Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Roy Murakami Interview
Narrator: Roy Murakami
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: North Hollywood, California
Date: January 8, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-mroy_3-01

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

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is an oral history for the Manzanar National Historic Site. This morning we're talking with Roy Murakami. Roy lives at 11607 Arminta Street.

RM: Arminta, yeah.

RP: Arminta. I want to, I want to pronounce it like Japanese.

RM: I'm English. [Laughs]

RP: North Hollywood, California. The date, the date of our interview is January 8, 2009. Kirk Peterson is manning the video controls and I'm Richard Potashin conducting the interview. And we'll be talking with Roy today about his father's experiences in judo as well as nursery work here in southern California. And also of course Roy's stories about being an internee at the Manzanar Relocation Center during World War II. Our interview will be archived in the site library. And Roy, do I have permission to go ahead and continue?

RM: Yeah.

RP: All right. Thank you so much. It's a pleasure and honor and always entertaining to talk to you so... tell us, first of all, your birth date.

RM: My birthday is January 15, 1931.

RP: And you were born in Los Angeles?

RM: Yeah, it was a Japanese hospital, old Japanese hospital there.

RP: Where was that located?

RM: It's on First Street. I don't remember that. I born there so I don't... then I left, lived, took me back home, which was North Hollywood.

RP: So you were living in...

RM: So I stayed in North Hollywood. Yeah, it's Universal Studios now, below the Universal Studios line on Cahuenga. And our nursery was across the street on Cahuenga.

RP: Just across the street?

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: Tell us what was your given name at birth?

RM: Shuichi Murakami.

RP: I'm gonna ask you to spell that again.

RM: S-H-I, I mean, S-H-U-I-C-H-I.

RP: Okay, I was just checking to see that you did that right.

RM: [Laughs]

RP: And did you have other brothers and sisters, Roy?

RM: I had one brother. I still have one brother, name is George.

RP: George?

RM: Yeah.

RP: Does he have a Japanese name, too?

RM: Kiyoshi.

RP: Kiyoshi? K...

RM: I-Y-O-S-H-I.

RP: Okay.

RM: Okay.

RP: Does he live in the valley here, too?

RM: Right next door.

RP: Right next door?

RM: [Nods]

RP: Oh. That's neat. Is he older or younger than you?

RM: Younger.

RP: Younger. By how many years?

RM: Not quite two. Eighteen months, I would think.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

RP: Let's talk about your dad. First of all give us his, his name.

RM: Sego, or Segiro Murakami.

RP: Can you spell his first and last name?

RM: First name is S-E-G-O. That's, he made it, he made it legal so they would call him... Segiro is S-E-G-O-R--

RP: O?

RM: -O.

KP: S-E-G-I-R-O.

RM: I-R-O. I'm forgetting. But he uses Segiro Murakami. Sego.

RP: Sego.

RM: They call him, around the valley they knew him by Sego.

RP: And where did your father, where was he born in Japan and grow up?

RM: Wakayama-ken. That's near Osaka, out in the boondocks of Osaka.

RP: That's right on the coast, isn't it?

RM: Yeah, on the coast.

RP: And he... can you tell us a little bit about his family? Did he have other brothers and sisters?

RM: He had one older brother and two sisters. They're all passed away now.

RP: And they all stayed in Japan?

RM: Yeah, uh-huh.

RP: Never came to America?

RM: No, no. In those days the second one, boy, didn't inherit anything. So my grandpa called him over to get to work for him, see. He did a lot of things.

RP: Yeah, your grandfather was the first one to come --

RM: Yeah.

RP: -- to the United States.

RM: It was, went back from Canada.

RP: He went from Canada?

RM: Yeah.

RP: Oh.

RM: Loaf of bread, two loaves of bread and tried to run down... as we know, he was in Reno 1905 during the Russo-Japanese war. And he won twenty bucks because the guy told him that the Russians were too strong for Japan navy. And he got it because they sunk the Russian fleet.

RP: This was in Reno?

RM: Reno, yeah. He was bar... he was doing, working around the bar.

RP: So he'd gamble?

RM: Restaurant, yeah. No, he didn't gamble that much.

KP: Washing dishes I think.

RP: Huh. But he bet on the Japanese navy?

RM: Yeah he says... his name was Jo. They called him Jo at that time. He said, "Jo, I think Japan is gonna lose the war." And he says, "No, they isn't gonna lose the war." He says, "I bet you twenty dollars gold that he wouldn't, they wouldn't do it." And they bet it and he got the money.

RP: What was his Japanese name, do you know?

RM: I don't know of that. Jo is, I think Jo is the short name. My second son name is named Jo, Japanese, J-O. So that must, I think that's the one. It's in, it's in the history but I don't what it looks like.

RP: Did your father tell you about your grandfather? What kind of...

RM: No. Because he was gone and he passed away when he went back to Japan. He got influenza or something and then died.

RP: So he, he spent some time in Reno and then he moved down to Los Angeles?

RM: Yeah.

RP: And what did he do when he got down here?

RM: Oh, did a lot of odd things and then he started the nursery. And before 1919, because when 1919 came he... that's when he went back. No -- that's when he sold to my father, the nursery. And my father became...

RP: Uh-huh.

RM: He had done other things when schoolboy.

RP: There's a mention in this book about your grandfather immigrating to the United States as a result of an unsuccessful timber harvest in Japan.

RM: Yeah, probably. Mountains, there were mountains up there. And they, they do, still doing now. They're re-plants up there. Very good re-plants. I remember they had, we had to send money. My father had to send a little money, $15 or $75 every month, to send back to Japan. So that they could have you know. So they did pretty good, I guess.

RP: Helped them out.

RM: Yeah.

RP: Uh-huh. So, your grandfather started this nursery in Van Nuys?

RM: Van Nuys.

RP: Uh-huh.

RM: Tyrone Street.

RP: Tyrone Street.

RM: And then he sold to my father in 1919. My father took it over. Then he was doing it and then he got married in '30. That's when he moved to North Hollywood on Cahuenga Boulevard. And they used to call it Golden Nursery.

RP: Oh, it was called Golden Nursery, okay.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

RP: Your father, yeah, was here about two years and then your grandfather left. Did your father attend high school?

RM: Yeah, he went a couple years. I think he's eleventh grade. He finished eleventh grade. He used to like to play football. Them days were all pull down stuff, you know. None, no padding or anything like that. [Laughs] But he always remembered that.

RP: B-class football?

RM: Yeah. He went to... he got to know Howard Jones from SC and he was always a SC fan from then on.

RP: That was his idol?

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: Hmm. So did your father begin his judo career in Japan or...

RM: No, here.

RP: He started training here?

RM: Yeah, training. I mean he did a little bit, but mostly here. Training in the Rafu Dojo. Rafu Dojo is the downtown, first downtown dojo, school.

RP: Roy, maybe you could give us just a brief background of how judo began in America. Maybe just how judo was created. It started from another martial art, didn't it?

RM: A long time ago it was... Kano Sensei was the president and he was very thin, and he started doing martial arts. He did first karate type things, you know. And he learned, they call it, jujitsu. And the jujitsu, he went to five or six different schools and learned the different phases of that martial art, jujitsu. Then he thought about it and he developed judo, which would be less lethal and more sports type. And then he started teaching that. And he started in, I think it was 1882 or something like that. I don't remember the exact dates. But he started in an old Buddhist temple. The monks gave him a place so they, they started there and he went out. And then they had a competition between the police that was doing jujitsu type and the Korokan, which is the school of Kano Sensei. And he had 'em, they had teams, both teams played each other. And I think judo won by two points, I think it was. Then that became the national sport then for the policemen.

RP: And you mentioned that Professor Kano was a thin, frail man.

RM: Yeah. He's very small.

RP: And he... I seem to recall he also was being bullied, too, wasn't he, in that --

RM: Yeah. That's right. That's why he wanted, they took... it became Korokan and then they won the judo contest and it became, oh, what is it? Minister of Education. So you see sometimes he's in a formal uniform with Japanese medals and stuff like that. But it was not military. He was given that for the administration of education.

RP: So judo took in more of the mental and the spiritual aspects of the body and mind?

RM: Yeah, well, it was more sportsman like, too. They wouldn't break arms and legs and things like that. They made it so that it could be used as a sport.

RP: Anybody could use it.

RM: Yeah, in the ring, and not be hurt too much. And, and it came a part... he came over here in '31, '32. And as I understand he tried to put in Olympic then but they wouldn't take it. Because the votes were against it yet.

RM: Yeah, in the ring, and not be hurt too much. And, and it came a part... he came over here in '31, '32. And as I understand, he tried to put in the Olympics then but they wouldn't take it. Because the votes were against it yet. And he went back sort of brokenhearted that they couldn't get it in.

RP: So the first dojo that was established in southern California was the Rafu Dojo...

RM: I believe it is. Rafu was the... then there's lot of other ones that came up. Sawtelle and there used to be this one in west L.A., down toward Orange County. I don't remember it because I can't remember that...

RP: Who was your father's teacher when he first began?

RM: Ito.

RP: Ito?

RM: Ito Sensei.

RP: And he came, he was originally from Japan or was he living in the United States?

RM: Uh-huh. He toured, I believe they put, put a book out of him. But it's, I think he toured the United States and South America, putting on demonstrations and stuff like that. And doing contests like you said before, against the wrestler.

RP: Right.

RM: He was a big man, my father said.

RP: Ito?

RM: Yeah. He was in, here for a while and then he left I think about '29, '30. Anyway, there's a lotta students down there that took over Rafu. And he was one of them and he helped out there.

RP: Your father?

RM: Yeah. There was a lot there. I don't know how many. Because there's, that was what their... judo, I mean not judo, but Japanese machi. You know, a gathering place. First gathering place around.

RP: Oh, the Tokyo Club.

RM: Uh-huh. Yeah. That became, Tokyo Club, Jackson Street. Then it went, then it went across the street where the police station is now.

RP: And the Rafu Dojo began in the basement of a union church?

RM: Yeah, I think so. I don't remember, but something like that. And then it went Tokyo Club because it outgrew itself. And then it went to across the street again where the police station was.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

RP: Can you share that story about the wrestler and Sensei Ito? Do you recall that story about the exhibition that was...

RM: Oh, I don't know. Even if I know exactly what... because I was too young then. But as I understand, he took on a wrestler and he kept throwing him and he kept coming up, throwing him, you know, judo we don't do anything harmful to this person. But the last time he got mad and threw him and then he wanted, what we call arm lock and busted his arm. And so couldn't do anything more.

RP: That was...

RM: But the, but that's true of all the ones that came over here from, that went to South America, Europe. They were doing that. Showing their skills over there.

RP: Exhibitions.

RM: Yeah.

RP: That's...

RM: There's articles in the Judo Journal, sometimes it's out in there. And there's gonna be books out, I guess, too. Someone wrote the books. This book is just written recently.

RP: What, what was your father's philosophy in teaching techniques? How did he approach the teaching of judo? Was he low key about it? There, some of these, some of these senseis were very strict and disciplinarian and...

RM: Yeah, well, he wasn't that strict, I wouldn't say. He would try to get the character out of the person more than judo. Because they learned how to bow and remember how the things were in Japan and that, but that... it wasn't that tough. But he would teach the, his students and the students would advance forward. Some of 'em, they won a tournament in '39, I think it was, or '40, that they weren't supposed to win. It was a team tournament and they took a flag there. And then he knew all these other teachers, too, so. The Nanka was very strong. The groups that make up Nanka is very strong. A lot, a lot of 'em are good experts.

RP: This, this Nanka Yudanshakai formed and basically that's the black belt association?

RM: Yeah, uh-huh. And they have meetings and they do tournaments. They put on tournaments and stuff like that. And, but the... as I remember the old teachers, there's not very many left around, but they were very strong characters.

RP: Some, sometimes very quiet but very strong internally?

RM: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

RP: Uh-huh.

RM: They sometimes brought out troubles or something like that, but then pretty well, stuck together pretty well.

RP: There was a story about one of the, one of the teachers who got involved with this gambling club.

RM: Oh.

RP: And, you know, was told you either stop gambling or we're gonna have to drop you out of, out of the dojo.

RM: I don't know about that but...

RP: That's a little early for you, but.

RM: I heard a lot of stories but that type of thing, no.

RP: But your father was very much focused on developing the character of a person through judo.

RM: Yeah, he liked to talk to 'em and try... that's why in long, after a while, I guess in Manzanar he became more like a mediator.

RP: That's, yeah, we're kinda gonna follow that to that point, yeah, in Manzanar.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

RP: Let's talk a little bit about his nursery, the nursery that he had in originally in North Hollywood.

RM: Yeah.

RP: Was it a retail or wholesale nursery?

RM: Retail. Well, he did a little wholesale, too. But it was mostly retail. He had roughly 5 acres in there that he leased, so...

RP: And he grew what type of plants?

RM: All kinds. Bamboos and all the way down to roses.

RP: And he grew all those plants? He...

RM: No, he bought one, they brought 'em in a lotta times now because some people were making a business selling their smaller cans and stuff, you know. That type. But he had a hedge of, I remember, big hedge of tall thin timber bamboo, big thick stuff, back in there and he would chop out a piece every so often and use it for planting.

RP: So he had mother stock that he...

RM: Yeah, more or less all buried around. So the 5 acres were not really all developed into retail. He had some....

RP: Growing area.

RM: Yeah.

RP: And that was all leased land?

RM: Yeah. That's leased.

RP: Did you, did you work at the nursery when you were growing up at all?

RM: No, because I was young, too young. I don't think I even had to do any work 'til later on. When we came out of camp, we started. It was mostly, no, I would say no because I don't think so. We would go there all the time but mostly play. We'd run around trees and stuff, you know.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

RP: Your mother, what was her name?

RM: Haruko.

RP: H-A-R-U-K-O?

RM: U-K-O.

RP: And was Haruko from?

RM: Oxnard, California.

RP: Was she originally from Japan?

RM: No.

RP: She was Nisei?

RM: Nisei. But they took that away from her when she got married to my father.

RP: Because your father was a, was an...

RM: Alien.

RP: Alien. And there was a law against...

RM: She didn't know about it 'til they went to camp.

RP: And then they took their citizenship away.

RM: Yeah. So they both had to take citizenship classes later on.

RP: To, to...

RM: Get their citizenship.

RP: How did, how did your father meet your mother?

RM: Oh, I don't know exactly because, like I say, I wasn't born then yet. But way I think is that he, he started doing, taking judo up there. And the Japanese people around there, they were farmers, mostly farmers, so they started a group up there, Oxnard. And then one of the boys was my uncle, I think it was my uncle Howard. And he, he was doing it and he, and then I guess that's the way he met my mother up there.

RP: Through your uncle?

RM: Yeah.

RM: Yeah. So they got married up there, moved down here. He moved the nursery, too, that time. That was the, the time he moved the nursery from the Van Nuys area, too.

RP: Van Nuys to Cahuenga?

RM: Yeah.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

RP: So he established a dojo in Oxnard. And then he also established one in San Fernando.

RM: Yeah.

RP: And then finally in North Hollywood.

RM: Yeah. He had the Rafu Dojo before, but they only go, those established ones would start to build up and then he would just go out seeing things more than... and, well, after the war he did same thing, where he did the same thing, Oxnard and Rocketdyne, we started one there, but...

RP: Rocketdyne?

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: That was an aeronautic...

RM: Yeah.

RP: Down in Olga Park?

RM: Olga Park, yeah. Well, they, they wanted to start one so we helped start one. And then I took it, I was taking it on and doing it. And it became too much for me but they had a black belt there so we left it to him and I guess they didn't go as well.

RP: Where was the, where was the dojo that your father established in San Fernando?

RM: It was on one of the side streets on San Fernando. I don't know... Keywin, I don't know if it was Keywin or one of those.

RP: Was it a...

RM: It was a house.

RP: Oh, it was a house.

RM: Uh-huh. And they did, just gutted it and put mats in there and bathrooms.

RP: How about the dojo in North Hollywood, where was that?

RM: It was over there in... the white, what the heck was... whites, I don't know what... near Cahuenga and... oh gosh, I don't know the street now. It's near the power line. Used to be near the power lines anyway. And it was a building that started, they started language school there and then we started...

RP: What did you have for mats in those days?

RM: Regular wrestling mats. Regular wrestling mats.

RP: How, how would you attract kids and teenagers to take judo? They're mostly Niseis. Did you have to advertise or...

RM: No, we didn't advertise that much. The people around us that we know all of them.

RP: And they'd send their kids.

RM: They were farmers and they had, they wanted to take up a martial arts sport. So a lot of 'em did. Some of 'em lasted a long time. Some of 'em didn't.

RP: Were there any women that...

RM: No, not at that time.

RP: ...early on? How about, did judo have any appeal at all to other ethnicities...

RM: Yeah.

RP: Like Caucasians or...

RM: Yeah, Hispanics, there was a couple of Mexican Hispanic who were San Fernando. I don't remember his name but he went about to fourth degree black belt. Then we have a little, around sixty or so, we had one who was Roy Lara. He went to third degree black belt. He passed away early though.

RP: So your father would visit these dojos...

RM: Periodically. Once a week or something like that. Them days it was a long drive.

RP: Oxnard, yeah.

RM: You know, by car even.

RP: And he would have, he would have an assistant, assistant teachers at these dojos that were...

RM: At the dojos, yes, they started developing assistants. Some, I think Oxnard developed quite a bit of black belts that took it there. And North Hollywood did, too.

RP: He must have been a busy guy. I mean, he's running a business...

RM: Oh, yeah.

RP: And he's...

RM: Well, he does days, so... but it kept him out of trouble, I guess. [Laughs]

RP: Did he, was he involved in the community other than judo?

RM: Oh, yeah. All the things. They had farmer's association, things like that.

RP: Was there a nursery association, too?

RM: No, not that time.

RP: At that time.

RM: It was... that's California Nurseryman, no, they didn't have that. They started that after, I think. But they had a farmer's association. They would get together and have parties and you know, things like that.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

RP: Speaking of parties, some of the prefectures had their picnics every year. Wakayama, many, many immigrants from Wakayama settled in the Terminal Island area.

RM: Yeah.

RP: And so did your father have connections with...

RM: He knew a few of them down there, yes. In fact, he knew 'em in Manzanar. Mr. Tani, I remember Mr. Tani, nice jovial man.

RP: Tani?

RM: Tani.

RP: T-A-N-I?

RM: He was a very helpful. They, if one of the other guys got in trouble with the dojo or something happened, he was there and tried to fix it.

RP: Do you remember going to any of the picnics for... the prefectural picnics?

RM: No, I don't remember. I was too young. After the war, yes.

RP: They continued after the war?

RM: Yeah, there was local picnics we had, too. The center had a picnic every year.

RP: In San Fernando?

RM: Uh-huh. The same thing. It's racing, food, and things like that, entertainment.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

RP: Well, what do you remember about your early years growing up in North Hollywood?

RM: Oh, I enjoyed it. Only thing is probably not 'til the war started was it really... got down to it. But, we got... we were the only two Japanese going to the school, my brother and myself were the only one. We used to go to the one they call Rio Vista which is the classic, classic school because there was all guys from Tule Lake and those were coming there, too. And got to know those kids there, but that's the only thing I remember.

RP: So there was only two...

RM: Japanese.

RP: Japanese American students.

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: How were you treated by your other classmates?

RM: It was fine. Then they... we got into Boy Scouts. That's the one of the ones that maybe that [inaudible] because Boy Scouts were always, Cub Scouts then. And Cub then, then master said that we have to have a show for the school so we were in a group and Washington and Lincoln, you know? And we had the beards with cotton and stuff like that and do it. And then at the end they started singing anti-war songs. [Laughs]

RP: Like, like what?

RM: "You're a Sap, Mister Jap." [Laughs] And "Praise the Lord, Pass the Ammunition." [Laughs] Well, it didn't hurt us because we were too young to know anything anyway.

RP: Was this after the war broke out?

RM: No. Yeah, after the war, in...

RP: In school.

RM: In school. It was February, I think, because that's when we, when the holidays at that time were Washington and Lincoln's birthdays.

RP: Boy, that's a profound remembrance.

RM: [Laughs] I remember that. My father's nursery was, tenant at one time, had to sell it so they sold it and this guy that bought it had put out a flag, a poster, a big poster that says, "Now owned by white Americans." [Laughs]

RP: This was at, at your father's nursery?

RM: My nursery, yeah. And then they took it, made 'em take it down, though. The, the council made him take it down, so it was only up for a day. But that's... he didn't know any better than that.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

RP: When did you start studying judo?

RM: Eight.

RP: You would have been "Yonien"?

RM: Yonen.

RP: Yonen. That's twelve and under.

RM: Twelve and under.

RP: So how do you start out as a young...

RM: Just learning how to fall and going in the corner and sleeping. [Laughs] You know, you had a lot of big guys and lot of small. It's hard to do it. We did, I think we did one tournament. I only did one tournament before the war.

RP: You did?

RM: Yeah. That was, it was just a tie.

RP: Was that within the dojo?

RM: Uh-huh. No, no. Los Angeles. It was 1940, '40, somewhere in there. I don't know what month that was in. But it was a birthday, Japan's birthday or something like that. They even give you medals. I threw mine away but a lotta guys I know kept it.

RP: There was a, like a grand tournament held every year in Little Tokyo?

RM: No, not... there was a lot of grand tournaments.

RP: Was there a tournament...

RM: Most of the dojo, most of the dojos ran tournaments, unless it was a Nanka, black belts association, they throw big one because there was all these other schools coming together. Then they have visiting dignitaries and athletes. Then that's when you get...

RP: You get elevated?

RM: No.

RP: When do you, when do you progress? I mean, do you have...

RM: Oh, you win, you gotta win in the tournaments, yeah.

RP: You win in the tournaments and then you move up in rank.

RM: Yeah.

RP: So you started as a brown belt?

RM: No. I was a white belt. Then it went to green, purple... they don't have the colors that they, they have now. But anyway we was, I think purple... went to Manzanar we did purple, and the first tournament we had there I won. I got to throw five, I remember.

RP: Five opponents?

RM: Yeah. So that's, they call batsugun, five opponents you get, automatically go up in rank. So I got up into the brown belts. So I started there. I was thirteen, I think. No... twelve, thirteen, about fourteen, I think then.

RP: So you start with learning how to fall.

RM: Yeah.

RP: Then what comes next after that?

RM: Oh, learn how to fall, then next would be learning the throws. How to throw. What's... you gotta pull, what you gotta step in, you know, step around. They call it, we call it at our dojo right now is kuzushi, breaking my balance.

RP: That's right. That was mentioned a number of times.

RM: Yeah. That's the main thing we tried to get into... you have to do breaking balance and go into...

RP: How about the, the leg kicks?

RM: Oh, there's those, yeah, there's all kinds. As now I think there's sixty-nine throws, different kinds. But there's now modified, a lot of modified ones coming out, you know. Throws that's been on for years but they, they have changed it a little bit. They have different way to come in and technique. They have that.

RP: So did, did you want to take, start taking judo or was it something your father kind of...

RM: Then, yeah, I was young so I don't know. I guess I had to be full pushed, really. And then Manzanar, well, it was the thing to do because there's nothing else we could do. We used to walk in the snow. Come through the snow with our wooden geta. You know what the geta is? Well, you used to be on 4, so that's, you had to go past 10, and then the dojo. We'd get pea coats.

RP: You'd wear pea coats?

RM: Yeah.

RP: To go over there.

RM: Yeah. Well, it was cold. In fact the, the senseis, they would let us get on the mat and wear pea coat and sit if you had to sit with the pea coat on because it was cold. We had no heating. And the sliding doors sometimes lets the wind through it. But it was good. Just suffered that way.

RP: I'll never forget the story that one student told me. His name was Isamu Yamashita. And he said that, he said that when they weren't practicing hard enough that one of the senseis -- and I don't know if it was your dad or not -- would open up those, those sliding doors in the wintertime and a blast of cold air would come in and they'd start working really hard.

RM: Keep warm, yeah. I think that was one of the other senseis, yeah. Because my father didn't go every night.

RP: Probably Tashima, huh.

RM: Could be Tashima or one of the other ones. There was a lotta young ones there.

RP: Uh-huh.

RM: Gung ho kind, which is strong..

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: Anything else that you can share with us about your growing up years in North Hollywood? First --

RM: We used to go climb the hills over there, climb into Universal's backyard. You had to go through the cow pastures first and then go up there, look around.

RP: So Universal Studios was already there when you were...

RM: Uh-huh. It was already there. I think it was in the '30s. We used to climb the hills over... up dirt hills on the back end of our house.

RP: Yeah, would you, would you watch them making movies or you saw any of that?

RM: No, no interest in it. We just went to see what, where Buck Rogers' spaceship was in the water that they make the battles of the ships, you know. They got it there. Big old tank. And it was interesting. A lot of fun. Then we'd go walking down the... it didn't have no channel now like it is a cement channel. So we used to walk down that all the way up to Colfax.

RP: Of the Los Angeles river?

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: Oh, before it was concreted.

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: What was that like?

RM: Oh, it's interesting. A lot of vegetation, frogs, and... you catch 'em, you know, let 'em go and stuff like that. It was something, four kids.

KP: Can I ask you something? What year were you born?

RM: '31.

KP: '31. So you wouldn't have remembered. There was a big flood in '33.

RM: '38.

KP: '38. Do you remember that?

RM: Yeah, we didn't go to school. [Laughs]

KP: But the L.A. River must have been...

RM: Yeah, it swept a bunch of houses. In fact, we heard that one of the Japanese families got swept out and we didn't, they didn't ever found 'em. They blocked the block and took out the bridge, weakened the bridge that's there, now at Universal. So you had to go down to Tujunga. There was a bridge there that you could cross, and so that's where we started going to school there. But it was really... took out everything. [Laughs]

RP: So normally, was there a flow of water in the river?

RM: Yeah, a little bit, trickle. Just enough, you know... you could, but fishing, want to fish but I don't know what the heck you could grab, something like that.

RP: Oh, so you tried to fish?

RM: Nah, you know, it's kids playing around.

RP: Uh-huh. It's sort of a place to get lost and...

RM: Yeah, yeah. To forget things. We used to climb up, or go up to Colfax and Burbank where about half a mile from our nursery there's, it was a Japanese farmer there that grew onions. And they had two boys and two girls. The girls were older. But the boys were just about our age. So we used to play with them for a while, go eat lunch with them. And then come, walk back.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: So you, you lived across from the nursery...

RM: Yeah.

RP: ...on Cahuenga. And you were sharing some of, some of the neighbors that you had. You had kind of a diverse little group of...

RM: Oh, yeah.

RP: ...friends and neighbors nearby.

RM: Yeah, next door to me, our house, was Worshans, Worshans, a Jewish family. The mother and father I think was the only one I would see. But they used to have like an old, I guess you call it furnitures and stuff like that. They had old knives, you know, and some, like get rid of something like that, get that. So they had that. And, and then across this side of us we had a bar or eating place. He passed away recent, his family. Then in the other corner there was a drug store, drug store and market. And down the street this way from Worshans there was a chicken, chickens, they used to kill chickens. And they sell 'em from that. And then there was a barbershop and then there was this Henderson's Wrought Iron Works or something like that, that was down the street, too.

RP: Right down the street where you lived, Cahuenga.

RM: Uh-huh, yeah. In fact, when we want to go across the street, we'd call our mother and father, they had, they would be busy... this barber shop guy took us across with our dog. [Laughs] Nice guy.

RP: You said there was a Texan... gentleman from Texas who also lived nearby you?

RM: Oh, that's this bar, cafe, yeah.

RP: Oh, uh-huh. And your, you said that occasionally your mother would sneak on after the war started...

RM: Then they went to the Henderson's. They were, we were planning to go for a couple weeks before, after the war started, they said we were gonna go into camp or something like that. So, but this... when I told you I met George, Willy George, he had this fur company but he was Indian and he had a reservation, part of reservation in Las Vegas. So he wanted us to move there and farm for him. But my father and my uncles went there, mother, and they looked at the place and "No," can't do it because up, up the area right close to it was the Blue Diamond Mine which is some kind of a special kind of material they used in the war.

RP: Gypsum?

RM: No, not Gypsum.

KP: Magnesium.

RP: Oh, magnesium.

RM: Magnesium, yeah.

RP: Okay. Ah, so you would have --

RM: So we never... Father come back and says, "Well, we're going to Manzanar, we have to go to Manzanar." So we went back. But that, they were preparing that.

RP: That was a plan to go to...

KP: And why couldn't they go work for them? Because of the Blue Diamond Mine?

RM: Yeah.

RP: 'Cause it was this --

RM: Well, you know this war, strategic war material --

RP: -- industry.

KP: So they said no Japanese there?

RM: That they, we didn't want to go there. You know, if something happened there they would blame us on it.

RP: Sabotage. Yeah, you would have been the first ones... part of the war hysteria of the time.

RM: Yeah, but maybe I would have been in Vegas. [Laughs]

RP: There would have been a Vegas dojo.

KP: It would have been kind of like your grandfather in Reno.

RM: [Laughs] Yeah.

RP: Yeah. [Laughs] Well, that's really interesting that there was a possibility of you leaving the area and not going to Manzanar. But...

RM: Well, for a while this Willy George was a, he had proposed all these things. He got all these contacts, so...

RP: Uh-huh. So he was trying to help you out.

RM: Yeah, he was a friend of my father's a long time, I guess. In fact, we worked for him after the war for a while.

RP: That's right, you were, you were talking about your father's connections and that there was a gentleman, a gentleman from Tuluca Lake, was it?

RM: Yeah.

RP: Who used to... what did he do?

RM: He invented diesel oil. It's a product they used to use quite a bit in the can, little cans. I guess it was like the ones nowadays you put in, pour it in engine. Something like that anyway.

RP: Was it like Three-in-one oil? Or...

RM: Yeah, something like that. And he, he and my father was long time friends, too. So when we came out, he gave him his mower, first mower, power mower that I seen. It was a Sears, I think it was. And he gave him some tools and he said, "Sego, you go out and be a gardener for a while." He says, "here." And we did gardening. He got this old truck from the guy that lived next door, Kassie, was the one who was the bar. He had a little old truck that he didn't need. It was a two, '31, cut down, did it, put a bed in it. And they would use that for two, two years.

RP: Two years?

RM: Yeah. We used to go up all over the place.

RP: We'll talk about that in a little bit.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: I want to go back to before the war began. And, let's see, can you tell us a little bit about, if you can recall it, the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed?

RM: Oh, yeah.

RP: And what, I know you were really young. If you had a reaction, share it with us. Mostly I'm interested in your parents and how they responded.

RM: Yeah, well, they were... I was sick, like now. And I went out and we had a building put up about a year before and it had a kitchen in it and a couch and stuff like that. So they put me on the couch, set me on the couch and I listened to the radio. And that's when I heard about it. Pearl Harbor was bombed. I didn't know where the hell Pearl Harbor was, you know, where it was. They say Japanese are doing the bombing. They bombed. So I told my father right away. And he, he shook his head, you know. Said, [inaudible].

RP: And he was sending money back to his family?

RM: Yeah, we had to send... keep them up there in the rice business and then that, they had this mountain, like I said, they were timber, like replanting timber. Then they, I guess they did pretty good on that. They had, nine, ten kids, cousins back there, that family.

KP: When did your grandfather return to Japan?

RM: Near...

RP: 1919?

RM: I think '30, '30 or '29, somewhere around there. He, he passed away right on the boat going back to... they stopped in Australia and he had got a cold or something, flu.

RP: And he died?

RM: Yeah.

RP: He never got back to Japan?

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: Huh. Did your father ever go back before the war to Japan?

RM: No.

RP: No.

RM: Well, he was the same... you know, it was Depression.

RP: Right.

RM: So he couldn't make money. In fact, my mother got him out of the Depression.

RP: Your mother did?

RM: Yeah. When they got married then he had, I think it was $5,000 or something in debt so he and my mother worked on it and got him out. Got him out from debt.

RP: Really? She had...

RM: She had some business learning.

RP: Oh, she did. So she helped business...

RM: She run a pool hall. [Laughs] Six...

KP: I thought it was an ice cream parlor.

RM: Ice cream parlor and pool hall.

RP: Where?

RM: Oxnard.

RP: In Oxnard?

RM: When she was a kid. She had one table, that's all they had.

RP: Really?

RM: Yeah, and she used to make money off that. She bought her first Packard, you know, Packard, the back end Packard? That one she bought it and my uncle took it away, rode around. [Laughs]

RP: Oh. So that's where she picked up her business savvy.

RM: Yeah.

RP: And so she...

RM: She's very business-like.

RP: So she helped your dad out of debt with that experience.

RM: Yeah. Well, working there helps, too.

RP: He helped, she helped with the books and the accounting, that type of thing?

RM: Yeah. That's...

RP: Huh, wow.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

RP: Well, do you recall, do you recall after December 7th, you know, the community people, anybody who was sort of high up in the community was being rounded up by the FBI?

RM: Oh, there was a few.

RP: judo people?

RM: No, school. School, Japanese school or something like that. They were probably, you call them head of the council or something like that. That kind of place. There's a few of 'em. Not very many because the schoolteachers were coming in from... or maybe some of the schoolteachers, too.

RP: But usually it was just any, any type of connection with Japan ...

RM: Japan.

RP: ...or Japanese culture.

RM: Yeah.

RP: There was some judo instructors that were called away.

RM: Oh yeah, yeah.

RP: Yeah, so what, how did your dad escape?

RM: Well, like I said, all I understand is that he had a friend in the FBI. And vouched for him and so I've been trying to get the records from the FBI, you know, I don't know how to get 'em so I've been lookin' around. But, that's where he got it, I think. He was, he was doing it, a friend with him so he did... a longtime friend, he says, "Sego, don't worry. I'll take, take care of it."

RP: Was this FBI person a judoist possibly?

RM: No, no. He was an elderly guy.

RP: An elderly guy.

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: Were there any LAPD officers that were taking judo before the war?

RM: Yeah. Sergil.

RP: And Sergil, was he involved with any of your father's dojos or was he...

RM: Yeah, he was coming to our dojo, North Hollywood dojo.

RP: There was another gentleman that was mentioned in this book. His name was George Tate, that was also a police officer...

RM: I don't remember.

RP: With Sergil, when he was involved with another dojo I think down in the south, south L.A. area.

RM: Oh, could be.

RP: Uh-huh. So, so the relationship between Sergil and your dad started before the war?

RM: Yeah, he was teaching.

RP: He was a teacher, too?

RM: No, no, he taught Sergil.

RP: Oh, he taught Sergil, your father...

RM: Stars, starter. He, he used to be funny. He would come in, he would stand straight. He's, was over six foot two or something like that. And he would bow a regular bow, you know. "Hello, Sensei." Caucasian, you know? He respected. He shows respect. He always did that. I remember for him. He was a good guy.

RP: Yeah, we'll talk about him a little bit later.

RM: Yeah.

RP: Especially at Manzanar.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

RP: But, but you, you had a shortwave radio that was...

RM: They weren't regular radios at that time. So it was, there was a shortwave, part of it they take out. Most all radios at that time had the shortwave.

RP: So you had to turn that in to the police department or...

RM: No.

RP: What did you do with it?

RM: Turned it on... yeah, we turned it in. That's right. They took it and turned it in.

KP: Confiscated it.

RP: Did the FBI come to your house?

RM: I don't remember that part. That might have been. They did come to Manzanar once, I know.

RP: They did?

RM: Yeah.

RP: They talked to your dad or...

RM: No, they want to talk him. And showed a picture and says, "I want, we want to see this man." But that time Ralph Merritt, P. Merritt, says, "No, you can't take him." Because he's, he's the one doing the thing here, doing things.

RP: Who was that man? Was that your...

RM: Ralph P. Merritt.

RP: No, the gentleman that...

RM: Oh, I don't know. He was the FBI or something like that.

RP: But they wanted to take...

RM: See him and take him I guess or something like that. It's later. Maybe they missed him. I don't know. [Laughs]

KP: Who, who did they want to take? Your father or...

RM: Yeah.

KP: Why, do you have any idea?

RM: Well, because the judo.

KP: Oh, because as an instructor...

RM: Yeah.

RP: As an instructor. Is that correct or...

RM: What?

RP: We asked you why they wanted to take him.

RM: Train, no, no. It was, see he was, the connections to Japan again.

RP: Oh, so...

RM: And like the culture of Japan is, was the main idea they were doing... if you have culture of Japan...

RP: So he was under suspicion for nothing.

RM: Yeah, yeah. They just wanted to...

RP: They wanted to question him or maybe take him away.

KP: So he escaped the FBI out of camp. And when he got into camp they would try to find him.

RP: Wow.

RM: He was lucky. He says so.

RP: Uh-huh. Do you think maybe he has connections with Sergil and LAPD might have helped him escape?

RM: No, Sergil maybe. But they, it was his friend, FBI guy, I don't remember his name but...

RP: We'll have to find out who that is.

RM: And another one. There was another one, person that I don't know how, how what, how it influenced he had with the... gee, I don't remember his name now. But when they went to the check in at Van Nuys, Van Nuys police department, take the stuff in and stuff, and there was a, he's the Japanese-born citizen. I mean, he was adopted by a Caucasian family. I forget. He did, did a lot of that... But I don't remember his name. I keep forgetting.

RP: Uh-huh.

RM: Maybe the JACL or something like that will know about it.

RP: Might have been, yeah. Uh-huh. There was an interesting story in this book about your father, that when Caucasian students came to his nursery, that they, they would bow to him because he was again a sensei. Just like they would in the dojo.

RM: Uh-huh, yeah.

RP: [Laughs] And that story about Sergil bowing...

RM: Yeah.

RP: ...kind of made me think of that. What do you recall about the time before you went to camp and what was, what was the feeling like in your family when you heard that you would have to go to camp?

RM: Oh, we was all scared, I guess. Because nothing else like that ever happened to us. And this was a time when everybody got, had to get together, go. So they gave us a day. Down in Burbank... I think it was Olive Street, one of those, we all got together and they took us on the buses.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

RP: Tell us what you... you mentioned that your father sold his nursery?

RM: He sold the top part of it. He didn't... he leased it. So he didn't lease, he didn't renew the lease.

RP: I see. Did he sell his nursery stock, too?

RM: Yeah, everything.

RP: Everything to this other gentleman who put up the sign?

RM: Yeah, yeah. That's where he... he made quite a bit. He sold it, I understand he sold it to the airport, Lockheed, as camouflage.

RP: He sold the plants.

RM: Trees, plants.

RP: Oh, and they used it as camouflage at Lockheed?

RM: Well, that's what I understand.

RP: That's the story. Your house was rented?

RM: Yeah.

RP: So...

RM: It was leased, I guess it was.

RP: Uh-huh. Did you have much property that you had to--

RM: No, I just --

RP: -- personal affects and things.

RM: -- let 'em all... just probably like everybody else.

RP: Did anybody come to help you or support you? Caucasians, you know, who wanted to store things that...

RM: Well, the neighbors did, but that's about it.

RP: Uh-huh.

RM: Because everybody else, the Japanese were busy doing their own.

RP: Doing their own thing so there was no, there was no Buddhist temple or church to store items in the North Hollywood area?

RM: No. Jack Sergil stored some things. And also Doctor Sakaguchi's family, they had a house over there on... that was on, near Sherman Way and Sattuck Way.

RP: They had a house that they stored...

RM: It was a big building on, about this big here. And it was just for storage. So they had it chuck full in there I think.

RP: Japanese families were bringing their...

RM: Would put in there whatever... their family and some others.

RP: Uh-huh.

RM: That's the only one I know of.

RP: Did you bring items over there, too?

RM: No, I don't think so. We had just a few things.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

RP: This is a tape two of a continuing interview with Roy Murakami. Roy, we were talking about one of the families that lived here in the North Hollywood area, the Sakaguchis. And you said that there were four sons in the family that took judo?

RM: Well, four of 'em did. There's more than that but I think it was, there's Chibos... maybe Sanbo didn't do it. I don't know if Sanbo did it. Chibo, Sanbo, Bo, Bo didn't... Bo's the one, the youngest one who didn't do it. But Chibo, their oldest one, he was, he went into the army, dentist. And Sanbo went to camp but he went out and became a doctor. And he helped out in the camp, too, hospital there. Very good. And there was another one, Obo. Obo passed away in camp, got cancer.

RP: I think, yes, he got cancer and died.

RM: -- cancer. Yeah. He was good. Dentist, too.

RP: Uh-huh. So they were, they were teenagers or even older at the time you were taking judo.

RM: Yeah, right.

RP: Uh-huh. So what was the next level up from, yonen?

RM: Yonen? Shonen.

RP: Shonen.

RM: Shonen is thirteen and above to seventeen, sixteen.

RP: Uh-huh. So, what happened to the dojos? They were all disbanded? People left...

RM: Yeah, some of 'em. Or some of 'em that, that somebody owned they, they just kept it. And some they were kept going, like Seinan I think it was kept going with Sergil.

RP: Sergil was...

RM: Teach there.

RP: Uh-huh.

RM: That's when the group comes up.

RP: Oh. So he was asked to take over the dojos. The "Seinen" dojo?

RM: Seinan.

RP: Seinan. Where was that located?

RM: Thirty-sixth Place, around there.

RP: In southern, south Los Angeles?

RM: Yeah, it's, it's near, I guess it's near SC or around there.

KP: So what would Sergil's level been to take over the dojo? Was he a black belt?

RM: He was a second black at that time, I think.

RP: Second dan? And so, so he had a pretty good following of Caucasian students in that --

RM: A little yeah.

RP: -- a few.

RM: It just started so.

RP: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

RP: So, who drove you to, to the train station in Burbank? Do you remember?

RM: I don't remember. One of 'em. I think Kassie. That's the guy that...

RP: The bar guy?

RM: Yeah. Bar and cafe.

RP: So you boarded the train in Burbank. And were you the only family there? Do you remember...

RM: Oh no. All of 'em.

RP: The whole community?

RM: Yeah. North Hollywood... all of North Hollywood, I think. Glendale, some of 'em. Calunga Park, some of 'em, too.

RP: The valley.

RM: Yeah.

RP: Do you remember that scene at all in your mind?

RM: Oh, yeah. Rushing around. Bags, you could only take one bag with you, there's one suitcase per person. And bedding. It was hell. When you're young, you know, it's worse yet. Of course, being war it's not bad because being young, you don't understand most of it.

RP: How about your father? Did he express any emotions or feelings about leaving his home?

RM: Well, he did but he, I think he kept most of it to himself. And then my mother know about it. They stayed... we didn't know where we were gonna go and how long we were gonna stay. Get on a... I think it was a bus, yeah. I think it was buses we took up.

RP: You took buses to Manzanar?

RM: In the Mojave Desert they had a pit stop. All the gals rushing to the bushes. They were the first and then the guys. Yeah.

KP: Can we backtrack just a minute to earlier you said that the school you went to, you were like, you and your brother were like the only two Caucasians [means Japanese], and you said you know, before the war it wasn't an issue but after the war things changed. How did they change?

RM: Well, the... some of 'em changed. I guess it was the parents that changed. You know.

KP: And how did you see that or how did that affect you at school?

RM: Well, that's when we start singing the...

RP: Singing those songs. There was no attempt by the teachers to stop that or...

RM: No. It was this one guy that wanted to have, show our patriotism, I guess.

RP: Did you, did you get him after school and throw him?

RM: [Laughs] No, I was too young.

RP: But it didn't, it didn't... those songs didn't affect you, or did they?

RM: No, they didn't affect me because I didn't know what the hell they were about. They just... it was war songs and that's all I know it took on.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

RP: Most of the, most of the folks from the San Fernando Valley ended up in the Block 16, 17, and 18.

RM: 16, 17, and 18.

RP: Yeah.

RM: 15, 14, too.

RP: But you ended up in Block 4.

RM: Yeah. When we went there, we got off the bus, lined up and got our shots, and they said, "Oh, there's 4. Okay, you got a room over there in 4, Block 4." There's an opening there so they sent us over and that's how we got there. We got there from the other people. And we stayed there. First we went in there, there was our family and then another family and a woman and his, woman and husband, and two bachelors.

RP: In the same room?

RM: Yeah. So we had to put down the stuff 'til they got it fixed up so the, the bachelors would move into an all-bachelor place. And the family, other family would move into something else, too.

RP: So there were how many of you who went to camp, your family?

RM: Just our family and then, well, my other, my other aunt and uncles went but they went down Poston, Arizona and through there.

RP: That was the family from Oxnard.

RM: Yeah. My aunt, the youngest aunt, went to Colorado. She was, got married that time.

RP: She went out of camp or before camp?

RM: Before camp. Got married and they...

RP: She got married and...

RM: They pushed 'em over.

RP: They, they moved out before they, they got sent to camp?

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: Hm.

RM: So we'd, we were all spread out.

RP: So, you got there in April or May, you arrived in Manzanar...

RM: Yeah, I think April.

RP: Oh, uh-huh. And then, you know school didn't start until October.

RM: Later than that I think.

RP: Maybe, yeah.

RM: Because it was about a year before really got a school.

RP: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

RP: So, what were your impressions of the camp and what did you do when you first got there?

RM: Oh, we had duties, I guess. You had to put the straw bed together, stuff the straw in the mattress, you know.

RP: You, you did that?

RM: Yeah, yeah. Fixed that all up. Things like that. Them days there's, there's cracks in the floor. Got to try to put paper down so that it won't grow.

RP: Tin can lids? Do you remember, do you remember taking tin can lids and nailing them...

RM: Yeah, yeah, they did that, too. But then that's not many that can do it. That's for those pine holes. But it's... I tell everybody that, hey, it was pretty good for us. Because I was young. I didn't know nothing about it.

RP: Your father, did he ever try to explain what was happening to you?

RM: No, we really understood him, though. He.. first thing he got over there he says... started going through the things and I guess he got hired as an assistant superintendent.

RP: Of what?

RM: Oh, farmers, rain crew, kitchen... what the heck was that other one? Oh, carpenters and garbage crews, waste, you know, waste, and what was the other one? Oh, some other one. He got a whole bunch of 'em.

RP: So he was in charge of...

RM: Yeah, they gave him a job that way.

RP: So he had a lot of responsibility.

RM: Yeah. He had the only car. They gave him old Plymouth. And he's, he was on twenty-four hour duty. So they gave him a car. He was the only one who had twenty-four hour duty.

RP: And a car all the time.

RM: Parked inside there.

RP: Right by the barrack or...

RM: Yeah. So, yeah.

RP: Did you ever drive around with him?

RM: No. He wouldn't let anybody drive with him. My mother wanted to go to the hospital once, there was some dentist or something like that, he says, "No, I can't do it. This is an official car." [Laughs] He was very strict on that kind of thought.

RP: Huh, very strict. Uh-huh.

RM: But he had fun. I guess it was fun.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

RP: Now, how soon after you got to camp did he start working on re-establishing, or establishing a judo dojo at Manzanar?

RM: Oh, I guess right away because the guys were there. Just, they just started settling down. And that's when they started settling down... and then they got the idea I guess.

RP: First thing they had there from what I've heard was a large canvas stretched over sawdust or something like that?

RM: Yeah.

RP: And did...

RM: That was near the tree.

RP: Near Block 10?

RM: Yeah, above, between 10 and 11.

RP: Uh-huh.

RM: I think later it came, became kendo. I'm not sure of that.

RP: Oh. Do you remember that kendo area?

RM: No, I don't.

RP: No?

RM: Only I ever heard about it that there was a ghost. [Laughs]

RP: What's... tell us about that.

RM: Indian ghost. Some guys found, they say if you walk by there some nights you see the guy that is an Indian ghost.

RP: Around the kendo area?

RM: [Nods] I guess that was a battlefield one time.

RP: Uh-huh, there was this... yeah, there were some.

RM: Because a lot of arrowheads and stuff there.

RP: You found arrowheads there?

RM: Yeah, once in a while wind blows it up, the dust would come out and be...

KP: Can I ask a question? So your dad is working at establishing a dojo there. Was that with the approval of the camp at that time?

RM: Yeah.

KP: Were they, were they okay with that idea?

RM: Yeah, yeah.

KP: Were they? Okay.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

RM: We had a couple directors there that were skinny. But when Ralph P. Merritt come, he really helped the camp a lot. Yeah. Guys couldn't get, you know, we couldn't get milk if you were six year old or older. Only the six years below get the milk. So we have to drink coffee or chocolate. If you get chocolate they... but didn't have with that. And they had all that kind of stuff. There's a lot of dirt under the table over there, too, I think.

RP: What's that?

RM: Dirt under the table. I think there was black marketing and...

RP: Yeah, there, there was a number of people talked about, you know, the administration black marketing meat or sugar.

RM: Yeah, right, and then there's a lot of that around. I heard about it...

RP: You heard about it?

RM: Yeah, but I didn't know where.

RP: Since your father was so, he was connected, he was you say a supervisor or administrator, he had very close ties with the administration. Was he, there was a group, you know, at Manzanar that didn't care for the administration. They were, you know, very bitter and resentful about being in camp.

RM: Oh, yeah. There's two, two or three groups.

RP: Right. And you know, the common term for guys like your dad was "inu."

RM: Right, inu.

RP: Yeah, but he was a judo instructor so that he...

RM: No, well, they tried to pin him down one time. We had 'em, outside the barrack, two of 'em. They were, mostly they were what they called kibei. You know, educated in Japan. And they go straggle in with the six you know and talk to my father about it. But my father, I guess, settled it up for them so they didn't do anything. But, one thing, our block was ready to pounce on 'em if they did anything to him. [Laughs] You know the rock in the sock? That kind of stuff. So it was...

RP: They were ready to come to his defense?

RM: Yeah, yeah. There was that kind of stuff, but not much.

RP: But yeah, so he was approached.

RM: Yeah, he wasn't scared of it, you know.

RP: Uh-huh.

RM: But what started it was, it was the inu, they was all kind of inus, though.

RP: Do you remember anything about the Manzanar "riot" or --

RM: Yeah.

RP: -- the incident.

RM: Two, two of 'em are hit, shot. One was shot in the back and he passed away. And then his uncle got shot in the arm... hip.

RP: Your...

RM: No, not mine. It was Kono, Kono I think it was. It was a long time ago.

RP: Oh, okay. Uh-huh. Where were you that night? Do you recall?

RM: Oh, I was in my room. My father went down to there because there was talking, rioting a little bit. So he went down there and he told me later on that they were rioting and talking big and stuff like that, other guys were... so it got too cold so he went in with some people into the kitchen, one kitchen. And it was warm there so they went in and soon as they went inside, bam, bam, bam. A lieutenant or somebody let go with a Thompson. What they did is probably is that they threw tear gas and then when the riot started they go, "Wah" you know. Got excited. And then that, that just shook this guy up and he let go with a Thompson.

RP: That's what you heard?

RM: Yeah.

RP: Uh-huh. But your father was in the mess hall?

RM: Mess hall.

RP: So did he...

RM: He must have been, he would have been shot if he was in front.

RP: Did he make... so was he trying to sort of mediate the situation or...

RM: Yeah, he had, they made a peace corps, it was like a peace corps.

RP: But that was after the riot.

RM: Yeah.

RP: But during the riot was he also...

RM: No, it was a local stuff so it wasn't, it was supposed to be that way.

RP: So he wasn't mediating before the first shots fired?

RM: He knew about it but there wasn't nobody really... but there was some hotheads that got a group up and started... that's what happened, I guess.

RP: Some of it was about those shortages of food, too.

RM: Probably that and then there's a guy that was...

RP: Guy got beat up?

RM: Yeah, they took them to Lone Pine jail instead of being left in the local jail.

RP: Uh-huh. And then they brought him back. That was Harry Ueno.

RM: Yeah.

RP: They put him in the jail and people wanted him released.

RM: So, that's, that's probably it. But everybody was ready to have a big one if they had it.

RP: You mean a riot?

RM: Oh, yeah. Rock in the sock. [Laughs] Sticks, whatever they had. But they cooled it down.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

RM: They used to have half-tracks with the machine gun on top, you know, traveling around the...

RP: Oh, half-tracks. You mean like a...

RM: Yeah.

RP: Okay. With machine guns?

RM: Yeah.

RP: Was this after the riot, or...

RM: Yeah. They wasn't there before.

RP: There were a number of soldiers that were patrolling the camp.

KP: So, the half-tracks weren't there until after the riot?

RM: After.

RP: They came in after?

RM: Yeah. They got there after, I think. We got to see 'em during the day. They would travel around.

KP: So what did you, what did you think of that?

RM: Nobody said anything. They got guns, we ain't got guns. [Laughs]

RP: Well, you got a holiday, too, because they closed down the schools for a couple weeks at least. But to get back to your, back to the dojo, you started with this humble little setup of sawdust-covered canvas platform. And then how, how was this, this newer building financed and funded? I mean who, where --

RM: Donations.

RP: From where?

RM: All over. All over people, from the people.

RP: From the camp?

RM: Yes. I think that when they sold the building, as I understood, it was about $600 for the building, and they put it in the, one of the associations. I'm not sure which one. Nanka or I'm not sure. It was Nanka or so what.

RP: Uh-huh. Was there any help from the dojos outside that were still operating in Los Angeles?

RM: No. They didn't know nothing about it.

RP: They came, the money came from the people in the camp?

RM: Yeah.

RP: judo enthusiasts and...

RM: Yeah, well, they would, it was a way of living at that time. judo, farming guys, and flower growers, anybody, it was a sport then.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

RP: Who was the architect or the person who actually designed the dojo building?

RM: You know, I don't know. He's from Japan. I saw, I know he's in the picture when the building is built. He's in that picture. But I can't remember his name.

RP: He was a carpenter?

RM: Carpenter, master carpenter.

RP: In the camp?

RM: Yeah.

RP: He designed the structure?

RM: Structure and he put it up, helped put it up. And then it used to be engineers from the army would come and look at it because they were amazed at how in the hell they put this roof on and then there's no posts in there, in the middle, you know. It's all on the outside. And he didn't use any nails like that. So...

KP: Do you know if he built anything else in camp?

RM: I don't know. He might have. He was a carpenter so he could have done a lot. He's probably gone now.

RP So your father assumed the role as, as the head sensei, head instructor of the judo...

RM: Yeah, because he had a rank, too.

RP: What was his rank at that time?

RM: At that time, fifth.

RP: Fifth degree black belt.

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: And who are his assistant instructors?

RM: Yeah, Tashima, Shig Tashima. I think he was fourth degree. And what the heck was his name? I can't remember them always. Takamatsu. Takamatsu is, was about fourth.

RP: And then later on another gentleman showed up who had been interned. Nagano?

RM: Nagano.

RP: Do you, you know you had some relationships with these guys. I mean, you knew them, didn't you?

RM: Yeah.

RP: Can you kind of share a little bit about each one of those men? A personality or...

RM: Ruled fairly. They did the bidding, is whoever was wrong, they were ready to, they helped out quite a bit. It's like establishing a peace committee. They were head of that. And the rest of them were all judo white, black belts too.

RP: Yuudansha?

RM: Yuudansha.

RP: There was, you had quite a few yuudansha in the, at the dojo.

RM: There were over a hundred.

RP: A hundred?

RM: Uh-huh. Then there's over three hundred students, I think.

RP: And so yuudansha would have their own exhibitions.

RM: Uh-uh.

RP: No?

RM: They all worked together.

RP: Oh, I mean, yeah, there would be a black belt tournament...

RM: Yeah, they would have fights together, I mean, you know, battle together. Black belt, brown belt, all of the way down.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

KP: Can I backtrack just a little bit? After the riot, I know they closed down the schools. Did they close down the judo dojo as well? Or, do you remember?

RM: No, that dojo was after, I think.

KP: But I mean...

RP: They never stopped the dojo. It was always allowed to continue. Never a threat to...

RM: No, Ralph, Ralph P. Merritt was the boss so...

RP: He might have stood up for...

RM: Yeah, he stood up for I think most Japanese stuff.

RP: 'Cause he had been in Japan and that was always the...

RM: So...

RP: Hm.

RM: He knew about it.

RP: Uh-huh. So there were, there were some times early on in the camp where the judo exhibitions, or the tournaments, actually out drew the, the baseball competitions.

RM: Oh yeah.

RP: I mean, that's how popular judo got. So there was quite a few young Nisei boys, too, that came?

RM: They, it was encircling the whole open area where you could see.

RP: Uh-huh. That's where the spectators would...

RM: They would slide the door back and that whole... and then that was open, wide open.

RP: Were tickets sold to these...

RM: No, no.

RP: Anybody could come.

RM: Anybody could come see.

RP: Uh-huh. How about your uniforms? Tell us how you got your, your gis.

RM: Well, women about the, around the people that did the sewing, stuff like that, they made 'em out of the straw, straw mattresses.

RP: Oh, the canvas?

RM: Uh-huh. Looks good. I mean, if you've seen one now you couldn't just spot, tell the difference. They got the little stitches in it and everything.

RP: They did the belts and everything?

RM: Everything, yeah.

RP: You don't happen to have one of those?

RM: No, I would, I would have give it to you if I could find one. I don't know where that is now. It's been fifty years now. I guess it's rotted.

RP: That's a great exercise in recycling. Those old mattress covers. Huh. Interesting.

RM: We wondered where it came from. That's what they... they sewed 'em together. I guess they sold 'em too, but it was for the price then you got into a good dojo, I mean, good uniform.

RP: Now, the dojo was built right up against another small building which was the shower area or the...

RM: Office building, office, and shower, and dressing room. Most of them come into the dressing room. Most of 'em come from home so they just walked it.

RP: Walked right into the dojo?

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: But there was a shower area, too?

RM: Yeah.

RP: Uh-huh. And an office? Is that where your father...

RM: Yeah that's, I think that became the peace committee office later on, too.

RP: Yeah.

RM: But that's the office that everybody, they kept records about the throws and I guess people.

RP: Oh, the different ranks and designations and... so the record, there were records kept about that.

RM: So they know that they got it, their records...

RP: Certified. If anybody asks later on after camp, okay here's our, you know, records.

RM: I think they're all gone. I don't know who got 'em.

RP: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

RP: So you, you shared with us a story about spectators watching these exhibitions. What was that like for you? You know you're, what, twelve, thirteen years old?

RM: Oh, it was nothing... we were just trying to win, that's all.

RP: So you would have, in a tournament, you would take on a number of different opponents?

RM: Yeah.

RP: And how much time would you have? Was there a...

RM: Four minutes I think it was at that time.

RP: For a match?

RM: Yeah.

RP: And would there be a number of matches going on at the same time?

RM: Oh yeah, they was usually about... I think that area covered two, two or three matches.

RP: On the, on the...

RM: Inside the, in the middle, yeah.

RP: So you had four minutes to do your thing.

RM: Yeah, throw or...

RP: Was there any such thing as a draw? Was there a draw in judo?

RM: Oh, yeah. There was a draw. Hikiwake.

RP: Were the matches refereed at all?

RM: Yeah.

RP: And who was the referees?

RM: It was the black belts.

RP: Oh, the black belts.

RM: Yeah, ranking ones usually, but there was some younger ones, too. Younger ones probably did the more young students matches and the older ones did the...

RP: So, the judo dojo not only was an outlet for the, for the young men and the older men, but it was also sort of a teaching school, too. Didn't your father and some of the other high degree...

RM: Oh yeah, there's the Takamatsu and Tashima sensei, they did it.

RP: Teaching...

RM: Teaching, because they're higher ranked, too.

RP: Right, but they were, they were teaching the other people to become teachers.

RM: Yeah. [Coughs.]

RP: And, and later a lot of those guys went out and started dojos in other parts of the country.

RM: Yeah, they went out to Chicago, New York, I think Texas, all over. They came, became, most of 'em became judo black belts association. No, not association. Oh, I forget now. Anyway, they're one of the associates or they're in the USJAI.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

RP: Roy, we were, we were discussing the dojo and some of the exhibitions and things that took place there at the Manzanar dojo. One of the more controversial experiences was a visit by Jack Sergil and some of his students --

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: -- up to Manzanar.

RM: That was his, his side. The police.

RP: Can you share with us the story and what was the, quote, "scandal" revolving around Jack's...

RM: Oh, they want, they want the women to come up there, go up there and do practice with the teachers and stuff, teachers and subjects, other subjects.

RP: Japanese males?

RM: Japanese, yeah, so that's where I think most of it was about.

RP: Uh-huh. So he, he brought, he brought some of, some of...

RM: Two or three girls, I mean, women.

RP: Uh-huh. Do you remember that exhibition?

RM: A little bit. I remember a girl, lady... there was one look like, that actress that crashed in the mountains over in Vegas?

RP: Oh, Carol Lombard?

RM: Yeah. Looked like her. Blond hair and everything.

KP: So when did the, or who and when did women start getting involved in judo?

RM: Our, none. There's, at that time they were doing it.

RP: They got involved during the war?

RM: L.A.

RP: Did, did Jack, Sergeant Jack Sergil, did he visit the dojo more than once?

RM: Yeah, I think it was twice. What they used to do is pool their gasoline and come up. That might have been a question, too, why they did that, but...

RP: Now did you hear about this scandal from, in the newspapers while you were still at Manzanar or did Jack tell you about it? How did you find out about it?

RM: I read it and I think from Jack heard some of it, too. But I read about it somewhere.

RP: Yeah, and the Manzanar Free Press had a story or two about it.

RM: Yeah, it could be.

RP: Uh-huh. And I guess it was the Hearst paper in Los Angeles that made it quite a big...

RM: They always say a lotta...

RP: Yeah, they were, they were known for blowing Japanese Americans out of the water. So and eventually he had to --

RM: Resign.

RP: -- resign.

RM: And then he got a job acting, became an actor.

RP: Was he, was he your favorite actor?

RM: Oh no, no. I knew too many at that time.

RP: So, yeah he switched careers rather successfully and he took his judo skills and one of his first students was a famous actor.

RM: He was... I think they were doing a picture, Blood Red Sun. It was propaganda picture about Japan and the police, they had Japanese police, James Cagney was the actor.

RP: And Jack, Jack Sergil was his teacher for a while?

RM: Yeah, but he also appears in the picture. His picture, he's the sergeant or the officer that beats up Cagney and then Cagney I guess it was, killed him or something like that later on.

RP: Oh, so Jack's one of the Japanese police.

RM: Yeah, you see him. He's big in that.

RP: Uh-huh.

KP: A six foot two Japanese policeman.

RM: [Laughs] They got 'em now but I don't know about then.

RP: And, and Jack continued with an acting career.

RM: Yeah.

RP: He was in a number of movies and television series.

RM: Yeah, I think he got into a few pictures. I don't know what else he did. He was a, he did a lot of things in his lifetime, I guess. Did a lot of sports. Savat, the French foot fighting.

RP: Martial art?

RM: Yeah. It's a martial art but it's... they don't have it anymore. I don't think nobody does that anymore.

KP: Right, yeah, it's just, it's fighting with feet.

RM: Yeah.

KP: It's all they can use.

RP: And so Jack did that, too?

RM: Yeah, he was doing that one. And then he was an undertaker. What else was he? I don't remember now what else. He's got a nice wife, he had a nice wife. Took care of him real good.

RP: He always had a very strong relationship with the Japanese, Americans of Japanese culture.

RM: Uh-huh. That's why a lot of people stored things with him.

RP: He could be trusted.

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: So did you, did you have a relationship with him after camp, too?

RM: Oh yeah, he just come out. We used to come in the dojo. And I replaced it a couple times in Burbank. He had, he was gone, so he wanted somebody to just teach, to a practice with some of the students there.

RP: So which, he was running the Burbank dojo at that time, or...

RM: He was... YMCA? I think it was. But he taught there. I went there a couple, two, two weeks I think I went over there, I'm not sure. He had to do something, shooting or something. Some kind of films. So I went over there, so I replaced him for a while.

RP: So did you ever get involved in any judo training for movies at all?

RM: [Shakes head]

RP: No? You missed the boat, huh?

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

RP: Well, let's talk about this peace committee that your father was a major part of. This was after the riot, the camp was in turmoil.

RM: As I understand it, the police department didn't want to work that because of the danger, I guess. So...

RP: Many of them, you know, were considered inu. And they're, the charge was that they were on the death list, too, and during the riot some of them pulled off their bands and uniforms and threw 'em in the garbage can and... so there was no law and order in the camp other than the military police. So your father felt like...

RM: They, they... I guess they asked him.

RP: The administration asked him?

RM: Yeah, I think so. And he got the dojo to, I mean the, some of the students together and started... Takamatsu and Tashima and some other ones, Yamabe.

RP: So, did, did they actually act as a police force inside the camp or just in more subtle...

RM: Subtle... they would go to dances, two or three, I don't know what the number, but they go to dances and they sit around 'til the dance was over. If the trouble started they were there. Other than that, they didn't do anything else.

RP: But they were able to develop a, a very close working relationship with Ralph Merritt?

RM: Yeah, well, I think Ralph Merritt was probably the best director that there was at anything. His articles, his writings and stuff are in UCLA. I'm trying to get those, too. Because they got the Manzanar. But he was good. My father liked him really. He gave my father a letter on onion paper so he could carry it with him. And I don't know where it went.

RP: Do you know what the letter was about?

RM: No, I don't know if it was about his character or not. It was something like, like passport, I guess, I don't know. I saw it once or twice, but after that goes by. Yeah. Things improved quite a bit after that.

RP: Right. The trouble, quote "troublemakers" were sent away and, and so your father and the rest, some of these judoists were also, sort of negotiated a, what they called a Peace of Manzanar.

RM: Yeah, more or less. They would... in fact I have a friend over here in the [inaudible] remembers my father re-negotiating with the cooks in one of the kitchens. They didn't want to work or something. Something happened so he had to go in there and tell 'em let's do this way, that way.

RP: So he, right, so he did some mediation as well.

RM: Yeah. He, he always had that.

RP: Had that ability, leadership, but in a very soft way.

RM: Yeah, he was never hard, never hard.

RP: Which was the way of judo, right?

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: The gentle way?

RM: Soft. That's probably it. But he, he had a lot of stories, a lot of stories about his work, about his car. [Laughs]

RP: Tell us, tell us some more.

RM: Oh, he was the only one let out of camp to go see the dump. They had a dump over there for... so he had to sign out with a, I think it was a private or corporal for Oklahoma. Didn't know how to sign his name so he signed a cross, and he had a headache and so he was riding along and he says, "What's a matter?" He says, "Oh, I drank too much last night. I got a headache." So he says, "Okay, we'll go up to the dump and I'll park the car and you get out and sit under the tree and I'll stand guard for you." Because he didn't want the sergeant to come around and catch him, so. Then he said he had the rifle and was sitting there waiting an hour or so, you know, wasting the time. Yeah, a lot of things like that.

RP: So he, he went out and checked on the farm workers, too? He was...

RM: Oh, no, they had department, but he checked on the department. They had a rake crew.

RP: A rake crew?

RM: Yeah, that's a, that's a interesting thing. There were men over, I would think they were over sixty. So they worked, they'd go around the camp and have a rake and a bucket to take the trash and clean up around it and dump it and keep going like that.

RP: All through the camp.

RM: Keeping it clean.

RP: It was the cleanup crew.

RM: Uh-huh. But these were old men and it was a good job because you could just walk and cleanup you know. And they get paid $16.

RP: The rake crew... was he involved with the oil crews, too?

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: That would distribute the oil to every block.

RM: Uh-huh. Oil crew and... he had a lot of crews underneath him. He had no... just started getting more and was the head of it or helped 'em, that's all he did.

RP: And for, for all that he got $19 a month?

RM: Uh-huh. Oh, and there's a story about that, too. The superintendent got word one day, he says, "They're gonna fire me because I didn't do a right job." And my father said, "Oh, let them fire me. I'd say, I'd take the blame. I only get $19 a month." [Laughs] So, you know, it worked out.

RP: [Laughs] This was the Caucasian superintendent?

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: That's funny.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

RP: Well you, you did a little work in camp too even though you were, you were young. When you were fourteen you worked at the chicken ranch.

RM: Yeah.

RP: Tell us, tell us what you did there?

RM: Mainly mix feed. We used to go out... there was one man, well, he was not young, old, he was about twenty, not quite twenty, I think. Anyway, he would go out and we would go out to the farm and cut some, some alfalfa, bring it back and mix it with grain. I got muscles then because those bags were 120 pounds. So used to did that and it was good. They used to call me "Yangu, Yangu," That means young one. And so, "You go get the lunch." "I don't know how to drive." "You take this car and you go down." So I'd have to get in it and drive.

RP: Oh you drove down to get lunch?

RM: [Nods head.] First time I learned how to drive.

RP: Where would you go? Block 3?

RM: Yeah. Three, kitchen.

RP: They had the best food?

RM: Not necessarily, but it was the closest one and not bad. I think it was... one of the kitchen was pretty good. Ten or something like that was supposed to be really good. It wasn't bad.

RP: Huh, so you were the gopher?

RM: Gopher. Go-fer this, go-fer that.

RP: But then you advanced a little and you ended up feeding the chickens and...

RM: Well no, that's with a, come with the job. When I got nothing to make, I have to go help them clean up the fertilizer, too. And they, they would grow uri, which is a white melon-like, like a cucumber. And Japanese prize it because they make good pickles. So the guys, they would take the fertilizer, throw it out there and water it and then put the seeds down and they would make beautiful... yeah. And they said, "Okay, let's go down to Block 3 and you go sell this by the crate," because the good, they were shipping out of the center to other centers. So you could do that sort of, okay. And always, all the ladies come in and say, "Oh Roy-san, you got to sell this cheaper." You know... "No, no, they told me to sell told me to sell it for this." But then that, that's the way they were. They were a lot of fun.

RP: So they'd grow the uri.

RM: Uri.

RP: At the chicken ranch?

RM: Yeah.

RP: With the fertilizer.

RM: Fertilizer. They'd grow watermelons, too. I think it was watermelons or something like that.

RP: At the chicken ranch?

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: Hm. All right. Were you involved in slaughtering the birds too or...

RM: Yeah.

RP: You were.

RM: Yeah, de-feathering. The men, old men and I was, they were in their fifties or sixties, they used to do it real good. They take it to the beak and then twist it. Really professional. But then we had to take the, take the, all the feathers off.

RP: There's an old oven or stove, like a barbeque out there.

RM: Oh, yeah.

RP: A stone...

RM: Yeah, they could, they'd cook sometimes.

RP: They'd cook 'em up there?

RM: Yeah. When they get busy they'd all go down.

RP: Uh-huh. Who'd deliver the eggs to the mess halls?

RM: I don't know. Because I never, I handled some eggs but then not... I used to get some and old men used to give me a bag of eggs like this and say, "Take this home to your mama." So I would hide it, you know I don't want anybody else to know I'm takin' eggs. And I'd hang it up real gentle and she'd know it's eggs, she had eggs. But they were nice.

RP: Did you have a little hotplate in your, in your room?

RM: Yeah, they had a, everybody had a hotplate. Sears and Roebuck.

RP: Like one gentleman said yesterday, "They made millions off us."

RM: Yeah, that and what's that? Carpenter... was it down Lone Pine? Big Pine. They had a lumberyard that they'd sell lumber.

RP: Oh, to the camp?

RM: Yeah. So they, you know, they built little chairs and things, whatnot.

RP: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

RP: Did you ever get to go out of camp?

RM: Yeah, we went once.

RP: Where?

RM: That was forty, I think '44. My aunt had a baby so my mother wanted to see her so she got out, got permission to go. We had, taking the bus. We took the bus and went up to Reno, Reno and then we got on a train there and we went to Denver, Colorado. It wasn't posted there against going. So they, they had a small market there and...

RP: Your aunt?

RM: Yeah. So we went there.

RP: What, do you remember the town where it was?

RM: Denver.

RP: Oh, it was Denver. Okay.

RM: Yeah. It was on Champa Street. Champa Street. Yeah. That's --

RP: So it helped...

RM: That train ride was one thing though. This lady, we got into this, what's his name? They guy when, guy that takes your bags and stuff?

RP: The porter?

RM: Porter, yeah. Porter took our bags and set 'em on the seat for us. And some guy, a lady, come and took 'em off and said, "No, that's my seat." So we had no seat. We had to sit on the suitcase and went all the way up to Utah like that. But some were, some of the sailors that were good, they, they told us... cards and stuff, drink. So, "You guys could have this seat to sleep." And we got to sleep. They were nice guys.

RP: How long were you in Denver for? Was it just a...

RM: Two weeks I think it was.

RP: And then back to camp.

RM: Yeah.

RP: How did it feel?

RM: Booze. [Laughs]

RP: How did it feel to be outside for a while?

RM: Well, nothing you could do out there, just same thing.

KP: Did you say you brought back booze?

RM: Booze.

KP: To the camp?

RM: Yeah. You could, you had to sneak it in. They were illegal. But they snuck in a lot of things.

KP: In suitcases and...

RM: No, we had, I think in one of the cases, yeah. We had only one bottle.

RP: One bottle.

RM: Yeah.

RP: Your dad...

RM: My father liked it, little bit once in a while so, yeah, he had one.

RP: You never --

RM: You can get beer. Used to be able to get beer, but no hard liquor.

RP: You used to get beer in camp?

RM: Yeah, they give you... after a while they started getting beer.

RP: Really? Oh. Do you remember any, any guys brewing up sake?

RM: Oh yeah. We had one guy in our camp. Buck. It was underneath the barrack. He fixed it real nice and then he'd grow sake. Begin from Jack, you know the raisins? That kind? And he'd... then one, one time my father's, I think it was New Year's, they had some bad rice or something. So he said, "No use throwing away. You give it to this guy and he'll make sake for everybody." So he made sake. Everybody, camp, I think all the camp, mess halls had at least a bottle.

KP: So what, do you remember what barracks that was? It was Block 4...

RM: Block 4... one, two, three, four, five... twenty. Four twenty, four twenty?

RP: Oh, there was...

RM: It's right behind the bathrooms.

RP: Behind the bathrooms?

RM: Uh-huh. It was high, though. That one, only one that had a high...

KP: Right behind the bath... was it fourteen or...

RM: Fourteen or fifteen, something like that. One.

KP: One. Okay, we'll go look.

RP: All right.

KP: See if there's a hole in the ground.

RP: See if we can find another bottle out there. Oh, that's interesting.

RM: They used to grow, you know they used to dig holes in the ground and they'd make cellars, too, you know. We'd make...

RP: Cellars. Did you make a cellar?

RM: Yeah, we had a cellar underneath.

RP: You were in 4-4-2.

RM: Four-Two.

RP: Uh-huh. And was it, did you, did you dig it out?

RM: Yeah, they dig it out.

RP: And did they line it with concrete or wood or...

RM: No, no.

RP: Just dirt.

RM: Just dirt.

RP: And so would you, would you go down there when it got hot or...

RM: Yeah, hot or else they would play cards or something.

RP: Underneath the barrack?

RM: Yeah.

RP: Canasta or...

RM: Yeah, Canasta...

RP: Bridge.

RM: Poker, whatever.

RP: Poker. [Laughs] Card playing was a big pasttime in, in camp.

RM: Oh yeah, Japanese like card. Especially the Hana.

RP: Hana. Uh-huh. Did you play that, too?

RM: Oh no, I didn't, no.

RP: Hm. You, you just played poker right?

RM: No, I didn't play there. I was out before I started to play.

RP: Well your mom learned how to play Canasta before she went to camp, right?

RM: Yeah.

RP: You said you snuck over and learned how to play Canasta and make biscuits. What about, while we're on the subject of vices or, you know, drinking... gambling? Remember gambling in camp?

RM: There wasn't that much I don't think. There was probably a little bit. But what the heck. You can't even put it on. You know, you can't gamble on everything so.

RP: Hm. Wasn't much to lose.

RM: Uh-uh. I don't think it was... maybe there was somewhere more out towards the end of the blocks.

RP: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

RP: You mentioned, you know in your very clear story about this guy who had a sake still under his barrack. What else do you remember about Block 4? Were there, was there a basketball court there?

RM: Yeah. Basketball court, half court. Oh, I think it was a half court, no maybe full court. Full court. Just two poles, that's why. Yeah.

RP: Anything else? Gymnastic equipment or...

RM: No gymnastics.

RP: Gardens...

RM: Yeah, they had gardens all between the backs of the barracks they had it. Young kids used to go around and say, "Don't go step in Georgie and Papa's garden now." The little ones would say... my brothers, you know. Because I wasn't there early part, I used to go run across the two blocks and the firebreak and go to 16.

RP: Oh, is that where your friends were?

RM: Yeah.

RP: Uh-huh. So who did you hang out with?

RM: Oh, guys that you know around here.

RP: North Hollywood?

RM: Yeah. We met, we met some... Izumis?

RP: Izumis?

RM: Yeah, he was our Grace Bakery.

RP: Yeah, George?

RM: Yeah, he was there.

RP: [Laughs] Gimp, yeah. Did you, do you remember George working in the chicken ranch?

RM: No.

RP: He left his name in the concrete up there.

RM: Oh, could have been that, laid the concrete but...

RP: You know, you knew the, the Izumis. What other families did you...

RM: There were, there were none I know up there because they were fairly older. They're all in their late fifties or so when I was working there.

RP: So other than judo, did you, did you participate in other sports?

RM: Oh yeah, we played a little bit baseball, football a little bit. Didn't make it. Too small.

RP: Huh. Now baseball, you having roots in San Fernando, the Aces were the team.

RM: Yeah.

RP: You go to watch their games?

RM: Oh, once in a while. I wasn't interested in that that much. We used to play on our area is different guys, so.

RP: You played different blocks?

RM: Yeah. There was... used to play kids games. Hide and seek, things like that.

RP: Did you play marbles?

RM: Yeah. I had to get rid of 'em all before I left.

RP: You did? What did you do with them?

RM: I threw them all away.

RP: You threw... what did you?

RM: Yeah, throw them all over the place.

RP: Oh, you just tossed them? Well we've been finding your marbles for the last ten years.

RM: Yeah. [Laughs]

RP: So when somebody brings a marble into the visitor's center we'll say, "Oh that's Roy's. Sorry, we gotta take it back." [Laughs]

RM: Yeah, I used to play.

RP: So how many marbles did you have when you, when you left?

RM: I don't know. I had a full jar, probably like that.

RP: A jar. [Laughs]

RM: I was big for my age at that time. Because I had sprouted up to 5'5" when I was fourteen. So, my mother said, "What you doing with those little boys playing marbles?" So I had to play with them, you know. They liked to play.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

RP: This is tape three of a continuing interview with Roy Murakami. Roy, we were just talking a little bit about fishing and, outside of camp. Your father didn't fish.

RM: No, he had... the new ones.

RP: And you didn't either did you?

RM: No.

RP: But...

RM: Tashima sensei used to. He brought us back a golden trout, up the, you know, I think it's the Seven Sisters up there. One of those lakes, he got it.

RP: He went up, he had to go up pretty far to get those.

RM: Yeah. They took... they were all adventurous guys that would go out there. They take couple sandwiches or something like that and then go up.

RP: Do you remember how long they would be gone for?

RM: No, about a week or so.

RP: A week?

RM: Yeah.

RP: Do you remember a guy named Ishikawa who was a, oh, he was probably in his forties or fifties when he was in camp. But he used to also go up for a week or he might have, might have gone out with Tashima.

RM: Yeah, Tashima. Because he was, he was that age group.

RP: Uh-huh. Did he go up there once, just once in a while or very often or... Tashima?

RM: Tashima? Oh, once in a while.

RP: And your mom would fry up the trout?

RM: Oh yeah, we ate it that once. That's special. That was great. Pink color. First time I ate it, that kind of trout.

RP: But you never caught the fishing bug.

RM: [Shakes head] I'd rather read the book. [Laughs] I went, we went back to Manzanar some years later and I was, I would become the cook of our group. You know, there's rice and everything while they were away. When they come back then they got rice. And then cook up the trout or whatever they got.

RP: Oh, after, when you went up.

RM: When you camp.

RP: In camp?

RM: Out of camp. When the camp was no longer there.

RP: When you went up on vacations or...

RM: Yeah, he just, this one guy went fishing. He had a fishing bug.

RP: Huh. So you'd cook up the rice and he'd bring the trout.

RM: Yeah. My brother went I think and two, two or three of us went with him. We sleep in truck.

RP: Did your mom work in camp?

RM: Yeah, secretary.

RP: To a block manager?

RM: Block manager.

RP: Four?

RM: Four.

RP: Who was that? Do you remember?

RM: I, I think it was Hayashi.

RP: Hayashi?

RM: Hayashi I think it was.

RP: Hmm.

RM: Nice guy.

RP: Uh-huh. And she was secretary? Okay.

RM: Yeah.

RP: So she... was that the first time she'd ever... well, she worked at the nursery didn't she?

RM: Oh, yeah.

RP: So she, you know, she had that business background. So she wanted to keep busy?

RM: Yeah.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

RM: I remember that first Christmas they only, I think she got ten dollars for the kids. So everybody got some... they had to get something so they gave, I think the Block Association or something gave us $10, gave her $10 and she would buy these pencils and stuff like that, you know, for prizes.

RP: For gifts.

RM: [Nods]

RP: Uh-huh. Do you remember anything else about Christmas in the camp?

RM: No. I don't remember. It, it just was another day I guess.

RP: Yeah. Well, how about, how about New Year's?

RM: Huh?

RP: How about New Year's?

RM: New Years, there no New Years, I mean, just maybe sake. [Laughs] There's not, you know, we all ate the same area so... sometimes they make something... oh, mochi, that's right. They started making mochi for New Year's. We had ozouni in the kitchen.

RP: Did you ever pound mochi?

RM: No. I was too young to lift the hammer.

RP: Too young? How old did you have to be to pound mochi?

RM: Well, somebody has... you gotta be able to handle the hammer, you know.

RP: Right. You were fourteen.

RM: Ah, they didn't want me... they got older guys that like to do that kinda stuff.

RP: But you remember getting mochi?

RM: I think it was, it was one, two years, I think we had it. Ozouni mochi.

RP: Tell us about ozouni. What, what is ozouni?

RM: Ozouni is a soup which the mochi goes into. It could be clear or it could be made up of things. They had the clear soup if I remember right.

RP: In Jewish religion we call that, those matzah balls.

RM: Yeah, yeah. They have that new years?

RP: No, we don't... we, we have it for all different holidays during the year. But that's a traditional thing is to have a broth and these balls.

RM: Chicken, chicken soup and matzah balls?

RP: Yeah. Chicken, yeah, right.

RM: I eat that.

RP: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

RP: Was there any other work that you did in camp besides the chicken ranch?

RM: Oh, I did a little bit. Before that I did the farming out one day or so picking potatoes. That's a back-breaking job. They grew potatoes and they had to store 'em so they dug 'em up and the kids went out there and picked 'em for so much a bag or something like that. And they stored it... they had two storage areas over the, in the, where all the buildings are. They were dug out and... so they have potatoes for every day. It really, more or less, became self-sufficient in that they got meat and poultry and we had pork, some pork sometimes. But the vegetables there at all time almost, good vegetables.

RP: Did you have any connections or interactions with any of the military police who guarded the camp?

RM: Oh, yeah, one time. We used, we were going by one of the guard towers, and they guy started talking to us and he says, "Hey, you guys go out, I'll let you out the gate here and you could go out there and get me muskmelon." And he said, "And you could do anything you want out there but bring back these muskmelon for me." So we went out there and we broke open the watermelon and ate the just the middle out of it and then we take these balls back, you know. [Laughs]

RP: Oh you brought 'em back?

RM: Yeah, brought it to him, you know.

RP: The remains of the watermelon?

RM: No, no, muskmelon.

RP: Oh, muskmelon?

RM: Musk. [Laughs]

RP: That was interesting.

RM: We had one time we, a guy was standing there. He looked like Kay Kaiser. You don't know Kay Kaiser I don't think. Kay Kaiser used to be band leader, big band, and he, before the war I think he was. But he, this guy just looked like him. Got the glasses, short blond hair, you know and stuff. And he would come and we would talk to him. And he brought his Thompson out, took the bullets out and, "Here, you could play with this." And we just look around and... it was pretty good.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

KP: Can I ask a couple questions? So you, most of your San Fernando folks went into Blocks 15, 16, 17?

RM: Fifteen, 16... 14, 15, 16, 17. I don't know if they went to 18 or not.

KP: So you ended up in Block 4 with people from Bainbridge Island, correct?

RM: No, 3 is Bainbridge.

KP: Okay, just 3...

RP: Who was in 4?

KP: Who was in 4?

RM: They were mixed up from Orange County and... let's see, Orange County and Los Angeles. I think mostly Los Angeles. Yeah.

KP: But then of course right next door to you, you had Blocks 9 and 10, the Terminal Islanders.

RM: Yeah.

KP: How did... we've heard stories about people from Terminal Island.

RM: [Laughs]

KP: How did you...

RM: Yogores, they used to call them. They were all right. After we got settled down, toward the end of Manzanar I used to go around and talk to them. Because most of my guys went to Tule over in 16. The younger guys went with their families so they were in Tule.

RP: No-nos.

RM: So, I went over there and we talked to them and they were nice guys.

RP: Then your father had connections through Wakayama with those Terminal Island...

RM: Yeah, they didn't talk to him. There was a guy there named Tani, Mr. Tani, he's in the book. He was sort of like their boss, you know. And he, he talked to him. We used to have a lot of fun there. I know they used to call 'em yogores. They're not bad. Older guys maybe because trouble once in a while. But they, they went to dances and they looked out for the judo, judo guys were there so they didn't make much trouble. I think one time one of the guys got real drunk or something and broke in one of the windows and they caught him. And they let him go but, like I said, like Tani, I think, Tani, Mr. Tani, came and apologized you know, that kind. So, anyway...

RP: And he was, Tani was kinda the guardian of... looked over.

RM: Yeah, he, all over those San Pedro bunch and Terminal Island.

RP: Wild bunch. Yeah, yeah.

RM: They were, they were, they got good stories. How they had to get out of the islands. Twenty-four hours.

RP: Actually it was more than that. It was, it was forty-eight hours.

RM: Was it forty-eight?

RP: Yeah.

RM: Oh. They had to get out, sell everything.

RP: Maybe they had more compassion than you think. So your father remained the superintendent or assistant superintendent of all these different divisions?

RM: Yeah.

RP: Right to the time that, that you left camp?

RM: To the time that we could get out, yeah.

RP: Uh-huh. How about... and you, you continued judo throughout the time that you were in Manzanar?

RM: Yeah.

RP: You, you were...

RM: Worked out.

RP: Worked out and trained all that time?

RM: Yeah.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

RP: Well, you know in, in 1944, a lot of people went to Tule Lake and so, I mean a lot of those were Kibeis and kendo just completely stopped at that point. How was judo affected?

RM: Only, I guess it was some effect but I don't know how many it would be.

RP: When people started relocating...

RM: Relocating, going back home.

RP: But judo remained... how long, how long was your family there? When did you leave the camp?

RM: I think it was August of '45, or something like that.

RP: judo...

RM: Soon as the war ended we went back.

RP: Uh-huh. Do you remember the day the war ended and...

RM: [Shakes head] It was no interest to me. But I knew when we got to come back to... from camp to here. We had to, my father went up to Reno and purchased an old Plymouth. I think '27, I mean, '37 or something like that. Anyway he came and he said, "We're gonna go." So we got ready for it and, no... he took us, took me and we went to look for a place where we could go. And it happened that Doctor Sakaguchi had a house. It was, you know, just a fair house, on Sategory. So he, my father came down and looked at it and said, "Okay, I'll talk to Doctor Sakaguchi." And then he bought, no... yeah, Dad, I think it was Doctor Sakaguchi's dad that talked to him anyway. Anyway, they rented the house. It's, I think it was two bedroom, three bedroom or something like that. It was in a small building, though. Barely get the sleeping facility in there and one kitchen with a dining room and everything all in one. Then you had to go to bath, Japanese bath, outside. You put wood underneath the water and then boil it.

RP: Do you remember having those baths when you grew up in North Hollywood?

RM: No, we didn't have it... a shower, we had a regular bath.

RP: Bathtub.

RM: Yeah. Most of 'em, farmers had that kind of bath.

RP: Ofuro.

RM: Yeah.

RP: Do you remember ofuros in Manzanar? Some of the blocks had 'em.

RM: Oh, we had 'em. But the...

RP: You had 'em?

RM: Yeah, cement.

RP: Right.

RM: Yeah.

RP: What was it like bathing in those?

RM: We didn't, I didn't do it. I took a shower. It was faster.

RP: [Laughs] So that's where you came after you left camp, is the...

RM: Yeah, over here.

RP: Sakaguchi's house.

RM: Sakaguchi's house.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

RM: And then later on, I think was '49, something like that, we moved to another house he had on the Sherman Way and... Sherman Way and Sattuck Way, I think it was. No, not was Sattuck way. Sherman Way and... oh, I forget that road. Whitsit. Whitsit.

RP: Uh-huh. Did you --

RM: That's where your, my father and mother started a nursery. He would do gardening and he would bring some of the cuttings in and my mother would plant 'em and start nursery.

RP: That's how it started.

RM: And we had, we were out of high school and became FFA student. I had three sheep and my brother had two cows, steers. We raised 'em to market and then we sold 'em. And we had chickens, rabbits.

RP: This was on the nursery grounds.

RM: Yeah. Not the nursery but the place where we raised, started the nursery. Then when my father found this place where we are now... he knew the guy that owned it. He was across the street and he had moved in from Hollywood about '29 or something like that, Mr. Moser. So we, we, he negotiated with him and bought one parcel and then later on he bought the other part. So then he got that nursery there and then we started there.

RP: That was the Sego Nursery?

RM: Yeah, Sego.

RP: After your dad. And did you dad continue to garden?

RM: Oh, no. He quit that.

RP: He became the nursery guy.

RM: Yeah.

RP: Was that also a retail nursery, too?

RM: Yeah.

RP: Uh-huh. And how was business in the postwar years?

RM: Oh, not bad.

RP: Was the area starting to develop?

RM: Yeah, yeah.

RP: Bought homes and...

RM: Yeah.

RP: Did your dad ever get involved in any type of landscaping?

RM: Little bit. Before the war he went up, I remember going up to Taft, Taft in, up north, some motel there. He landscaped it.

RP: In Taft? That's an oil, oil town.

RM: Yeah. Was a motel and he, he stayed on a couple days I think there, and he landscaped there, with his helper.

RP: Huh, did you go?

RM: Yeah, I went to see. I was there a couple days.

RP: What type of landscape did he put in? Was it..

RM: Oh, it was just shrubbery.

RP: Just shrubs and...

RM: Nothing fancy those days.

RP: Not for Taft.

RM: No.

RP: They're not ready for Japanese rock gardens. Oh, yeah. Did he do any rock work?

RM: No.

RP: No.

RM: No.

RP: Just plants?

RM: He stayed with plants.

RP: He work with irrigation at all or...

RM: No irrigation that time. Just faucet type of irrigation, that's about it. No sprinkler system. I don't think they had it.

RP: So the Sego Nursery grew most of their own plant, their own stock?

RM: No we bought it.

RP: You started buying it?

RM: That's a retail.

RP: Okay. Where'd you buy it from?

RM: Oh different places.

RP: Monrovia?

RM: Yeah, Monrovia or out, White, White, there's White Oak or whatever. One up in Gardena, there's two or three. Up north there's some.

RP: Were there any other Japanese-run nurseries in the San Fernando area at that time?

RM: Oh, in before the war? Yeah, I think there was.

RP: After the war?

RM: After the war, I don't remember. After the war they started them. One on Sherman Way, the Ishibashis did. He had a five acres of his own land so he started nursery. But he sold the land that's what. He was farming, but he didn't want it anymore. And then the little ones came all over the, that side.

RP: Little nurseries?

RM: [Nods]

RP: So you eventually took over the nursery business?

RM: Yeah, two of us. My brother.

RP: Your brother, too?

RM: Yeah. We went corporation and then, then my, I got my kids in and they're all in it now.

RP: Oh, they're running it? There's still a nursery?

RM: Yeah. Yeah.

RP: Three generations.

RM: Three of 'em.

RP: Uh-huh. Has it expanded and...

RM: No, we can't go any further up here. There's a parcel of land there that they wanted us to rent. But heck, who wants go against the oil companies and stuff?

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

RP: Tell us about the... part of resettling was also trying to get these dojos started up again. And did your father resume operating a San Fernando Dojo or...

RM: Yeah. San Fernando, we started there. No North Hollywood.

RP: Never...

RM: Oxnard, no, and Rafu was different. Rafu Dojo became something else. Tamachi Dojo I think it was.

RP: So...

RM: Oxnard then I think in the '50s, late '50s we started. I went up there and...

RP: You, you helped start it?

RM: [Nods] Then I don't know how they did there but I don't like to stay there because you got black belts there and they should be able to take care of it. But I don't know what happened.

RP: So you went into Manzanar at what rank?

RM: White belt.

RP: White belt? And you came out...

RM: Brown belt.

RP: And then you, then you received your first black belt at...

RM: Sixteen.

RP: Sixteen? At San Fernando?

RM: No, it was tournament downtown.

RP: So why wasn't the North Hollywood Dojo opened again?

RM: Oh, they had sold it or filled it with lodge. Some kind of lodge. I don't know what kind of lodge it was. It used to be Japanese school, too, but that's all gone. It's a lodge, some kind of lodge there.

RP: So did many, many families resettle in the San Fernando area?

RM: Yeah just about a lot of 'em. They're all dispersing a little bit, little bit because the families getting bigger and go out into all these other places. Dentists, doctors, you know.

RP: So did you see, did you see judo expand its appeal in the '50s?

RM: Oh, yeah, it expanded. Yeah. Fifties, '60s, it expanded quite a bit. Seventies a little bit down I think. But...

RP: How about this Sansei generation, did they...

RM: There's some of them that's good you mean? There's some that are good, I mean really good. Some of 'em that just put the time in I guess sometimes.

RP: And you're still a consultant or sort of an advisor to the San Fernando...

RM: I advise, yeah.

RP: And your son is the sensei there?

RM: He teaches there.

RP: Uh-huh.

RM: Head teacher, instructor.

RP: And how has judo changed since the time that your father was teaching and, and how is it now? You're, are you in constant struggle to keep the old --

RM: Old ways?

RP: -- the old ways?

RM: Yeah, probably. The old ways out, and bring on the new. That's the way it's supposed to, looks like.

RP: So what is the new way?

RM: [Shrugs] I don't know yet. That's hard to say. Practice is different, a little different. But the flows are same. So you can't say in there.

RP: Is the respect still there?

RM: No. Not all of it. Our dojo we try to do respect, but a lotta dojo don't have respect for anything. They just want to be macho. Well, the good, old ways were good. New ways may be better. I can't tell you, really.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

RP: You said early on in our interview that your mom was a citizen and she lost her citizenship when she married your father.

RM: Right.

RP: And did they both, did your father become a citizen and...

RM: [Nods] Both same time.

RP: Same time?

RM: [Nods]

RP: Was that shortly after they came out of camp? I think 1952 was the first year.

RM: Yeah, something like that. When they had the citizenship schools and stuff like that.

RP: They went to a school?

RM: Yeah, well, they had to go to school and what the heck is was supposed to be about.

RP: Uh-huh. Did you attend the ceremony for their...

RM: No, it was private, I guess downtown or something like that. We had to work.

RP: How did they feel about that?

RM: About citizenship? I think it should be pushed more. It's getting better because I guess if you go to war and serve two years or so you can get a citizenship, right?

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

RP: You didn't, did you have a military background at all?

RM: Uh-huh, Korea.

RP: What happened? Where did you go?

RM: I go into Korea.

RP: Uh-huh. Which unit, I mean.

RM: Third Ack-Ack Third Division Ack-Ack, Antiaircraft. We didn't have antiaircraft subject to blow up so we had this, we had to fire into the trenches. We had fifty, a half-track with fifty calibers, four fifties, and a half of light chassis tank with two forties. And that I think it was three per each squad or something like that.

KP: So you had the half-tracks with the...

RM: Fifty caliber.

KP: Four... yeah, okay. So that was the same, same half-tracks that were patrolling around Manzanar?

RM: No, these, these are antiaircraft.

KP: Okay.

RP: Oh, they're antiaircraft guns, on a half-track.

RM: Yeah, they have antiaircraft guns from World War II.

KP: Right.

RM: And they used 'em over in Korea, too.

KP: They're, they're four guns all together is...

RM: Yeah, makes a lot of noise. I gotta check my hearing pretty soon.

RP: So what unit were you in, attached to?

RM: The Third Division. Third Division, Third Ack-Ack.

RP: Okay, right.

RM: Company C.

KP: And were you drafted?

RM: Yeah. I got out of school. I was, finished school and went.

RP: High school.

RM: No, college.

RP: Where did you go to college?

RM: Pierce.

RP: Pierce? So did I. Uh-huh. What did you take there? Were you taking nursery classes or agriculture?

RM: Yeah, horticulture. But they give you a lot of different things there. Floral hard-cuts, too. Yeah, we had guys that were, were there from World War II teaching us.

RP: At Pierce?

RM: Uh-huh.

RP: How long did you spend in Korea?

RM: Sixteen months or something like that. I don't remember. I gotta look at my card. It's all right. Came out sergeant first class. Made more money.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

RP: I thought you'd be a judo instructor in the military.

RM: No, they don't, they won't take me. I applied for March Air Force base but they didn't need me.

RP: Was judo part of military training for, for...

RM: Some of it.

RP: For the Korean war, or...

RM: Yeah. Some of it. Air Force had it quite a bit I think. Navy had some.

RP: Not the army?

RM: Army didn't have it.

RP: That scrapbook that you donated to us had some stories about some, some gentleman I think in the Navy who was Bruno? I think his name was...

RM: Yeah, yeah. He's, he became head of San Jose, I think. Coach of San Jose. And then he went up to national president of Judokan.

RP: So did you get, eventually did you get involved as judo became an Olympic sport, were you involved at all in...

RM: No, only for working, building the mats or something like that.

RP: Uh-huh. You never refereed or anything like that?

RM: No. They didn't need me.

RP: But it is an Olympic, it's still an Olympic sport, isn't it?

RM: Yeah. It's goin' big. It's, I don't know. My personal opinion is that you will never learn to be, or know enough to become a judokan, a real true judokan. There's always something you gotta learn. And there's a lot of what you will say, tension in it sometimes. You know, there's political sometimes. I don't know if there's a lot of political stuff, but I guess there is, because we have the nationals, all the way up to nationals.

RP: Speaking of political stuff, did you have a reaction to 1988, the bill was passed to, to give every survivor of the camps, you know, an apology and a check for $20,000?

RM: Came too late. It came too late. All the work that somebody did, it came too late, to my opinion. It could have been given to more people that really needed it.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 42>

RP: We were just discussing the...

RM: Political.

RP: The political issues that came after the camps. The redress and you were sharing your opinions about, that it came a little too late.

RM: For some people, I think so. There's a lot of Isseis that needed it. You wait twenty years to get it, I think it was twenty years before they got it.

RP: Actually forty.

RM: Yeah. So...

RP: How do you look back on those, on those Isseis, like your dad and what, what their role was here in America and...

RM: I think you would say, I would say that they were probably the foundation stones of the Japanese culture in America. They had schools, and they had judo, kendo. Now they're doing karate, things like that coming out. Odori, the dancing. Those are important things that should be kept alive. There's a lot of things that don't have to be kept alive but there's, I think those were the, some of the... but I don't know. There was a lot of in-fighting of this and that. Some of the things that I think should be brought up more is, like the, well, the VFW, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the guys in that for 442nd and 100th and Korean, we still look at guys' tombstones and salute them, you know. They should salute them more, too. And I would like to see Ralph P. Merritt have a opening in your building somewhere. You know, but he got a lot of, I think he's got a lot of information. And UCLA's got it but I don't know how to get to it. Because he was an important, a very important man I think as a director. I think he did America good job. After the guys there that was first.

RP: After the riot, yeah.

RM: Yeah. I mean, that there was too much hanky-panky, I guess.

RP: So in talking about your camp experience, it sounds like it was very positive for you?

RM: I don't know what you call positive, whether it would be positive.

RP: Well how do you reflect on it?

RM: Oh...

RP: Sixty...

RM: I remember. I try to tell kids, too. Sometimes they'll listen, sometimes they won't listen. I think that losing too much and going and figuring it out against cultures of Japan even though they're Japanese, too. I don't know how many generations, but should be about fifth now huh? Fifth or fourth generation. They had to be submerged in a little bit of that I think. And become proud, they would become prouder. They're Americans, yes. But they have Japanese in them.

RP: Do you have any questions?

KP: No, I think that just about covers it.

RP: Anything else you'd like to add, Roy?

RM: Oh, I'd like to thank you all, at the Manzanar. Taking care...

RP: You said, I know you visited last year, and you visited once before --

RM: Yeah, way before.

RP: -- as well. Do you, when you were there last year, was there anything that you, that you felt while you were there? Does it bring back all the memories or...

RM: Oh, yeah, well, seeing the, seeing the mess hall sort of brought back, you know, it brought back a lot of things. Because that's where we were almost centered in our, our teen months or whatever was in the mess hall. They had meetings and whatever. And...

RP: So it represents a lot of camp life to you.

RM: Yeah.

RP: How about standing there where the dojo used to be?

RM: Oh, that brings back some, but it's, you can't say it does lots. I would like to see a wall or something, maybe outlining the area that was dojo. That would be interesting.

RP: Roy, thank you very much.

RM: You're welcome.

RP: On behalf of Kirk and myself and National Park Service, we really appreciate your stories and sharing them with us.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.