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_2-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

JA: So even apart from the years that you were locked up in camp, with that aside, this whole experience really changed and disrupted the flow of your life afterwards.

FK: Oh, yeah, it sure did, yeah. And, you know, there's something I have to say, you know. When I was incarcerated, if you figure about my age, I was sixteen, and I had never been, had a job or worked before... yeah, I helped at the store and all that but I never had a paying job. And when I went to camp it seemed like an adventure thing, almost like a Boy Scout camping trip type of deal, and too dumb to realize 'til much later on, that the impact it had on my folks must have been really a trauma because here they worked all their lives, and in one swoop, everything they worked for was gone and they were penniless, or near penniless. And at some time they're going to have to go out and face the outside world and start from scratch at their old age. I thought about that much, much, later and I was too dumb to realize it myself at that age, but I do realize it now. So, gee, I really have to appreciate how my parents bore up against, against all that.

Something unfortunate happened just before evacuation that... it was one of the first times I heard my mother and father have a really bad quarrel, argument, whatever, because my dad had sold his store, you know, he had all the proceeds in a big fat wallet. And he had to go to court for something and he made a telephone call from the court, you know, the pay phone at the court area, and he put that wallet on top of the telephone and left it there. That's why I say we were penniless because there was all the proceeds from the sale of the store and my mother, he told my mother about it in camp. And I remember that time... oh, I didn't know for what reason my mother and father really had an argument, and my mother started crying. I didn't know 'til later on what it was all about, but my mother told me much later that my dad had lost all the proceeds from the store. So, I realized, gee, it must have been really a trauma during that time when they were in camp, they were penniless, and when they went out of camp they're going to be really suffering. Because before that we were, you know, as well-off as most of the Japanese, you know. I was able to go to a private high school and my sister was going to a private high school, and we had whatever we needed, and all of a sudden when camp was over, we would be scratching real hard.

JA: It sounds like before camp your dad had sort of achieved what some people call "The American Dream."

FK: Well, we were plugging away at it and everything wasn't hunky-dory, but there was possibilities of me going to get a better education, and my sister also, and were pursuing, like everybody else, the "American Dream," but it wasn't to be. But, you have to really give the credits to the Issei, the parents. They really were strong people.

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