but you survived.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

SK: And until the government realized that gee, this was folly, and then they came with that "loyalty oath." Then you wonder, "Well, now, what in the world is this?" You have a "loyalty oath," trying to say, "Will you be loyal to the United States or will you be loyal to your native land?" And we're American citizen. Would you ask a German or Italian or any white, Caucasians, give you a "loyalty oath," "Will you sign this loyalty act, loyalty oath that you would support America?" Well, of course you would. Why wouldn't you? You were born here, you're American. And then to insult somebody, to say, "Would you be willing to sign this oath?" Of course, there were a lot of people that went in an uproar, and some were sent to jail because they won't sign.

RP: Some were sent to Tule Lake.

SK: Yeah, Tule Lake, and that was a bad one for everybody.

RP: So you remember a lot of, a lot of discussions and controversy over the --

SK: Oh, yeah. The families were broken up about it. Some parents were not understanding. They said, "No, no way. Because you people are Americans, why would you sign a loyalty oath to Japan when you don't even know the country?"

RP: Uh-huh. How did that whole scenario play out in your family?

SK: Well, my dad left it up to me. 'Cause we had a lot of kids, and we'e all Americans. So, he left it up to us, and we voted whatever we want to write. And all of us, we signed the oath that we, although we knew it was wrong, but we want to be American. One, either they punished us as being non-American, but we figured something was going to happen to us. They can't keep us in the jail, I mean, like this forever. So we discussed it. We figured that that was the best way, if you want to get out of this thing.

RP: Yeah, part of it was designed to gauge your eligibility to leave the camp, or relocate. Or, you know, being drafted, or volunteer.

SK: Be drafted, yeah. Because after the volunteers came in and wanted to know if we could volunteer.

RP: And Minidoka, I guess, happened to be the camp with the largest number of volunteers.

SK: Yeah, as it turned out.

RP: As it turned out.

SK: I think the California people were a little different. There were a lot of them that spoke a lot of Japanese, too, among them. They were, some more like rabble-rousers.

RP: You're referring to the Manzanar camp and Tule Lake?

SK: Tule Lake, Manzanar.

RP: Those were the camps with the most "no-no" answers. And I think Minidoka on the other -- was the opposite. Was the most "yes-yes" answers and kinda trying to understand what, what factors entered into that.

SK: I think, like, they were more Japanesey. Although they were Americans, they were more Japanesey. Whereas, the people in the Northwest weren't. They were more Americanized than they were. 'Cause somehow, they were, I don't what the things they did and how they behaved. There were a lot of people there.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

KP: So your first experience with the Californians was after the questionnaire, when the people from Tule Lake came to Minidoka? Was that... where was this?

SK: Yeah, some came from there, but not too many. Because a lot of them wanted to get out of there, because it was getting pretty... rabble-rousers were really getting onto people that signed "yes."

KP: And that was your first experience with the Californians?

SK: Yeah, that's when I first learned that there was a difficulty with it. Because we don't correspond with them. But when they start coming in, we realize that something was going on. These people were being harmed, I guess.

RP: Right, and they had to make room for all the quote "disloyals" coming in from other camps. So they started sending out all the "loyal" Tuleans out... and you guys got, I think, 2,000.

SK: Yeah, that was really a problem.

RP: In talking about groups and different perspectives and things, Minidoka actually had three different groups. You had a group of Japanese Americans from Seattle, Washington, and you had a rural Japanese population, then you had folks from Portland.

SK: Portland, right.

RP: Yeah. Can you discuss a little bit about the interchanges between those groups? Did they all kinda stay amongst themselves?

SK: Yeah, in the beginning, see, Block 5 was on the one tail end of it. It was kind of like there was a school in the middle. And then the others kept up to 36, I think, Block 36. The Portland group went up to the other end. And we were on the, the Northwest people were generally on the lower side. We got along pretty good as far as that goes, because (...) before the war, we used to play basketball against the Portland people. They would come to Seattle, and Seattle people would go there. And the girls knew the men, you know how the girls are. That's, my wife was born in Portland. And she would tell me all this about what happened, when the kids came over there. Which kids were real cute and all that stuff, you know. But we got along real well. In fact, the whole camp, there wasn't a section where there was one against the other.

RP: Like there was in Manzanar and Tule Lake.

SK: Yeah, not like some of the camps that were all divided and you couldn't dare walk into that side or this side, you know. But I think our camp was one of the more peaceful places to live.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

RP: Did you work in camp?

SK: Yeah, not work. I mean, you get a job so you can draw a little stipend from the government. And my job, it wasn't really a job. I was in what they call a community center. There was a major newspaper for the whole camp, and then they had smaller ones, small local groups for their area. And I was one of the reporters for one of the areas. Block 5-7, all the lower blocks.

RP: Oh, the lower blocks.

SK: Yeah, and so we would go once a week to the community center, meet with the bosses, you know, the big, from the WRA. And we would discuss what's going on, what you can't print, what you could do, you can't do. Don't get too excited about this or that. And said, "Okay." So we reported the local news, just for the local people. Each one had a section that, and I did that. Because of that, for the little thing I did like that, it went on my MO on my army. So that followed me all through and got me easy jobs, you know, it's a strange coincidence that that happened that way. But that's the way it happened.

RP: So you kind of were like the beat reporter for your section of the camp.

SK: Yeah, I walked the beat for that place. It was mostly about sports and what's happening in the area. Because the big paper, did the picture of the whole camp. And the small ones like us, we printed once a week. And I did that a short time, because I left, but that put me in as a reporter. [Laughs]

RP: Yeah, you suddenly, you suddenly had a title.

SK: Yeah, a title.

RP: But it also enabled you to get to know people in the camp.

SK: Yeah, I kinda knew. Although we knew everybody just about anyway. Because our areas was most of the Seattle area, or local area. And the Portland area was a little different.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

RP: Well, let's talk about the real nitty-gritty, like drinking, smoking.

SK: The what?

RP: Drinking, smoking, and dating.

SK: Oh, oh, yeah. Well, of course, I started smoking when I went to camp. I went to Camp Harmony. I mean, somebody had cigarettes. I don't know where they got the money for 'em. But then, drinking, of course, I was by age, was of age anyway. But when I went to Minidoka, there was nothing else to do. But somebody would go into town and bring in a bottle of cheap wine, 4 Roses and all that stuff, stuff that you can't even buy anymore. And we would drink a little bit. And people like Victor, they would want some drink. And we said, "No, you're too young. You're not twenty-one yet." And so, but it wasn't, a lot of the first-generation people, they made their own, out of rice.

RP: Sake?

SK: Sake.

RP: Shochu?

SK: They drank that. I knew they drank that. The way they acted after they cooked. [Laughs] And during the nights, there's nothing else for them to do, I guess. But we didn't drink that much, cause we couldn't afford it. It was a rare thing that somebody went into town and got it, the little amount we had.

RP: Now you were part of a very tightly knit group of guys.

SK: Yeah. There was a lot of those.

RP: Yeah?

SK: Yeah.

RP: And your group was called the OTs?

SK: Yeah.

RP: Uh-huh. And how did you guys get your nickname?

SK: There was about twenty of us, I think. I don't know if there was twenty, fifteen or so.

RP: Did you know each other before camp?

SK: Not all of 'em. But some kind of drifted in, because of the proximity of each others' homes, I mean, and if you didn't belong to somebody, what were you going to do all day long? Either we played baseball together, or went ice skating together, it was kind of fun. And you play cards. And nobody had money, but we played Japanese hana, a card game. And we tried to invent games to play with. And when we got a bottle of whiskey or something, boy, everybody was, "What the hell is that?" [Laughs] Young kids anyway. But they all wanted to try it. They all got sick.

RP: So most of you were about the same age, or other than Victor?

SK: Yeah, no, his group there was about five, that had to go to school. We'd chase them out to school every morning. A lot of them didn't go. We told them to get the hell outta there, but other than that, we were, I think there was a need for being comrades. Because otherwise, you're ostracized and where can you go? You didn't want to go to the next block, because you didn't even know anybody there. So it was kind of a nice feeling that you belong to somebody. And the parents, I don't know if the parents appreciated that. Because they would eat in Block 5, my father's... like Junks, or Victor would come over and they would eat. 'Cause there wasn't the stigma that you can't eat, you have to eat with your family. So the family life became sort of --

RP: Fractured?

SK: -- fractured. Very much so. 'Cause you didn't sit as a family to eat, you ate with your friends. Even the girls did the same thing. And I think that was one of the biggest thing that my mother complained about. She said, " Gee, there's no family life." And she (knew) a lot of families, the parents didn't have control of their kids anymore. They were more faithful to their friends than they were to their parents. And I think that did fracture the family, this kind of thing.


RP: So with the kind of break-up of the traditional family ties, there was a need to bond together with other groups like you guys.

SK: You need someone to bond, not to love so much, but just to bond, to have a feeling of family, I think. Because the whole family was (...) sort of fractured anyway. It's too bad it happened that way. 'Cause the youngest brother of mine, there's thirteen years difference between myself and him. And my younger sisters, I never knew the family, because when I came back from the army, then I went to school back in Seattle, came back to University of Washington. Consequently, all the growing up age, I never knew them until they grew up. And it was kind of a shame that we lost all that. But we kept in touch, which was great. And my youngest brother lives in upper New York and I live in Seattle (...) and my sisters all live in Chicago.

RP: Right in the middle.

SK: They're right in the middle.

RP: You'll have to meet in Chicago.

SK: But now we're closer than ever.

RP: Even though you're so distant geographically, it's sort of ironic. You know, Victor was telling me, actually, it was Tom. His son was telling me that this group kind of experienced sort of a schism in camp when the "loyalty questionnaire" came out. He said that seven guys were "no-nos" and seven guys were "yes-yes."

SK: I didn't know the exact count, because I left right after that. But there was a couple of 'em I know, that I knew real well who they were. But the other, I don't know how they signed. But the one, my brother-in-law, my sister married him in Chicago. The one that's right in the middle. And he was a "no-no." And there was the one, two, yeah, then there was three of them.

RP: In your group?

SK: In our group. But their parents were very strict. They're very strict parents. And I think they just follow what the father and mother said. They didn't give 'em a chance, I don't think.

RP: Like your parents did? Said you know, you're old enough, you decide.

SK: More democratic, you might say. How would you like to be treated? How would you want to be signing? (...) I felt sorry for some of them because that's the way they got pushed. But they justified it afterwards that that's the way they felt. But I think since they followed the parents' idea more, but I would never say that to anybody, I would never in the world. So, but they survived, although they had that stigma against them from the returning veterans. They really took a bashing when they came back.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

RP: So you left camp shortly after the "loyalty questionnaire"?

SK: Yeah, I went to school. That came in '93 of September, I think or so.

RP: Oh, '43?

SK: Yeah, I think, of '43. But I went to school in '43, June of '43. I went to Cincinnati.

RP: You went to University of Cincinnati. And was that arranged through the student relocation program? You know, allowing Niseis to continue their education?

SK: Go out? Yeah, as long as you didn't go to the coast, you were allowed to go out. Strangely, that's the funny thing. You're held there because you might be spying and all that. But I think the government realized the folly of the whole thing. It just kind of fell apart. But as long as they were there, now what are you gonna do with them? You know, so each family, if you wanted to go out, and (...) work at some other place, you can. You were given a fare to go out, and $90. It's up to you to figure that out when you come out, you know, go out there and do it.

RP: Why did you choose Cincinnati?

SK: I didn't choose it. That was one of the schools that they okayed people to come out of camp like that. That was a church thing, I think.

RP: They sponsored you?

SK: Yeah (...). Because the person that was our priest in Seattle, was a priest, but he was not ordained. But it was by choice, it wasn't by choice. He became our priest. But then we all went to community church, because he couldn't give the service, Episcopal service, and the wine and the bread. Well, the Bishop of Idaho came in, the Bishop Lewis came in to the camp to see what's going on. And this, the guy that was going to the seminary, he was not a priest, so he made him a... he ordained him right there. He said, "Now you call your people together again." So we became the Episcopal church again, not the community church. And he's the one that instigated all this going out. He talked to the main, to the New York office. And he worked the program where --

RP: Made arrangements.

SK: -- arrangements for us to go out. Which was a great deal for us.

RP: Now this priest who became a priest in camp arranged for you departure to Cincinnati.

SK: Yeah, he was quite a guy.

RP: Was he?

SK: Yeah, he came actually from Japan. He was born in Japan. And he was in Seattle, his brother was our priest. And he encouraged him to come to Seattle and go to seminary. Well, the war broke out, he couldn't go back anymore. Consequently, he stayed with us and his brother went to Tule Lake. He went to Tule Lake, he got grabbed and put into Tule Lake. So we had him. And he was not an ordained minister, but he was a priest. And they called him the priest. And so he went with the whole gang to Minidoka and he did his duty.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

RP: During your time in camp, which was not very long, did you have any opportunity to go outside of camp into Twin Falls?

SK: Oh, yeah.

RP: Uh-huh. And what was the purpose of that trip?

SK: Well, to Filer, which was outside -- well, in the beginning we used to go do different farms to pick...

RP: Sugar beets?

SK: Potatoes, mostly potatoes. Very scrawny, some farms are pretty scrawny. [Laughs] But they didn't have any workers. So they wanted employees, and somebody to work out there. And they, I guess they thought the value of us going out there to work and coming back again every night. Driving us out, bringing us back, they could do that. Concession was made, I guess. So a lot of us, of our age, went out. And we picked straw-, I mean, potatoes. And they were very nice to us, the farmers were. Of course, why wouldn't they?

RP: Well, yeah, you were saving their butts.

SK: We're picking up their crops for them. Yeah. They came after us, and they fed us very well for noon lunch. Then we'd go home and eat.

RP: Did you do just one furlough? I mean, did you work on one particular farm, or a number of different...

SK: Well, that was one particular one.

RP: And how long would one of these --

SK: And then they said there's a place called Filer that had housing for workers that used to come through there before, I guess. Labor that used to come through, helping. So we went to Filer and we had to cook for ourselves. Eat potatoes every day.

RP: Eat potatoes every day. [Laughs]

SK: And then we used to go out to the different farms.

RP: So you would be driven?

SK: By that time, then it got colder, we got sugar beets.

RP: Harvesting sugar beets?

SK: Chopping. Yeah, harvesting sugar beets.

RP: Chopping them up and throw 'em in the...

SK: That was nice experience. It was the same group that went out, the OT gang.

RP: Oh, you went out as a group.

SK: As a group, they put us...

RP: Well, that must have been a little bit of a fun thing.

SK: Yeah, it was kind of a fun thing.

RP: Have your buddies with you.

SK: Yeah, there were some girls out there that came, too.

RP: Oh, there were?

SK: Yeah, not too many. But they worked, too.

RP: So you'd go out, you'd be driven out to the farms.

SK: We went there, we were driven out there and we stayed there. We lived out there in Filer.

RP: In Filer.

SK: So, and they had showers like things. It was kind of a nice place. Not nice, but it was quite nice in the sense that we could do that, we had freedom. If we wanted, we could go to town. But we didn't have any money, so why should we go to town? [Laughs] Until we got paid.

RP: A lot of, a lot of folks from Minidoka --

SK: All of them went.

RP: Yeah.

SK: Some worked to pick as labor, daily labor.

RP: Yeah. I heard a story about one farmer who actually loaned a group of internees his vehicle to travel back and forth from camp.

SK: Yeah, there's some that had cars, they drove. So they trusted them. And they were, and Japanese work hard. Their history of the Japanese, they do work hard. They're not lazy workers. And it was kind of nice to work and to get paid for it. So it was kind of a nice interlude, is the word, I guess.

RP: Break up the monotony.

SK: Break up the humdrum life of playing cards and just hanging around, not doing a thing. I think all the men went out, unless you were on coal crew. They were a separate bunch, the dirty bunch. [Laughs]

RP: The dirty bunch.

SK: Yeah, they pick up the coal from the train that came in.

RP: That's what kept you warm.

SK: Yeah, during the winter.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

RP: So what was it like, what was your feeling heading for Cincinnati and establishing, re-establishing your college education?

SK: Yeah, it was, when we first got there, the Friends Society, you know, the Quakers.

RP: The Quakers.

SK: They had a hostel there. And I was surprised at how many Japanese men were there, men and women. I was telling my wife the other day, I said, "I was surprised that there were so many there." But my buddy and I, the four of us that went together, we worked at the Commons at the University of Cincinnati. And the younger guy that I was with, he, of course he was a preacher's son, but he had a nice easy job. He was a soda jerk in the Commons, Cincinnati Commons. Whereas these men had to fed three meals a day, and they occupied the whole hall they had upstairs, and the kitchen. And my job was to get up at five in the morning, and I get down there and get it all ready for the men to come, set it up. Not cooking, but set up all the outside things, with about three other people. And then when they ate and left, we had to clean up all the mess, clean the floor, mop the floor every day, just about. 'Cause that's the army tradition, you gotta keep it clean. And I did that for about a year until I got called.

RP: Oh, while you were going to school you did that.

SK: Yeah, but I got up five, then I took a full load of classes. But they allowed me to get out, well, noontime, it's lunch time anyway. And I would breakfast, serve breakfast, then I go to class. Come back and do things for the lunch. Come back after go to school, then I stay for, get ready for dinner. And then after I cleaned it all up, then I go back home, I study. Start the same thing over next morning. Five in the morning, I gotta get down there.

RP: So this was the hostel that you were working at.

SK: No, it's a school. University of Cincinnati.

RP: Oh, it was the school. Okay. It was like a dormitory?

SK: No, yeah. I stayed in a fraternity house in the beginning, across the street, not a block away. But my buddy and I decided that wasn't living, you know, living with all the guys upstairs. So we rented a place that was above a, right around the corner. There was a drugstore, they had two apartments upstairs, so he and I rented one place, 'cause we were getting money then. We were earning our keep. So, working eight hours a day. And he and I took that room. There was another room that was behind us, some married couple came there. But it was a nice place. Just one room with a, you had the common bathroom.

RP: How were you accepted by the community there?

SK: Oh, very well. In fact, the restaurants around there.

RP: Everybody served you.

SK: All the students (...) treated me just like any other student, all the classes I went to. We didn't think how it was going to be, but it was pretty good. I wouldn't have mind if I stayed there another year, anyway.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

RP: Then Uncle Sam had some plans for you.

SK: Yeah, I got called by the draft board. I remember we went to the draft board and they marched us in the street. We didn't know how to march, but we were traipsing down. The people knew that we were going to war. [Laughs]

RP: So you put in for the 442nd, or how did that work out?

SK: No, I told them that, "This could be very difficult for you to place me, being Oriental and especially Japanese. How about sending me to my original place? Because then I got a chance to go with the 442nd." He said, "That's a good idea." He agreed about it. Cause they would have had a hard time trying to place me with a Caucasian group. Especially if they were goin' to war with Japan. So they said, "Okay, you can go back, and we'll transfer your draft board back to Salt Lake City." So that's how I (went) back. It took them about six months to call me again. And the six months probably saved my life, too.

RP: So in that six month time, you went back to Cincinnati?

SK: No, so I went back, then I got drafted in Salt Lake, Fort Douglas. And from Fort Douglas, we were all shipped to --

RP: Camp Blanding?

SK: Camp Blanding in Florida.

RP: So, I think you told me earlier that that six months you had to go back to Minidoka?

SK: Yeah, I just hung around, waiting for them to call me.

RP: Call you again?

SK: And then when we went, we were all, true enough, we were all from the camp. We were all driven. All the whole group was from the camp.

RP: Some of your buddies, too?

SK: Yeah, there was quite a few. Not a lot, but all over, from all the other camps, too.

KP: Can I ask you how it was different after you had been out and been to school, then come back to the camp? Did the camp seem different to you then?

SK: Yeah, because, parents, you know, my siblings, the younger ones were still there. So it wasn't, I had my family there, but a lot of the fellows were gone because they were drafted or went to other jobs.

RP: Farming.

SK: In New York. Because it was okay to go out then. So it was completely different. There were a few guys that were there, they were all waiting for the same thing, getting drafted. So we had to hang around.

KP: But I guess you also knew it would be over, you wouldn't be there forever.

SK: Yeah, we didn't think that the war would be over, not for a while anyway. And of course, my parents, my mother especially was sick because all of the news of fatalities and, you know, they were coming back to the camp. And they were giving, army personnel would come, and they would tell them that your son was dead. It was a big tragedy. Then all the people, the "no-no" people would say, "See what happens? Your son is killed," and all that, but my mother knew that. But she was a very religious woman, she was praying for us, paying for everybody really. So when I went into the army, she knew that probably that was the last. But she never told me that though. She told me later. She thought that when you left... but I think, so of course we were young, so we didn't know what happens at war, nobody knew. If we'd get killed, or you hear of people dying, but you don't know how did they die. Was it quick? Was it long? But we thought, well, we're gonna to go to camp and we're gonna get trained to be in the infantry. And we replaced the 442nd.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

RP: So you went to Camp Blanding, Florida.

SK: Yeah.

RP: Uh-huh, that was your basic training.

SK: Yeah, then we got through with our training. And that was in April. And we went to Fort Meade to get ready to be shipped out. But all of a sudden, they felt like, you know, what to do with us, because the war was kind of coming to, they felt like it was going to come to an end. Said, hey, let's do this. And we hung around and hung around at Fort Meade waiting to be transferred.


SK: And then we were hanging around there, and then, "Gee, I wonder gee, what's happening." And then, then finally you realize that the war is over. Oh my God, that's what happened, that the war is over. And he says, "We don't have to go to Europe maybe." Well, we didn't know that. Because you still had to go back there because there were prisoners to be taken care of and see what they're going to do with it. Then the draft, the people from Fort Snelling came down, the recruiters came down, right away. Being Japanese, and the war in Japan was still going on. And so they all interviewed us and thought nothing of it. But then, the same day they came back and said, "Okay, you, you, you, you, you. You're coming to Fort Snelling." And I said, "Yeah, but I know Japanese that well." "That doesn't matter. You went to Japanese school once." [Laughs] We all did, until we got to high school. And he said, "You went to college. You're in."

RP: Oh, boy. Two strikes against you.

SK: Yeah, but we don't want to go. "Yes, you are." Because we thought we're gonna go to Guam or someplace and get killed in the front or back.

RP: So you thought you'd escape the war, but...

SK: Boy, I thought, get into another war.

RP: You might be going to the other side.

SK: Yeah, that's worse yet.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

RP: Yeah, so you ended up at Fort Snelling and what was that? What was training?

SK: Training was intense. Very intense. Not like you go to college and you're on your own. But there they're hammering you all the time, day and night. Not night, but day, all day long, they go from class to class. It was very intense.

RP: And did you receive any specialized training in a particular area like some guys learned radio operation, some learned how to write propaganda.

SK: No, because, we were about, a little over half through. And I think from then on, maybe they would have sectioned us off. You go to this kind of class, that kind of class. But we were still going at it full blast, learning the basic Japanese. And then the war ended. All of the sudden they said, "The war ended." [Laughs] So what's gonna happen? They said, "Well, you guys are gonna be shipped out." Oh yeah, but we didn't finish school yet. "Doesn't matter. You guys are goin'." So by October, we were on the boat and ready to go. We went to Yokohama.

RP: Yokohama, uh-huh.

SK: In fact, it was so stormy, it was the worst storm. Brand new liberty ship, and we had toilet, the toilet was flooding. And we crossed the international borderline twice, it pushed us all the way back, and we went back again. And we blew an engine. So we were on the auxiliary, and we finally pulled into Yokohama.

RP: How long was that?

SK: Everybody got sick.

RP: Yeah, was that about a two week trip or something?

SK: Oh, it was fourteen days, it took us.

RP: That's the longest you'd ever been on a boat.

SK: Oh, yeah. But I'd never got sick. There was only about ten of us that went to dinner or lunch and breakfast. Everybody else was sick.

RP: Did you have any expectations about what you were gonna see when you got to Japan?

SK: No idea. We knew that the atom bomb fell in Hiroshima and (Nagasaki). But we didn't know how much Yokohama and Tokyo were hit. But when we saw Yokohama, we knew that it was really bombed. Especially at night, you realize, oh, my God, it was dark. And we went to Zama, which was a camp for military personnel. When we first got there, they shipped us right away. We got on a train and we went to, got on the buses, went to Zama, which is a little far away from Yokohama. But it was so dismal at night. There was hardly any light. And they wouldn't let us roam around anyway, 'cause they didn't know how we'd be treated out there. But it was quite an experience when we first got there. I thought, "So this is war. Oh, God, this is what happens to a city."

RP: Even Tokyo worse with firebombing.

SK: No, Tokyo wasn't quite as bad. But Yokohama was worse, especially on the waterfront. They were trying to hit the shipping lanes, so it was quite a experience. But being pretty naive about these wars, I'd never seen war before. You really don't realize what happened. But all the people that were killed and houses were burned down. Because the Japanese homes are built pretty flimsy, you know. You caught a fire here, the whole area gets burned out. It was quite a experience. I think everybody was kinda silenced by all that they saw going, driving through when we first got there.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

RP: And so what were you assigned to do as part of the occupation force?

SK: Yeah, we were part of the... there was a pool in Tokyo called ATIS. And they had all the pool of all the people that went to Military Intelligence School. And I thought well, I wonder where I'd be. Well, my MO was reporter. [Laughs] So, and the building, it was big building with all the military personnel, American personnel. And they said, "You're assigned to the newspaper." Not the Stars and Stripes, not the national one, you know.

RP: What was it?

SK: It was just for the ATIS people. The Allied, the translating sections.

RP: So did you cover...

SK: I said, "What am I going to report on?" "Well, you can report on anything that happens for the personnel, then all the, what the colonel wants you to put in there."

RP: After all, you got all that great training at Fort Snelling --

SK: Yeah, then I'm doing that with English. You know, I'm doing it in English. I had to go review shows and things so I could report it back to the newspaper so that those guys could go see it. If it was good, bad, or otherwise. The Japanese things happening and the military things that's happening. And the ball games would be this and that. I'd go and interview all the players, from different sections of Japan that came to tournaments. So it wasn't the highlight of my career, is the word, I guess. [Laughs]

RP: Boy, that really followed you around, like you said.

SK: Yeah, like, I don't know. When I think back about it, I think, gee, all that training and I do that kind of stuff. But fortunately, when the whole group of us was transferred to all different areas, to different jobs, and I was on a train to go towards Hiroshima. And they stopped in Osaka and there were some people pushed out of there. And we went to Kyoto which was the next stop. And he said, "Kaseguma." "Yes, sir." "Outta here." I get my bag and I said, "Who else is coming with me?" He said, "You're by yourself." [Laughs] "Why do you want to send me out all by myself?" "Alright, your MO says you're out. Get outta here." And so I went, all by myself. I thought, "Oh my God," you know, "what is this?" And I was transferred to the military I Corps. They had a military government in Kyoto, and I was assigned to that area, to that building. And we only had about forty-five people. Enlisted men, not the officers. Though the officers were there, too, we had forty-five men. And we had nightclub, we commandeered a nightclub. And we had cooks and all that. It was one of my pleasant places to be. They gave us all the beer we wanted, every week we got a case of beer. And I didn't drink American beer, at that time, but, my job at the I Corps office was to, military government, was monitor all the ships coming in and going out. So I had to call all the different cities, Yokohama, Tokyo.

RP: Oh, that's for the entire country?

SK: All where the ships are coming in. And I was, (monitoring) everything that's coming in. And when these things got kind of hairy, we couldn't get enough report, they would send me into Tokyo, because I could speak the language. Make sure, "How come we don't get these forms?" or this and that. And I would go into town and I'd bring it back. So, I had my own freedom. But it was, you think, gee, this is war? What am I doing? Things like, but I guess it was a lot better than carrying (...) a rifle, like we were trained to do. So I was surviving, no problem.

RP: How did the Japanese people accept you and Americans in general?

SK: Yeah, in general, I don't know if they... they're very reticent people anyway. So, and they don't dare insult anybody in a uniform. It could be, that might be it. But they were very nice to us, and all of us. I wonder, if you have a Japanese face, but how come you're wearing American uniform and we can speak the language. Not great, but you know, we can speak it. And they couldn't figure out, "What the heck are you?" That was their attitude. "What are you?" "How did you get this way?" It was kind of fun, because they would always be amazed when we spoke Japanese. Of course, we look Japanese. Not like typical Japanese, maybe, because we had a uniform on. But it was quite an experience. Course, I was only in there a year in Japan. Because I was going to be, army was two years. No matter what it was, two years, you were outta there.

KP: Can I ask a quick question? One of the gentleman Richard and I interviewed, he was a "no-no," his family was "no-no" and they repatriated to Japan. And then he spent two years trying to get back to the United States and he worked for the occupation forces. Did you run across people... what were your experiences with people who repatriated from...

SK: Yeah, in our office, the women were, there were, gee, maybe about ten of them. They worked in the office where I came in. They all looked at me like, you know. And I knew one of the girls, we went to high school together in Seattle. I says, "My God, Dorothy, is that you?" She said, "Is that you, Shig?" I said, "Oh my God, what a small world." She said, "Yeah, our family got repatriated." And one of the other girls later on married one of the guys from Seattle, and she started a travel agency here in Seattle -- not here, in Seattle. She was very successful. And I recognized her when she came back to the United States. But oh, they invited me to parties. Not too often, but it was, (...) a strange world when you see those people and think, my God, these are the people I knew before the war, and here they are working for the American army. They were repatriated and they were working. Oh gosh, I thought, oh well.

RP: What a world.

SK: Small world.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

RP: So you returned eventually from military life to Seattle?

SK: Yeah, I was discharged in Seattle, well, in Tacoma, Fort Lewis. Because I wanted to see if I could get back to school. Then I asked them to transfer, I mean, ship me back to Wisconsin to see my folks. So that's how I went back to there. Because school didn't start 'til June, well, September. And I went back to there and I met my future wife again. I corresponded with her, she lived in Portland, she was in Portland. I called her and I said, "But I can't see you, because I got to go to... they won't let me go to Portland." She says, "Can I come?" And oh, I said, "Don't do that. You have to take a train and all that. Forget it." She says, "God, you made me mad when you said to forget it." Well, I guess so, after all those years.

RP: And she was in Minidoka, too?

SK: Yeah. That's where I met her.

RP: You met her originally?

SK: Yeah, she was from Portland

RP: You met her the first time you were in camp, or when you came back for six months?

SK: Yeah, the first time I came back, we didn't meet. That's why she was ticked off about, because I told her don't bother coming, because I'm gonna be shipped out tomorrow. So she thought the least you could have said well, can I come in, see you. But, so from there, then I came back -- I went to see my sister in Chicago, and then I came back to Seattle. I went back to school again.

RP: Completed your education?

SK: The irony of going to school, my job was, first job I got, was the Japanese, it's called the Japanese Overseas Agency. (...) It became the consul. But they couldn't call it the consul because they weren't in the position to say they were a consul, because it was after the war and surrender and all that. But there was a Japanese, instead of calling it a consul, it was the Overseas Agency. And they were trying to encourage people to invest or do business with Japan. And that was my first job, to work for that company. I worked for the Japanese people.

RP: In what capacity?

SK: As a secretary like. The English part, I would take care of, if some English firm wanted to do business with Japan, they would contact me, and I would tell them who to see or what to do, or how to do it. And I did that for about a year and a half, two years. And my uncle -- not my, my godfather, was at, started a furniture store. He used to do that before the war. He used to be a carpet cleaner, then he became a furniture store. He wanted me to take over when he got old, to take over the store. So he wanted me to, they were family friends, so he wanted me to go work for him. And I didn't want to go, because I knew... the furniture, I don't know nothing about furniture business. Why would I want to be a furniture dealer in a retail place? But he insisted I go, because that was my duty to go, because we're friends, family friends. I said okay. So that started my journey as a furniture man. I did it for thirty-four years, until I retired. So that was my basic life, right there. But, when I was with the Overseas Agency, I was still there when we became a consul. So they sent a regular Consul General, a consul there, and it was long enough there that it became a Consul General, which is a major consul. Seattle became a major consul. So I said, "Well, maybe I did my job." [Laughs] So he said, "Well, I hate to see you leave, but it seems like you have to leave." I said, "Yeah, that's true." I have to leave, so I left. In a sense, I thought, oh well.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

RP: Did your parents return back to Seattle eventually?

SK: Yeah, they came back. They went to Chicago, lived with my, after they retired, they went to Chicago. My kids, the lower two kids went and graduated. They thought they're not gonna stay in Delavan, Wisconsin, anymore, so they went to Chicago and stayed with one of my sisters. And then they decided they want to go to Seattle, my dad wanted to go back to Seattle. That's where he lived most of his adult, major life.

RP: When they returned to Seattle, did they have difficulty finding work or housing? Or did you help them out with that?

SK: Well, housing was not too much, well, there was a little problem. But he was retired then. I mean, he was of age to retire. And he drew a little pension from the, I think he needed, he had enough years to get a pension from Great Northern. But then Great Northern collapsed anyway. I mean they quit. They became, it wasn't a company anymore. But it was no problem, because by then it wasn't hard to find housing for them. But right after the war, it was a very difficult thing for people in California especially. We heard horror stories about guys in uniform, can't even get a haircut. They couldn't get homes, rent homes.

RP: Yeah, actually the uniform was more of a liability than a help.

SK: Yeah, people, well, I guess there's always people like that. They'll never change their mind, no matter what you say.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

RP: Have you returned to Minidoka in the years since your confinement there?

SK: Would I go back there?

RP: Have you been back?

SK: Oh, no. I haven't been back. My wife says she doesn't want to go back. So I said, "Okay, we won't go then."

RP: But you attended all the reunions?

SK: Yeah. Met all the people. And I think, you know, like, you always when you were younger, you think, visualize a place as it was, and you're very disappointed when you see the place. And I don't want to be disappointed. You know, see, it's just a little thing now, there's a stone thing that used to be the gate. The other part is not there. And it's all land now, I mean, farmland, or sagebrush. And it still was home for a few years, and I hate to see it the way it is now. Like so, when you said you could build a memorial there, I think, why would you want a memorial there? Because nobody goes by. I remember my son saying, "We went by there. We wanted to find the place, and we couldn't find it." He said, "It's off a beaten track." I said, "Well, it was." They didn't want it near communities, nobody wanted us. Why would be on the highway or a freeway, or whatever it is? And he said, "Well, that's true, too." But I also wonder why they have to make a nice memorial someplace where nobody in the world will see it, and the next generation will look at it and say, what kind of wording would you put on a memorial like that? I would be more interested what you would put in the verbally, not verbally, but written words. How the government fouled up and did all this to innocent people. Or what would you say? Or that brave people lived here? How did they survive here? And why would they come here? Some story. And how many people would go by it? A desolate place like that. As soon as I got that message, that form, I thought, can I write all this kind of stuff? Would I be doing right, when somebody wants it there? And I question myself, many a nights, to think, gee, what would I say if I said "yes." And what would I want to put on there? Have you people decided what you're gonna put on the memorial?

RP: On the memorial at Minidoka?

SK: Yeah, on the memorial thing, or whatever you, has there been some kind of an input into it?

RP: I think there has been. I'm not sure what has happened.

SK: Oh. But it hasn't happened yet, so...

RP: No. It is, it is administered by the Park Service. And there's plans to enlarge the site. I think they acquired additional acreage.

SK: Yeah, because then Salt Lake, I guess they had a big hullabaloo about...

RP: There were a number of meetings about general management, how to manage the site, how to develop the site.

SK: Right.

RP: I've heard plans of building a whole block of barracks back. Maybe it'll be Block 7.

SK: Oh.

RP: I mean five, sorry.

SK: Oh, they're gonna have something there.

RP: Yeah.

KP: Interpretive site, right?

RP: Right. Yeah, eventually they'll have a small interpretive center, a visitor center there at Minidoka. I think that will help draw more people.

SK: Yeah, because if you didn't have anything there, why would you go there? So I was wondering what...

RP: I'd say that most of the people that go there are probably former internees and other families.

KP: But there's a lot of people that we have at Manzanar who, you know, Caucasian people, that have become very interested in the story. And they travel around the country looking for these places, and wanting to know more about it. Because they had friends. I mean, a lot of people your age and younger had, you know, they were in those classrooms that were emptied. And all their friends were gone. And they want to know what happened. 'Cause they never really knew the story.

SK: Yeah, there are the younger people, of course. My age group was mostly can't remember anything anyway. [Laughs] Unless they wrote it down. Because it's very difficult to remember a thing, unless it happened to you. Even what happened to me, I try to remember, gee, what year was it that I did this? What year was it then, back in the '40s. It's kind of difficult to remember. It's hard enough to remember what I ate last night. You know, and then would I be able to, she says, "Why would you want to be interviewed, when you can't remember?" I said, "Well, it'll come back." As you talk, it kind of flows.

RP: It does. I mean, you went through a lot of experiences in a very short time. Puyallup, Minidoka, college, MIS, back to Minidoka. You were...

SK: And then when you're gonna die.

RP: And you go to Japan. You go to Japan.

SK: Yeah, of all things, you know.

RP: You never thought you'd end up in Japan.

SK: No. In the widest world, you know.

RP: Did you ever visit Japan on your own, too?

SK: Yeah, we went about twice now. We went on a tour once, then my wife and I went all by ourselves when I retired in '86. And we went to see my father's birthplace, you know the big land. And he was telling me, my cousin was telling me, "Oh, we all know that the Coca-colas on our land. He's leasing it." Oh, and you didn't give me a nickel off that, did ya? [Laughs] Oh boy, he's got rice fields all over the place and he's a patent lawyer, too, in another town. And he's not, his wife doesn't, his wife and his daughter used to raise rice and sell it. And that was the big deal. And the wife said, "Yes, we worked hard." But he didn't work hard. [Laughs]

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

RP: Shig, do you have any other stories that we haven't shared yet, that you'd like to share, about anything.

SK: Oh. About the life?

RP: Camp, or otherwise. Before we complete.

SK: You know, people say it was a horrible life. Well, it was, you know, for especially our parents. And they say, a lot of good came out of it, they say. But I always thought of it this way, it opened up a lot of fields for people because of what the 442nd did and what people have struggled through, have been good workers and all that. But it never mentions too much about what the government did. And a hysteria war, even the president and attorney general, they got caught up in this field of hysteria. And they're all decent people. So, if it happens again, this is what's going to happen again, against the Muslims.

RP: Do you feel like it is happening again?

SK: Yes, well, it does, because that's human nature. I think it's strange, it's human nature. And, I'm not Republican. Are you Republican? Anyway, wonder what's happening to our world that's going on right now. Now we take the attitude that we should lead all the democratic countries into becoming democratic, and we're making a kind of a mess of it. Because people that we're training tell people that been generations ahead of us becoming democratic here. That's fine for our life. But do we have the right to interfere with their life and tell them how to live? Sure it's wrong, some parts of it is wrong, and I feel that's true with any democratic country anyway, the way we treat the blacks. They say, blacks are the burden of the white Americans. But it could be the other way, too. To the blacks, the whites are the burden. I don't feel that way about it, because we share a lot of good things that the white people and the Asians, people now. But when my parents came here in the early 1900s, there was a lot of "Yellow Peril." And people in California that just hated the Chinese and Japanese, because of the way they acted. They never assimilated with the white, they had no chance because they didn't know the language. But that happened to all people that immigrated, the Irish, the Italian, they all formed their own communities. They don't live with everybody else. That's the same, except the skin was white. So that seems to be the criteria, if you look like something, that's what you are. [Laughs] That's my epilogue.

KP: Great, that's perfect. We're out of tape.

RP: Thank you.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2007 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.