Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Frank Isamu Kikuchi Interview
Narrator: Frank Isamu Kikuchi
Interviewer: John Allen
Date: November 6, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-kfrank_2-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

JA: Tell me about school. What are your memories of school?

FK: In camp?

JA: Yes.

FK: Oh, that was a downer for me because previous to the evacuation, I was -- I told you I was sixteen -- I was a senior at Cathedral High School and I had about six months to go, one semester to go, I guess, to graduate. And I was taking what's known as an academic course, a college prep course. When I went to Manzanar, one of the first things we were supposed to do was to register for school. I went and registered and there was nothing available for our class, my kind of student work, nothing, nothing at all. So I ended up not going to school. And my sister was also taking academic course here in L.A. at a Catholic high school in Lincoln Heights, St. Mary's... I forget the name of the school -- Immaculate Heart of St. Mary's? But she didn't go to school either because she was in the same boat. What they did was they concentrated on starting school up for the younger kids. If anything, if I were older, they would have made me teach one of those younger classes, I guess, because they were having trouble getting teachers initially.

JA: So how did that affect your education? Were you ever able to --

FK: No, I never did, because when went out of camp -- when the war was over, went out of camp, came out of camp, I'd start scratching for a living. And so, went the course where a lot of people do, it's the easier way, I guess. I didn't complete my education and I finally got married.

JA: So how would you describe the impact of camp on your education?

FK: Well, that was the reason I didn't go to college I guess, because previous to the war, it would have been an automatic thing for me to go to college because my family would have been able to afford it, get me through college, but after the war there was no way. In fact, after the war when we came back to L.A., we lived in an area half of the size of the room we had in the barracks, all four of us, and we had to cook and eat there for a period of time until we got enough money to get a bigger place, and we all had to work at different jobs just to live. My father was a dishwasher in a restaurant, my mother went out to clean homes. That was hard for her because she'd have to take a bus or a streetcar all the way to the West Side from East L.A. And my sister got a job in the cafeteria at Flintridge, the high school there -- I mean, college there. And I worked as a meat packer in Vernon.

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