Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Toshiro Izumi Interview
Narrator: Toshiro Izumi
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: March 2, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-ftakayo-01-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

RP: After you graduated from San Pedro High School, I guess it was your father who bought a store?

TI: Uh-huh, yeah. It was owned by some other friend of my father. And this man, I guess, wanted to go back to Japan. And then he had a small store but it was doing okay. And he didn't want to just sell it to anybody. And since he was a friend of my father he thought we could take over and continue with the business.

RP: So you were, you began working in the store I guess with your mom?

TI: Yes, with my mom, uh-huh.

RP: And that was located on Terminal Way?

TI: On Terminal Way.

RP: Right. So, maybe, Tosh, you can talk a little bit about the business section of Terminal Island.

TI: Oh. Well...

RP: What did you have there?

TI: Pardon?

RP: What did you have available?

TI: Oh, well, we had a small meat counter and vegetable and canned goods. That was about it. Now, there were other stores that were much larger, well, they were much larger than ours. And they were there for a longer time so they had connection with the fishing boat owners. And they were supplying most of the food to the ship, for the fishing boat. And of course the families went there too to buy their food. And, I believe there were about six stores like that that catered to the fishing industry.

RP: Do you remember any of their names?

TI: Well, just the last name. There was, there was the OK Market. I forgot who owned it. There's Yamamoto, Murakami, and... there were others. Just slipped my mind.

RP: Did you have other, besides stores, other businesses in that district?

TI: No. No, that's all I did.

RP: Stores?

TI: Store.

RP: What else in the way of services were there for the Terminal Island community? In other words, did you have a doctor on the island?

TI: Oh yes. We had... see, in my mind, I can't name them but I think there were about three MDs and there must have been about same number of dentists and we had two drug stores, pharmacist-owned drug stores.

RP: So you were pretty well contained as far as services on the island?

TI: Uh-huh, yes. We got most of our things right there on the island. But there will be some sale on the mainland and the mothers would tell the kids, "On your way home, stop at a certain store and buy this and bring it home." [Laughs]

RP: While you were, let's see, you were born in 1918 so you were, you know, twenty... in the late '30s you were in your early twenties. How much did you keep up with events outside the Terminal Island community, specifically the world? And did you have any idea that Japan would ever end up in a war with the United States?

TI: No. I never thought Japan would be that dumb, but it happened. We subscribed to the L.A. Times and this Japanese newspaper, Rafu Shimpo. So we had quite a good idea of what was going on.

RP: Did you have a radio too?

TI: Yeah, we had a radio, uh-huh. Shortly before the war, I wonder if we had television? No, I guess not. Yeah, we had radio.

RP: Now your father, having been a veteran in the Japanese army and some pretty strong connections, do you recall his feelings, if any, about what was happening between these two countries?

TI: No. He never spoke about things Japanese. And he's been in this country a long time that I don't think he knew what was really going on in Japan. Except what he read in the newspaper and they're not very concise or, you know, in their reporting.

RP: You, personally, were you affected by any acts of prejudice or discrimination based on your ancestry?

TI: Not that I know of.

RP: Before the war?

TI: No, before the war. Of course we were living right there in the Japanese community so there wasn't too much communication with the American people. Of course when we went to school our friends were Caucasian, but there was nothing that I can speak of.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.