Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Ted Hamachi Interview
Narrator: Ted Hamachi
Interviewer: Kirk Peterson
Location: West Covina, California
Date: March 4, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-hted-01

<Begin Segment 1>

RP: This is an oral history for the Manzanar National Historic Site. This morning we're talking with Ted Hamachi. Our interview is taking place at the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center at 1203 Puente Street in West Covina. The date of our interview is March 4, 2010. Behind the camera is Kirk Peterson and conducting the interview is Richard Potashin. We'll be talking with Ted about growing up in this area as part of a farming family and then eventually we'll talk to him about his experiences at the Pomona Assembly Center as well as the Heart Mountain War Relocation Center. Our interview is taking place, will be archived in the Park's library at Manzanar and, Ted, do I have permission to go ahead conduct our interview?

TH: Okay.

RP: Thank you very much for your time this morning. First, can you share with us your date of birth and where you were born?

TH: I was born in San Gabriel, California, known as San Gabriel, today it's called Rosemead, California but annexations and stuff changed the name. But I was born on May 26, 1927, in a farm house. Today I think it's the sixth tee box, where I was born, at the Whittier Narrows Golf Course. It's the Mountain Course, they call it the Mountain Course there.

RP: What was your given name at birth, Ted?

TH: Teruo, T-E-R-U-O.

RP: Do you know what that Japanese name would mean?

TH: According to the way you write it, it's supposed to mean "sunny boy." That's the interpretation I got, people who went to school in Japan, that's the way you read it.

RP: And how did you acquire the name Ted?

TH: I had neighbors, they were like, and today you would call them godparents. And they were Caucasian. And so instead of just taking us out to the field, I grew up in a home and sort of partially raised by a Caucasian couple. Their name were Patricia and Charles Lawrence. They were neighbors, the next field over from where I was born.

RP: So they named you?

TH: They started calling me, they couldn't say Teruo, so they said Teru or they started making it short so it would be easier to say.

RP: It finally evolved into Ted?

TH: Uh-huh, but during the days in camp, to get the teachers to not call on you, I stayed with my Japanese name. [Laughs] And that way, you don't get picked on as often.

RP: Good strategy. That's a good strategy. Let's talk a little bit about the other members of your family beginning with your father. Can you give us his name?

TH: Shotaro Hamachi.

RP: And where did he come from in Japan?

TH: He came from Fukuoka, which is the northern portion of Kyushu island. That's the next island below Honshu, the main island of Japan.

RP: Can you share with us any information that you know about your father's upbringing in Japan, his family?

TH: They lived in sort of a hillside village. And I was fortunate to be able to visit the home, saw pictures of where he was born. They had straw roofs. And if the roof leaked, they tied on more straw mats for the roofing. And the floor was dirt. When my sister went back to visit, she happened to see our numerous family photos, you know, the family photos hanging in this particular hut-like building. I would call it a hut because it wasn't very big.

RP: Do you know what the family did for a living in Japan?

TH: I don't know. I think, on my mother's side, they were farmers. But on my dad's side... not too positive. That's why he took an early exit. But I think his, my grandfather was in some kind of business because later on he had property. It was my grandfather's property that was later bought up by the Fukuoka University that was expanding. And so the laws, or the property owners in Japan are kept pretty discreetly because it goes back to the 1800s and they still have records of who's who. If you have a little bit of family left in Japan, they're looking for somebody and the word gets around that they were looking for so and so family, and then there's a relative, indirectly, that pointed our way. I was the one that they called and the transactions (were made) every so often, there was an interpreter and we finally got it finalized.

RP: Do you know how old your father was when he came to the United States?

TH: I think the first time he came... I really don't have a date but when he came the second time with my wife, I mean, my mother, it was December 25, 1919 (at the age of 31). And the port of embarkation was Seattle, Washington.

RP: So he came to the United States to make money because of some of the hardships that existed in Japan at the time?

TH: Uh-huh. He verbally talked about, typically, he spoke about making money and when they get back to Japan, he could have servants, serving him, he could get cheap labor in Japan... a lot of the goals of Issei Japanese. But my father never went back to Japan. He told me a few things. One of the things I remember most was that if you were to live in the U.S., southern California would be about the top place to live in. That was probably a good advice.

RP: Your mother, her name?

TH: Kohide Hamachi.

RP: You said that your father went back to bring her to the United States?

TH: Right.

RP: Did they marry in Japan?

TH: Yes.

RP: Was there a go-between?

TH: I don't know that part. I know how go-betweens work but I don't think it happened in my dad and mother's... I don't know. I can't say for sure.

RP: Did either of your parents have much education before they came to the United States?

TH: I think my dad had a high school education and my mother, whether she graduated high school, I don't know. She did have enough education to where she taught my older sister well enough that my oldest sister was born here but she was educated like she was a person born here, educated in Japan, and came back here. My oldest sister was really something that just before World War II, she was like a teacher's assistant, she could read, write and do fude, which is calligraphy. She did most everything pretty regularly. In fact, she married her husband (who) was a Kibei-Nisei and she could almost read and write as well as he could.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

RP: Did either of your parents ever share with you some of their early experiences in settling in America, how different it was or some Niseis talk about of their struggles to try to eke out a living?

TH: I don't hear, I didn't hear too much about the struggles, but I know that the first thing my mother did when she came to California was to learn how to be a seamstress. She went to tailoring school and later on as a kid I used to remember the curves and stuff, like a ruler that was curved, scissors, things of this nature that you needed to have to do tailoring work. She did better in the fields, she adapted herself to the fields and can work from sunup to sunset without too much trouble. She was a pretty healthy person.

RP: Were there any other members of your mother or father's family that also came to the United States?

TH: No, that's the problem, as kids we grew up and we had no cousins. The family that was closest to us was my dad's classmate that came from Fukuoka in the same village. And so they lived in Los Angeles, we lived out in the country, they came out to the country and from the early times I remember as a kid, we used to butcher a chicken and we used to have fried chicken every Sunday. This is in the time of hardship, after the Depression, we still ate quite well.

RP: Where did your parents originally settle in the southern California area?

TH: In San Gabriel Valley. It was real unfortunate that the last week of 1933... I'll go back a little bit. The summer of 1933, they had a big mountain fire right above Altadena, Pasadena. This fire burnt for over a month, just like the Station Fire of 2009, it just burned a lot and they couldn't put it out too easily. But that winter of 1933, it rained off and on, day and night, for a whole week between Christmas and New Year's. And when it started raining, the same thing happened where the mud flowed, the drainage weren't cement lined or anything so the ravaging, the water went through my dad's field. And so that forced us to move out of the area.

RP: What was your father growing in the early years that he was farming in San Gabriel Valley?

TH: Well, he was... going back again to the first time he came here, he could drive a team of horses and he learned this in Imperial Valley. That was when he came the first time, he worked in the Imperial Valley and he learned how by working for someone else, how to grow cantaloupes and so he brought that knowledge that he acquired early on. He grew a lot of cantaloupes. He would try to grow cantaloupe without watering it too much until the cantaloupes came on the vines. And then he would start watering the cantaloupes regularly. And that created more sugar and so his crops did well. The early pioneers had to fight the birds, the rabbits, they had to use guns or whatever method they could use to get rid of them. I think they even had dogs to chase after rabbits and stuff.

RP: What are some of your most vivid memories of working as kid on the farm?

TH: Well, I was the oldest son so I used to haul, when I was able to get around to doing it, I used a horse and I used to haul out cantaloupes out of the field. And sometimes you have accidents, but most of the times you did what you were told and how to do it.

RP: You mentioned you were the oldest son. Can you give us the names of your other brothers and sisters? Who was above you?

TH: My eldest sister was named Kazuko and she went by the English name of, might have been... I can't remember now. I was going to try to say Susie but that doesn't sound too good. My second sister, which was, she's four years older than I am, her name is Kikuno and she went by the name of Kay, K-A-Y. And I had a younger brother, four years younger, named Masaru and they called him Mas. And I have a kid brother that's fourteen younger than I am --

RP: Fourteen years?

TH: Yeah, and his name is Shig, Shigeru.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

RP: Ted, we were talking a little about your early remembrances of living and working on your dad's farm. Where did the water for his farm come from, do you recall?

TH: Yeah, the place I was born is Whittier Narrows Golf Course, on the northwest corner of the total golf course there, there stands a well there. And when my dad first leased the ground, he needed water, so they stuck a well down. And that well turned out to be an artesian well. They put the well in with a casing and it ran day and night, unless you put the cover on it. And then later on they did put a well and a tank above the pump. You could also get pressure by filling the tank, you could have a hose on there, and then the pump pumping the water out. And pumping it up to the water tank on top created enough water pressure that you could wash vegetables and get the dirt off the roots.

RP: Is that something else that you did?

TH: What's this?

RP: Cleaning the vegetables?

TH: Yeah, I didn't do it but I remember my dad doing it. I just went there and waited for him to finish what he was supposed to be doing.

RP: How many acres did your father farm?

TH: I think when he farmed the area I was born, that was around thirty acres. Then he moved only about a quarter mile up the road and that might have been a twenty acre piece, or more, I don't know but it's around there.

RP: Did he have additional help or hire seasonal labor?

TH: He did, yes.

RP: Who did he hire?

TH: He hired people that lived in San Gabriel. And whether he had to go after 'em or they came on their own, I don't remember. But I remember going near the old mission in San Gabriel, a family by the name of Gamino. Because I went numerous times, they got to know who I was and so I ate Mexican food. They offered lot of stuff that they had to eat.

RP: So, Mexican labor?

TH: Uh-huh. And I remember the year I got a scar here, a burn scar. We were woken up early in the morning, everybody went out to the field, they got a bunch of crates, they were shipping some mustard green. It was early in the morning so they built like a bonfire and all the kids sat around this bonfire. The crate I was sitting on sort of wasn't on level ground and it tilted and I fell into the fire. I got a scar here. It's been a nemesis all my life because as a kid you want to rake your hair over that scar so it won't show but today it doesn't matter. In the olden days it was something to hide.

RP: Did you have to make your own crates for your produce?

TH: At that time I don't remember but I think that you could get used crates, those that were used once or twice. That was a problem. Coming back to that time I fell in the fire, a lot of friends were there because they had a big order and they were bunching these mustard greens. This was during the Depression I guess, about 1931.

RP: Since you lived on the farm, you mentioned that you did have a fair amount of food to survive on. Did you feel any other, as a kid feel that, you didn't quite have as much as you did before that? Did the Depression affect the family significantly?

TH: I think up to the 1933, although, the time we had to move away, the flood time, up to that time, I think we had pretty much a normal life because during the roaring '20s, people did quite well. And if you were an immigrant and you're saving money to go back to Japan, you had a little bit of money stashed away. I'm pretty sure he did well because he, I think the year I was born he bought a 1927 Hudson, like a touring sedan with a soft top. And that was our family car until we left for camp. I wrote in that paper that I was the guy that we loaded all we could into that touring car and I drove to the Pomona Assembly Center.

RP: So were there other Japanese American farmers working in the vicinity of your father's farm? What was the makeup of other farming operations in that area?

TH: It was mostly a lot of orchards, like walnut orchards and orange orchards in the West Covina, Covina area. But wherever there was open land, you would see a Japanese family farming and very few Mexican farmers. There was one Filipino farmer, but mostly all Japanese families and did you know before the war this area in West Covina used to... the farmers used to get together and for the local school, they used to put on a chow mein dinner? It was usually in the wintertime when the things weren't too busy. They put on a chow mein dinner for the PTA and it was all voluntary and it was a fundraiser for the school. So before the war, we did have a pretty good relationship with the community.

RP: Did your father, was he involved in other community activities in the Japanese community as well as...

TH: There were two Japanese associations in the San Gabriel Valley. One was called Nihonjinkai and the other one was called the Sangyo Gumiai. And there were two associations, you belonged to one or the other, they were both farm type of organizations. And each group would put on a Japanese movie and they would have this at Columbia Grammar School in El Monte. El Monte was sort of the center hub of the community. So maybe you meet six times a year, I don't know, I don't remember that part but we'd spend a Saturday night going to a movie, the old style movie where it was a silent movie but the voices were put in by the old commentator or whoever. But it was real interesting to hear that person speak in the ladies tone of voice and a man's later and the kids.

RP: Were these movies in Japanese?

TH: It was in Japanese, yes.

RP: Sometimes the samurai movies would be shown?

TH: That's right.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

RP: What else do you recall in your early years in terms of social activities, or picnics, or outings, things that you might remember?

TH: I'm going to eat my own words, but I told you that was the only Japanese organization, farmers, but actually Japanese had another organization that they belonged to and that was a kenjinkai. Once a year, during the summer months, we would all go to the beach, or to a park and we would have a big picnic. As a kid we would go and try to drink so many soda pops to get full. That's all we drank, was soda pop and eat very little food. [Laughs] I remember that now.

RP: And that was a gathering of all the folks from Fukuoka?

TH: Yes. Also this group of people that came from Fukuoka-ken, and that's the state, but there's a county in place called Itoshima-gun and it's a county group and that was sort of stronger than the kenjinkai I thought, but then my parents are from that county so we had also separate picnic. And also there was the same two groups had a New Year's party. Every January, it didn't have to be January first, but within the month of January, they had a couple of New Year's party. And this is where my dad used to go and drink up sake.

RP: That was one of the traditions that folks tell us about was that the men would go visiting and have a little drink here, a little drink there.

TH: Yeah, and then it so happened that as a teenager I used to drive home from Los Angeles, believe it or not, on a rainy night. Of course, it was like one a.m. or two a.m. when there was hardly any traffic. I remember driving home from Los Angeles, East LA.

RP: That was on New Year's?

TH: Yeah, this is a New Year's party.

RP: Did you bring your father back?

TH: Yeah, my father was sort of passed out and I had to drive home.

RP: Designated driver.

TH: Uh-huh, maybe twelve years old. Really. I got licensed when I was fourteen years old. I had a valid California license with the restriction was that I could drive during the daylight hours but in the evening I had to have an adult with me. That was the only restriction and my dad and mother both went together to Azusa and we got a driver's license there. I think one of the reasons why they consented was that they thought we were going to drive to Manzanar, the Owens Valley, and there was rumors of that nature going on, and the way my dad health was, that he might not be able to make it all the way and so he had to have relief.

RP: That's an interesting way to get your license.

TH: Yeah, they consented and I had it.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

RP: Where did you go to grammar school, Ted? The first grammar school?

TH: The first grammar school was in where I was born, and I remember the first day I went, I guess they did the preliminary sign up, but the first day of school I went to neighboring friend, he might have been about six years older than I was. I went to kindergarten and my hair was cut Japanese style, in a butch haircut, and so it was like a brush. I remember everybody, all the other kids coming and rubbing their hands on my head.

RP: Did they make a wish, too?

TH: I guess, I don't know [Laughs]

RP: What was the name of the grammar school?

TH: I think it's Willard.

RP: Willard?

TH: Uh-huh, It's still in existence, I drive by it to go to Whittier Narrows to play golf every Tuesday.

RP: So when you go out there to play golf on that golf course, do you think about the old farm out there?

TH: Uh-huh, but we don't play their mountain course, we don't play that, that's sort of an executive shorter course. But when we do play it, it brings back memories.

RP: And did you like to play with as a kid growing up? Who were your buddies, close friends?

TH: There were of course the closest friend I have now is, he's still living, that's my dad's real good friend, they came from Fukuoka together. As kids we used to stay over, about maybe two, three days, sleepover and stuff. When we went to these picnics, we hung around together. And the other good friend I had was the friend that lived in Los Angeles and he came over every Sunday for Sunday dinner.

RP: When you needed to go shop, where would you go shop when you lived on the farm here? Where was the nearest area, community?

TH: Do you know, that's a good question. There were no grocery stores outside of somewhere you could go buy bread and milk. But there used to be a unique system where they used to be two different Japanese specialize, I wouldn't call them peddlers but they were like people that came around and took orders. The delivery date might be the next day or the day after. And whatever you ordered, they'd take the order out in the field. They would drive out to the field and they would take your order and it was on a credit basis, or crop time. There were two in the area when I grew up. Also there was a fish man, peddler, that came around once a week and it could be Saturday or could be a Wednesday, and he would carry a tofu in a five gallon bucket. He had to go into the house and either refrigerate it or leave it somewhere in the shade. The fish also, well, usually when the fish man came my mother used to run home and sometime he would come out in the field if we were busy but she would go home. If we didn't have ice in our ice box, she would salt the fish down and wrap it up in newspaper and stick it in the iceless ice box. And that's the way they used to preserve fish and stuff that they ordered.

RP: So that's how you got some of your other food supplies?

TH: Uh-huh. Peddlers, they made a pretty good living, too.

RP: Where did your father market his produce? Did he have someone come to the farm and haul it for him or did he personally have to deliver it to a vegetable market or produce mart?

TH: When I grew up, it's an old beat up, to me it looked beat up, but it was a fairly good truck, it was like a GMC and it was a hard rubber tired truck. And the early remembrance of that truck was that he used to haul cantaloupe and he used to drive it into the produce market at Seventh Street, seventh and Central in Los Angeles. He, like all farmers, now they take their wares and they go early enough that they get all set up and get ready to sell. Sometime he would have a hot item that people wanted so it wasn't too long before they used to help him unload it and put it away. Whether he collected all his money for all his merchandise, I don't know. But he worked hard all day packing all the crates and then he had a money bag. If you're sort of clumsy, you gotta keep putting your money in the right place. Whether he lost, or dropped some on the ground, I don't know. But he was a merchant and also had one of those aprons where they had pockets. He had money all over. When someone's walking off he had to go collect it, and he didn't have time to open up the money bag and stick it in there.

RP: Did he, like many Isseis who were in business in America, did he send money back to family in Japan?

TH: He did. When he had a surplus of money and stuff, he didn't forget his relatives in Japan.

RP: Another thing you mentioned is that it was kind of a tradition every year, was to go into Los Angeles and get a family portrait?

TH: Uh-huh. Maybe, I think every once in three or five years we used to take the trip to get a family portrait taken. I think we still have some, or some of the family still has some. It might be in that big trunk, like suitcase, it might still be there.

RP: And who took those pictures?

TH: Toyo Miyatake's studio was in First Street and I believe on the photos there's an imprint of their name on there.

RP: And those photos would also be sent back to Japan?

TH: Yeah, they were. They were, and so when we went back, certain relatives would brought all those photos out. It was on my mother's side where they kept all the photos and when I did visited them in 1979, I saw all the... there might have been five or more. That was in a short period, from say the '20s to '41. So they must have been every three years or so.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

RP: Would you characterize your upbringing as a child, as being some traditional Japanese culture as well as American culture?

TH: I think so. It probably won't get me into trouble today but if I said something like this years ago, but the Japanese schools in our local area, we used to go to a New Year's participation. They used to have the picture of the emperor and empress but it was covered and they had it on a, like velvet background. They had it covered and so you didn't get to see the picture too well because you would have to stand and they would say, "Saikeirei," which means to bow. And then they would open up the pictures and I think you would say your three banzais. If we did this, that was a tradition. I don't think too many Niseis ever brought that up in the oral interview but if I did, I don't have too many more years to live it down so I can say something like this because it was a true happening. This will also show other nationalities that the Niseis had a real strong ties a little bit with Japan. That's why we went to Japanese school and things of this nature.

RP: And that's some of the statements that were made by military and political authorities before the war was that these Japanese language schools were just basically places of emperor worship and indoctrination.

TH: As a kid, you're sort of ignorant of what's happening. If you had to do it today, you could sort of walk away but if they told you to do something, you sort of had, you sort of obeyed the older people. It was a tradition, I think. It means that we were growing up in the United States that they just wanted to keep up their own tradition that happens in Japan.

RP: Speaking of language, you speak Japanese in the house and English outside the house?

TH: In my mother and father's era, we spoke Japanese. In my family, after I got married, we spoke English, we didn't try to instill Japanese although my kids went to visit their grandma and grandfather, they were spoken to in Japanese and they tried hard to say a few words in Japanese. My kids tell me they wished they had learned Japanese language when they were growing up. I sent my kids to this Japanese school here, the West Covina Japanese Community Center Japanese school. I didn't force 'em though. I didn't tell them, there was a time when they were coming, the older kids were coming, and I asked my two boys that were older, I asked them if they wanted to go to Japanese school or play Pop Warner football and they opted to try Pop Warner football. They didn't have that well of athletic skills but they were happy that, I was happy too that I exposed them to the opportunity to play football. They learned discipline and so forth and so on. They got lot of team and stuff like this.

RP: Did you get much out of your Japanese language school experience?

TH: That was sort of dreadful. We got a ride, my dad would wake up on Saturday and he would drive us to Japanese school but on way home sometimes he didn't come around. He was busy or... and we walked maybe three miles, maybe four miles to come home. When you're not a big person, you're sort of a runt, you dread it because you don't have the energy. You have the energy to get going but later on just to sustain that walk is pretty hard work.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

RP: You talked about this mudslide that impacted your father's farm in 1933 and as a result of that you were forced to move? Where did the family next settle?

TH: We moved to Oxnard. Another family wanted to go on a joint venture so they talked it over and they tried to grow Chinese peas, the pea pod. They said Oxnard would be a good area and so we went to Oxnard.

RP: And how did that work out?

TH: Not too well. Anytime you do anything in a partnership, usually the partnership gets involved. Not too good, it's better to do everything on your own if you can.

RP: How long were you there?

TH: I believe something like one year and because of the failure to make it, we moved from Oxnard to Venice, California. At that time, my mom and dad worked as day laborers, you know, so much an hour. I think it was something like a hundred dollars a month or some equivalent to salary. At that time, we moved to Venice, my mother also had to do the cooking for the owner because I think the owner's, Japanese owner's wife, had passed away and so there was no one to cook.

RP: And you lived on that particular farm?

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: Who was the owner that you mentioned? Do you know his name?

TH: I believe the name was Sato, I don't know what first name they went by but that lasted only about a year also. So '34 we moved to Oxnard, and '35 we moved to Venice, and in '36 we moved to West Covina. This was just only three years or so, two or three years, we came back to farming on our own again.

RP: In an area that was fairly close to the original farm?

TH: Uh-huh. West Covina and... we were about eight miles east of where we were.

RP: And your father was able to reestablish himself.

TH: Uh-huh, well, the family grew up so he had more helping hands. It was a family enterprise then and then when we did need help to plant cauliflower, it was an early morning thing, the neighbors came to help. When they needed help, we exchange out that way.

RP: That's interesting. You kind of worked an exchange, was bartering an important part of farm life as well?

TH: Yes, it was. If you couldn't depend on your neighbors and you were a loner, then you worked all day. I remember some people being loners. They didn't want to participate or what, I don't know, but maybe they had no friends. But that's what friends are for is to help each other out, right? That's what happened to a lot of... it happened after World War II, we did the same thing, we helped each other out.

RP: Cooperation?

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: How about bartering of produce, "I'll give you 200 eggs for a couple crates of cantaloupes?"

TH: Uh-huh, that happened also. I remember the guy that shoed your horse, he'd come around, farm horses didn't have shoes on but they had to have their hoofs trimmed. You looked behind his back of his rumble seat, or behind his trunk, it's loaded with produce. But the hoof trimming wasn't that expensive, it was something like he would charge maybe, at the most, four or five dollars. The farmer usually had that kind of money but I think when he was short a little bit, he would extra produce in. Then that would be good for the horse shoer because he could trade that for eggs or something. So it was a bartering system was still prevalent years ago in the farm community.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

RP: So where did you attend high school?

TH: The first year, before Pearl Harbor, I was a freshman at Covina High School. We started in September, as a freshman, and so December 7th came and Pearl Harbor, we still continued to go to high school 'til about Easter of 1942. During that time, it was sort of hard to go to school because you're a focal of attention. I think I wrote in the paper, we used to debate in the general science class about what's going to happen to me and stuff. And the debates were pretty strong. That's where this science teacher told me that it was sort sentimental for him because he of German descent in World War I, he was born in the early 1900s.

RP: Did he express some...

TH: He sort of sympathized with what I was going through.

RP: Can you give us a little more flavor of the debate? You were talking about debating what was going to happen to you.

TH: There was a girl that sort of stuck up for me, and she says, "He's an American, he's not the enemy." They knew what was going on, that citizens are not crucified as the enemy, and so the hatred that the media probably stirred it up more. They made it interesting reading and the people took sides. So if you go back in history, today whoever gets the attention is the enemy really. If you belong to, if you are descendants of that enemy, you're also part of them, you're not part of America, that's the way even today I get still criticized as being from Japan. The people don't associate you with being a citizen. They look at your face and say you're still Japanese.


TH: Today you think back, and it's sort of like a fairy tale that we did have to get forced to leave, but it did happen and I think it was... it was General DeWitt saying that, "Once a Jap, always a Jap." Something like that doesn't help the situation. I wished at that time that more other nationalities had come to the rescue, or debated against them, or, but it never happened but there were some kind people, like I remember real distinctly, Ted and Hazel Roberts that owned a dairy in West Covina, they did everything they could to not prevent us to go.

RP: Like what? Do you remember specific things?

TH: Well, this couple owned a dairy and they didn't have any children. I don't know how it happened but, Mrs. Hazel Roberts became friends of the Japanese people and then she started to get to know, I guess it might have been through the dairy, I don't know, but she befriended the Japanese girls and she started like a Girl Scouts. But she called it the Cherry Blossom Girls Reserve. And the reason probably she wanted to help was the older Niseis that were started to go to high school and stuff didn't know anything about their menstruation, periods and stuff, and their Issei mothers would never coach them, teach them different things. This became a must if you were a Japanese girl, you were asked to join them. Those that refused, there was no hard feelings then. She combed the area and both of my sisters were members of the Cherry Blossom Girls Reserve. After we came back from the camps, we did honor them. All the Niseis got together and we were even on TV because of this gesture that we did to honor them. But they later on continued to help the Japanese people and Ted and Hazel Roberts, later on moved to Carlsbad, California, along the coast. They were instrumental in helping the families in Okinawa. They sent goats here from America to Okinawa. So throughout their life, they did help us quite a bit.

RP: Did they have a religious affiliation as well?

TH: That I can't remember today. If I say I remember, I don't have any confidence in saying that.

RP: What I was thinking about was the possibility that they were maybe Quakers or other people that would have, by the fact of their conscience, have more tendency to speak out and support.

TH: Oh. This happened before the war though. They were friends of the Japanese community way before the war.

RP: Were there any other people like the Roberts that you recall who sort of took you into the community?

TH: Well, I think this Charles Kranz was friends of the Japanese people and they did all they could to help out, or hardships and stuff. They didn't back down because we were of Japanese ancestry. He taught us as a school teacher and he was also the athletic coach of all the sports. He also, because of the smallness of the school, he was also a bus driver. He bused us to and from school. On top of that, I would've never gone to a baseball game or a basketball game, he was a graduate of Whittier College, this Mr. Kranz, he had family also but I remember going by car or by bus to basketball games and other sports. I think we even went to the L.A. Angels when they were in Los Angeles and we sat in a place called the "Knothole Gang," a special, a bunch of kids. That was real good.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

RP: You were roughly fourteen and a half, almost fifteen years old, when the war broke out? You were the oldest son, were you expected to take on more responsibilities and what role did you play when you finally realized... when the notice came down that you were going to be removed from your community? What responsibilities did you take on in terms of preparation to go to Pomona?

TH: Well, we thought we were going to go to Manzanar. There was talk that, this was maybe March of 1942, I think they were probably building the barracks in Manzanar after, what was it, (9066), the bill was signed by President Roosevelt and that was something to look forward to, when that news came out. I think as the oldest son, I did help my dad. But we got all that prepared, like a canvas top, to shed off the rain, we prepared our trucks like that. We did have a Model A one ton truck.

RP: You had crops in the ground?

TH: Yes.

RP: You are preparing to work them and eventually harvest them. What arrangements were made in terms of the farming operation before you ended up leaving?

TH: The name of the person that bought the farm was named Cornelius. The last name was called Cornelius, and he was from like Arcadia. He bought our farm and he refused to pay. It was supposed to be like he didn't have the money so he was going to pay it after the crops were harvested. I remember that, like I was talking to you earlier that, we tried to collect but there was no way we could collect from him.

RP: How much money?

TH: It was nine hundred dollars. I think we had a buy and sell agreement but it wasn't enforceable that much. I think we didn't have an attorney draw it up or anything, I think it was just a regular sheet of paper, regular handwritten buy and sell agreement.

RP: The nine hundred dollars covered the crops in the ground and what else?

TH: I think the horse, we had a horse, and the cultivators and the tractor... Model T pickup that we owned... and the harnesses and all the loose items. The rest of the items, some of the items, people used to come, drive in and give you fifty cents for that vise... the big vise that you needed if you're farming, you need a vise like that. I think I got fifty cents for a big vise, that it costs a few dollars to buy back.

RP: This gentleman, Cornelius, you mentioned that he had to go to a government office, or the government got involved in trying to push him to pay you?

TH: Yeah, I think it was when we were still at Pomona Assembly Center, is when we took a last ditch effort to try to collect the money and we had help from some of the older Niseis to help support this. And he was called in and they had a hearing but he still refused to pay. I guess the law was, I don't know what happened but the law didn't kick in.

RP: You also mentioned that he really didn't know much about farming?

TH: I beg your pardon?

RP: You mentioned that he didn't really know much about farming?

TH: Yeah, that's right. He was probably one of those wishful thinkers, that, "I'm going to do it this way and that way."

RP: He actually attempted to run the farm while you were --

TH: No, I don't remember. I think we almost worked to the last day to help him out. And we did continue to irrigate so the farm would be, the crops would be growing. I don't know if we hoed too many weeds after we sold it, but we did other things to keep it going. It was only a nine acre field.

RP: After you came back from camp, you attempted to recoup some of your losses. Can you share with us how you went about doing that?

TH: It so happened my mother didn't throw too many papers away before the war. And so she took some of those papers to camp with us. When we came back we had some receipts as to what we had bought or, we had some receipts, so I took my dad to Los Angeles on First Street and we went to a Japanese attorney and we were doing a, something like a War Relocation Act where the federal government was supposed to pay us back some money to bring up your farm to the present, which would be about 1949 or that era. My dad submitted a claim for 35,000 dollars, which was to replenish what he lost during the time of war. And we kept hoping and hoping that we were going to collect. That was his big goal was to receive that, and he even told my sister that, the oldest sister, that if he ever got that claim, he would share it with her. We did get that after a length of time but we settled for ten percent which was around 3,000 dollars. When that came, my dad endorsed the check and I deposited in our family farm fund.

RP: It helped a little bit?

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: Do you feel like there was justice had been done to some extent?

TH: Well, I think by the time we got it, we kept farming and we were lucky that our efforts were rewarded. I was like I never thought that I can make so much money so quick.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

RP: Can you share with us some of your emotions when you learned that you and your family were to be excluded from the Covina area? How initially in your gut, how did you feel?

TH: Well, when you're that age, I don't think emotionally you're not hit that hard. Fourteen, fifteen, it's more or less a challenge. If you are going to go, you're going to go and you're going to make the best of it. And so even today, filling out that sheet of paper, I keep thinking that I didn't lose a heck of a lot because I didn't own anything. But if it happened today, I would really lose a whole bunch. But at that time it was my dad that took the brunt, and my mother. They worked most of their lives to get up to that point, and the economy and everything, the crops and everything were paying off a lot better at 1940s, '40, '41. The economy was doing a lot better and our neighbors were buying new tractors and new cars. The 1937 Chevrolets and stuff were being gobbled up. New Ford trucks were being bought. We were about ready to buy a new Ford Ferguson tractor.

RP: And it all changed. You were able to drive the family car into Pomona? What did you take with you?

TH: Mostly clothes and bedding, like blankets. We didn't know exactly where we were going to go but if we were going to go to Manzanar for sure, you need blankets and... we had, like my dad had a thick overcoat that he bought when times were good... clothes like that was all taken. That coat was even used as a part of the bedding for our family. We took some pots and pans, knowing that because we had, a lot of people just had suitcases and a duffle bag but being that I took the car, we were able to shove a lot more things in the back seat area.

RP: What did Pomona Assembly look like through the eyes of a fourteen and a half year old?

TH: As kids we went to the fairgrounds. It was really amazing to see all those barracks put up so quick. Part of the fairgrounds were toward the west side where La Verne Airport is, Brackett Field they called it, that was part of the athletic field later on. We had movies, the outdoor movies, after the sun went down, played a lot of softball. It was maybe a start of a vacation. You got to meet a lot of people but the part that hurt the most was being inoculated for typhoid and diphtheria, all of those were done by blunt needles and sterilized with either a candle or no, it was actually a alcohol flame. They'd wipe the needle and heat it up and then wipe it again and then shoot it in you. [Laughs] They kept doing it, I don't know how times they used the same needle.

RP: So that arm was a little sore?

TH: Yeah, it was. [Laughs]

RP: Were there guard towers at Pomona?

TH: Yes, there were. It looked like a prisoner of war camp. They had floodlights that they can move around. I think the sentry was a lot heavier in Pomona than it was in Heart Mountain. Over here you can get away and hide, where out in Heart Mountain it was a wide open spaces and you couldn't get very far. Where over here you could have friends come pick you up and you can... I understand that people in Santa Anita, some way went through a drainage ditch and they went to a movie or something. There were stories like that being told at these reunions and stuff.

RP: Did you say that you had visited the Pomona fairgrounds as a kid growing up?

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: For the county fair?

TH: For the county fair.

RP: Ironically here you are and you can't leave? When you go back as somebody who's being detained there.

TH: Uh-huh, that's one of the areas... Santa Anita race track has a plaque that says that it was used as an assembly center. No one from this area wanted to push the issue to have a plaque at the Pomona fairgrounds.

RP: So there's still no --

TH: Nothing. No recognition or acknowledgement of that being used as a detention center, nothing. But I understood later, after we left, that was a detention center for German prisoners, like a PW camp.

RP: Like you thought it felt like a PW camp. And it became one.

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: Or it was one for you too. Were you visited by any teachers or Caucasian friends that you had?

TH: While I was at camp, my landlord, or school teacher, bus driver, coach, he came with his family to visit us just about every week. I think every weekend for a while he showed up. One thing, people that you associate, they have no prejudice against you, they didn't care what people said or thought. They just were themselves. That's the kind of people that you could trust and stuff. I came back and have been associated with this family. They came to my wedding, this Charles Kranz, and I've been to their kids' weddings. They came to my parents' funeral... I went to their funerals when they passed away. It was a lasting relationship, from people that did you good. But this Mrs. Kranz, even when I was fifty or sixty years old, I helped her out at her own home. I planted cauliflower or cabbage plants that I grew at the barn I was telling you about. I would take some of these plants and plant it in her backyard and they would produce if it was a wet year like this year. She never said thanks to me one time and I think that the reason for this is that she knew that family did more than I ever paid her back. Her gesture was more than I could get a thank you for. I believe that too, one of these days I want to go and talk to her daughter... who were schoolmates, we went to the same school. I want to tell her that, "Your mother never thanked me for what I did because I think I still owe her." When I first came back from the camp, I got to stay in the attic portion of our garage, that's where we moved back to and she would go up there and gather up my clothes and she would wash them for me. And she would have them dried out and she did a lot of stuff like that. Before the war, I made her a victory garden, I took my equipment, I plowed the field and I dug out the Bermuda grass, got rid of that for her, and I made her a real good garden that she could grow. And once she'd get it established, all she has to do is replant seeds and stuff.

RP: That's a great story.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

RP: Did you know when you were put on the train where you were going to end up when you left Pomona?

TH: I think there was rumors as to where we were going but we did get on some old dilapidated dusty coach cars that was used for transporting us to different camps. I don't remember having the shades pulled down all the time but I know that that was the first train ride in my life. I was sort of enthused about taking a trip on by train. We went through the southern route and whether it was Union Pacific or Southern Pacific, I don't know, I don't remember that part. We went toward El Paso, we went through Yuma, over the Colorado River, before then we went through Palm Springs, in Inyo. We kept going south and we had to pull off sometimes in a side track to let an express go by, there was a lot of that. It was waiting and anticipating to get to Heart Mountain. Everybody wants to get there. I found out that in the olden days if you went to the take a crap, that there is no holding tank. When we pulled into these stations, like whereever the train had to stop, you had to go and you'd leave a mark there on the station. [Laughs] If you're at the right location, if you're at the tail end you probably go on the gravel but where it's all paved, some people went and...

RP: It was kind of a, it was just a continuous train ride, you didn't really stop overnight or anything?

TH: No, you couldn't sleep. You slept because you got tired. Then we got to El Paso, that was the furthest south and I think east that we went and then we went up through maybe, it was New Mexico, or I don't remember but, we went through Colorado and we stayed over in Denver, Colorado. Prior to getting to Denver, I think we were in the dining car, and then this colored waiter is pointing to Pikes Peak. I kept looking but I just couldn't picture Pikes Peak. By the time I was starting to look for it, we went by it already. What I remember, I'm pretty sure that when we had to eat, at least they fed us. It was no box lunch, it was in a dining car, white tablecloths and the works like that part there, the train looked sort of modern.

RP: The rest of it was antique?

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: Do you remember soldiers in the cars too?

TH: Yeah, MPs, they had armbands and stuff.

RP: And rifles?

TH: Yeah, rifles.

RP: So you weren't allowed to go from, sort of car hopping were you?

TH: No.

RP: You had to stay in your own car?

TH: Right.

RP: Unless you went to a meal.

TH: Right.

RP: Normally kids would want to just up and start running up and down the train.

TH: Yeah. But I think... I'm pretty sure that we stopped to let us stretch our legs. I'm pretty sure that they did that. That's when I saw the soldiers line up to make sure that nobody took off.

RP: You were actually allowed to go out of the train?

TH: Off in a deserted area.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

RP: So on this train trip and when you first got to Heart Mountain, do you have any expectations about what this place might look like or what you wanted it to look like?

TH: That was something that you're anticipating. It all looks the same, it's just what area are you, where are you going to end up.

RP: Where did you end up in the camp, what block?

TH: Block 20 which would be the northwest corner.

RP: Can you describe how the blocks were laid out at Heart Mountain?

TH: Yeah, I think it was more than a square mile, I believe, one, two and they had built it bigger but they had some empty blocks. It was good that they had some that were sort of empty because if there were a big fire or something, you had to run to a firebreak or something. I think Manzanar had a big open area up in front by 395, there was an open area, too.

RP: You had a fair sized family, your mom and dad and yourself, two sisters, and did you have younger brothers yet?

TH: Yeah, two younger brothers.

RP: Like a family of seven. Originally at Manzanar all the rooms were twenty by twenty five, at Heart Mountain they were set up according to the size of the family.

TH: I think the barracks are similar, there were was A, which only held about three, three or four. Then unit B, that we lived in, was like twenty by twenty five. Then there was a C and D that was the same, that was the two middle barracks, and then the same thing on E and F.

RP: So six rooms in each barrack?

TH: Yeah. Then you could hear whatever somebody is whispering, your hearing is better when you're younger, so you could hear what they're talking about. When we first got to Heart Mountain, there was no ceiling, there were just the roof. Later on they brought in celotex, like four by eight plywood, and you could either turn the white side down or the brown side down, so you had a choice, but no insulation on top.

RP: Did you ever have partitions where your space was partitioned into smaller rooms?

TH: You did that with blankets or --

RP: But never any walls?

TH: No, we didn't do anything like that although some people that were carpenters or they had access to materials, they did it better. I see some pictures that people wanted to make their home livable so they put a lot of effort into it. I myself built a chest of drawers and a table, chairs. We went to an area where we had all the building leftovers, cement coated one by twelves and stuff. All the trash, we fished stuff out of there.

RP: You recycled it into furniture?

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: You mentioned the celotex, do you remember any other changes in your barrack room during the time that you were at Heart Mountain? Did you acquire any additional furniture or order things from the Sears and Roebuck catalog that you might have put in your room?

TH: No, you couldn't even take a radio to camp with you. I think later on we had this Charles Kranz ship that small radio that we had because we stored a lot of stuff in his attic, some of the mechanics hand tools, wrenches and stuff, he sent some stuff that I wanted. But you can also order saws and stuff from Sears and Roebuck or Montgomery Ward.

RP: So your two older sisters found jobs at the hospital?

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: In Heart Mountain? What did they do there?

TH: My older sister, because she had experience working in the mess hall, handling food, so she got a job as a dietitian. Her uniform was pink striped or something anyway, if you're a nurse's aide you had different colored gowns or uniforms.

RP: And your other sister was a nurse's aide?

TH: Yeah.

RP: As a result of her experience at the camp, she went on to become an RN?

TH: Yes.

RP: Where?

TH: In Marshalltown, Iowa. There's a town I went and visited in the year, about year 2000 or 2001. Because I was in Iowa, and my sister had trained to become an army cadet nurse during World War II, that I wanted to go see where she was trained. And it was in the old part of Marshalltown in the year 2001, the city moved near the freeway I guess. But the hospital was still there and according to my sister, a lot of Native Americans gave birth and stuff and that's where they got their practice on healthcare, sort of like a government operated hospital since Native Americans used it and probably the other local people, too.

RP: Were you aware of any effects or impacts of any evacuation in camp like had on your two sisters? How did they feel about what was happening?

TH: Well, I don't know. I wasn't a... if I was a female, I'd probably have a little bit more feeling. But I feel that while my older sister got married in camp, she met the other people of the opposite sex. Where if she stayed, there was no war, maybe my oldest sister might have gotten married by intermediary, baishakunin, might have been that way but she found her mate there in camp. And so that sort of helped. My other sister that became a nurse had a boyfriend. It was a normal everyday existence. I don't know if there was any impact outside of that.

RP: A positive impact?

TH: Yeah.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: What was school like at Heart Mountain, Ted?

TH: You asked me that question and I'll tell you that I was sort of like an A student when I was a freshman at Covina High School, and I studied to make that grade but when I went to camp and we had no textbooks, the teacher lectured. And the hardest part about how I experienced geometry, without a book, you have to learn the axioms and the prepositions and stuff like this and I'm a slow learner, but once I catch on it's okay. But I had a real tough time being a geometry student. You gotta have a book and read it once, and then you don't understand, you read it a second time you some more meaning, and the third time you sort of start to understand it. You didn't get that when you're a student at Heart Mountain. The teacher had the book and you had to learn from what she tells you and that didn't work too keen. Same thing in, I took chemistry, too, to try to go to college and stuff, college prep stuff, and I flunked chemistry. I remember not wetting the tube to shove through the cork, you're supposed to wet it so it'll be lubricated and here I'm pushing it in dry and that tube broke so the teacher, Japanese teacher, he had to come and clean it up and tape it up, it bled pretty good.

RP: Were your teachers primarily Caucasian?

TH: They were mostly Caucasians but there were a sprinkling of Japanese teachers also.

RP: Was there any particular teacher that stood out in your mind that made a little more of an effort to reach the kids and make learning interesting?

TH: There was one. Her name was Mary Pagano, and she was, I guess, she got along with the female group real well although I think she got along with pretty much everybody. I met her one time at reunion but I didn't open my mouth. She was my English teacher and I was a poor student. I did pretty good, I knew what a valedictorian and a salutatorian was before I went to high school because a good friend of our family, we went to a commencement exercise about 1939 and he was the salutatorian. And so because I knew these two words, I even told my kids while they were going to grammar school that at least they knew what these words meant. And so I tried to be a scholar but when you compete against other Japanese kids, you just don't make the grades because of what you can make, maybe in outside schools is poor grade like a D or a C. The competition is terrific.

RP: Did you attend school in barracks?

TH: Yes, yes. The first two winters I think we were still going to, while the new high school was being built, we were going to barracks, and the benches, instead of chairs, no backrest. It was sort of hard to concentrate when you have no book and you try to do homework and then your friends say to you, "Come on, let's go shoot some baskets." You're not disciplined like you would in the regular school. Our favorite place to hang out was in the boiler area where this big steel tank was covered in asbestos. The sides of the buildings where the flames were the hottest had asbestos nailed onto the walls. We used to stand against the asbestos and then if you happened to squat down your pea coat got all, or what you were wearing got full of asbestos then us kids used to brush off, and then the asbestos was flying around we must have got some into our nostrils and stuff like this. They talk about asbestos being poisonous but even in our barrack where the coal burning stove was, it was all asbestos, that loose flaky stuff. If my mom went to get a broom and knock some of the cobwebs down that were there that asbestos would be flying around. They advertise over television today that if you're ever around asbestos, like a mechanic blowing brake drums and brake lining, that you could be entitled to some money. That's a bunch of baloney when we were exposed to all this asbestos. It was warm there, snow could be on the ground, but that boiler room was a favorite spot of the young people.

RP: Talk about the winters that you experienced there and just the cold and you're coming from a relatively mild climate in Southern California, then you're dealing with pretty harsh winters. How did, you mentioned the pea coats --

TH: That was World War I navy, I think, pea coats, I guess they had it in storage and they're made out of wool. They handed those out to whoever needed them. The clever people, they retailored them and then they put the stitches in the collars and marked the names on it. They all looked the same. They became a fad to fix, some tailored it, so it wouldn't be so long. But it was good for us, we just took the sleeves and just turned it inside in, turned them inside the sleeves and we wore it that way.

RP: How did you heat your rooms at Heart Mountain?

TH: Coal. If you didn't get out early enough, get up when the coal truck came and carried some coal, you'd have to go and get the crumbs, the crumbs of the coal, it's all loose and it's real hard to put in.

RP: First come, first served. Did you have to go out and get coal?

TH: Yeah, if I didn't then my mother would have to do it, so I helped as much as I could. My mother had, my kid brother was just about one years old when he went into camp and so she had to spend a lot of time with him.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

RP: What other responsibilities did you have similar to that, chores or things that you had to do?

TH: Not too much. When the dinner or the mess hall bell rang you just go on your own. It sort of split. There was no discipline anymore, if my dad wanted to tell me something, I'd tell him, "Ah, go on, forget it." There was no family discipline unless that father or that family was regimented real good, there were some families that came and sat together and ate together and they watched out for each other, where we were just running around all over.

RP: You were independent and kind of wild?

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: Out of control?

TH: Yeah, that was one of the bad things about being living in the camp, where you're a teenager and you tend to smoke cigarettes and anything. There was not too much liquor but the bachelors were brewing it in their own barracks. There were always room for sake, you could go buy sake in camp and they would know where the best sake was. That was the older people.

RP: Did you drink sake on occasion there?

TH: Not me. I smoked a little bit in camp and I became a smoker after I got out of camp.

RP: That was the first time you smoked was in camp?

TH: Uh-huh. When you draw on your cigarette you get sort of light headed, little tipsy.

RP: A buzz, huh?

TH: Yeah, then you get accustomed to it and your lungs get full of nicotine and stuff. It's not as effective anymore.

RP: How about, did you play sports in camp? Were you inclined for sports?

TH: I love football but I was too small. I think I was, as a senior in high school, weighed 110 pounds. I just couldn't gain weight as much as I ate but I could probably refer back to when you have too much nervous energy, you eat but you can't put on any weight. Then I became friends with a person that had some weights and they came from Tule Lake, in the exchange group, they came into our block. We didn't go to his house to lift weights, but we got a room in the local rec hall and we sort of stored the weights over there, nobody took them or anything. I started working out, and in three months' time, I gained twenty pounds. From 110 I went to 130 and I kept working out more and I gained to about 135 and it was all muscle. I was eighteen years old, you're lifting weights, then you're not scared of anybody. [Laughs] Anybody wants to pick on you or something, you remember the old Charles Atlas ad behind the magazines? I felt like that. I played sports, I caught softball and some of the people that I played with, they remember me from being a pretty good catcher and it's all because you have more confidence in you're bulked out, so somebody wants to fight you, you want to fight them, that's okay.

RP: Were there bullies in camp like that?

TH: Huh?

RP: Did you have bullies or groups that some people might refer to as gangs that --

TH: Yeah, there were gangs. But when you're raised in the country, you don't believe in gangs. West Covina used to be a rural area. They had to band together and they came from Los Angeles or some city where they lived in close quarters. If you picked on one guy, look out, you have to fight ten more times because you might have won on the first fight but you lose all the other times. [Laughs]


RP: This is tape three of a continuing interview with Ted Hamachi. And Ted, we were just talking about the relationships that you had in camp and there were some of these guys from the city, sometimes would band together in gangs. You had a special term for those guys.

TH: Yeah. I meet the same people today but they don't admit that they were yogores, they were classified as yogores in camp. Individually they were good people, but when they banded together they became more like animals. That gave them a lot of security I believe.

RP: Was there a strong division that existed between the farming group, or the rural people, versus the city dwellers? Or did you tend to stick with your own kind in camp?

TH: It could be. They had different sports team. The ones that were from the country, even San Jose or out in the country rural, their style of life was a little bit different. The ones that lived in cities, they're more like "zoot suiters," long peg pants. Where the country people took kendo or judo and they were sort of self-confident themselves, I thought they could stand up -- I might get in trouble by saying what I'm saying -- but still that's the truth. I'm telling how it was, I think. I think martial arts gives a lot of people, today even, other nationalities, ethnic people, gain a lot of confidence in martial arts, like karate and judo.

RP: You had taken some kendo growing up, hadn't you?

TH: Yes. I just started having eye problems, but I know other friends that have taken kendo, even today their eyes are sharp, they're older than I am, they drive around without glasses. They only use glasses just to read.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

RP: You mentioned this exchange between Heart Mountain and Tule Lake, for people that left to go to Tule Lake, to make room for those people, people at Tule Lake were moved out to various camps including Heart Mountain. Your father had a lot of friends that ended up leaving for Tule Lake?

TH: My father had a neighbor that farmed close by. They would get together and they'd have an occasional sake. What they used to do is they used to go to one another house around just before dinnertime and they have a sake cocktail or something or a beer together. They were sort of buddies and then this friend says, "You better come along with us or you're going to miss out," because he believed that Japan's going to win the war. In camp they had, somebody had rigged up a shortwave. They used to go and they used to get invited to listen to what was going on. The old people got together and rehashed what they heard, it would become secondhand news but they still knew what was going on. And whether it was propaganda or not, I don't know but my dad wanted to go to Tule Lake. And then I objected and I think I got away by "no-no" or 26 or 27, those number questions? I put one "yes" and one "no" and I don't know which one I answered yes or no but I didn't go "no-no" I went "no-yes" or "yes-no." I told my dad that, "You guys can go and I'll be okay, I'll just move into the bachelor's quarters, just leave some towels and little bit of money and I can get by."

RP: What did he say?

TH: Well, he must have talked to people he knew, so a friend that I knew the parent, the parent came and asked me, "What's your reason, how come you don't want to go with your dad?" So the story got around a little bit that he wanted to go. But I said no, I don't want to go back to Japan. And did you know that this friend that influenced my dad to go, he did go back to Japan, to Kumamoto, Japan, and he had a real hard time and he finally made it back to America and I don't know, maybe, I forgot what year, but it was quite a number of years later. They went almost through starvation and stuff because it was hard for them to come back and recoup what they lost.

RP: That was a pretty strong stand for you to take, especially the father being the authority figure in the family and what he says goes usually.

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: Did he change his mind eventually?

TH: Yeah, he did. If I didn't go he didn't go. My mother had nothing to say to me or anything. She didn't influence one way or another, she didn't say, let's go, let's go or anything. It was my dad that... one thing about between the relationship between my dad and I was that he was from the old school of hard knocks. When we were kids he used to beat us on the noggin, he used to come down hard for discipline purposes. When we got into Pomona, he came at me one evening, I was sitting on my cot and it was filled with straw, and he came at me I leaned back and I was waiting for him to lunge at me and I just straightened out my legs and he went flipping over backwards. From that day on, he tried to reason with me, he never came, or attempted to smack me anymore because he met his challenger. I didn't want to get beat up no more.

RP: Heart Mountain was the center of the largest draft resistance movement in United States history. What do you remember, if anything, about young men who refused to go to their induction because their constitutional rights had been violated, being put in camps, that was their attitude about it? You were getting close to that age?

TH: Yeah, I remember the meetings. I was just too young not to go, be able to attend the meetings. I had sort of mixed feelings. They would go sign up for the army if their constitutional rights were restored, and that was a real big issue that if they became whole citizens again, they would gladly sign up. But then that didn't happen so they all went, some went to Leavenworth, the other went to McNeil Island in Washington. I don't know but those are the two places. And I knew Frank Emi, he was a judo instructor. That really didn't have any bearing as to, because he didn't go at all, he was a married person and he was just a person that has an idea and that was good reasoning. But did you know that if you were on the true draft resisters' side all this time and it was just recently, maybe ten years ago, they sort of got liberated because finally the JACL apologized to the draft resisters and they whole cookie crumbled, there was no more hard feelings except the guys that went to the army and they thought they got the short end of the stick. Even though you were a war resister, the army resister, I know some that went to McNeil Island and he got electrocuted. It was a tragedy there too. That didn't really guarantee that you resisted the draft, that you were going to be scot free. So it was like somebody that survived, he said that he was an electrician, in the prison, and this electrical box wasn't even charged at all, the electricity was cut off in the box, and he was going to come home so he was instructing another inmate how to run it and he went and did something and he got electrocuted by not having gloves and the right equipment. So somebody was after him or something, I don't know, but it's stories like that.

RP: There were a lot of discussions and meetings and a lot of soul searching about these kinds of things.

TH: I think the history of the federal courts building in Cheyenne, Wyoming, it was the biggest case they ever tried, was these war resisters, like forty something, or fifty something of 'em. I wasn't ignorant of it, I just wasn't of age yet. I don't know which way I... I'm sitting on the fence myself today. The 442nd, they established precedence as who we were, and these others, they set up a precedent what they believed. It depend on your own true belief is but I would have liked to gone to Europe and fought. We lost a good family friend that went to the war.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

RP: Do you remember the day you left Heart Mountain?

TH: Yeah.

RP: What was that like?

TH: Like you're liberated. You walk out of San Quentin or something like that, you got out of prison. I never experienced walking out of San Quentin but I feel that it's sort of the same, the prisoner would feel the same.

RP: Where did you come back to? Did you first go out yourself?

TH: Uh-huh.

RP: Where did you go?

TH: I went to the Evergreen (Hostel) on Euclid Street in LA and I think I stayed one or two nights there. Then this friend that lives on 35th Street, or 35th Place, came and picked me up. I helped him doing gardening work, he came out earlier and he was sort of established himself as a gardener and so at that time he had a push mower. He was cutting people's lawns and stuff. I tagged along and helped. One day he brought me to the Kranz family, and I came back and it was like, "Oh, hi, haven't seen you in a long time." It was good greetings, there was no ill feelings at all. And so I talked to the farm tenant that was farming, and I think from then I stayed at, I don't remember exactly but I think I brought my clothes and I knew where I could stay above in the loft. So when you got out of camp, you had nothing, no baggies, no nothing outside of maybe one suitcase. Everything you own is in that suitcase. I got a job right away so I was able to write a letter to my mother and I used the Japanese alphabet and I was able to converse, write a communicative letter.

RP: And you were able to encourage them to come out?

TH: Uh-huh, yeah.

RP: Did they come back to the property as well?

TH: Yeah, from I think the railroad station in Los Angeles, they got some kind of a ride over to West Covina. I don't know how they came but I didn't go after them I don't think.

RP: You eventually were farming there?

TH: We started farming again.

RP: Did you ever own that land?

TH: No. But in 1951 I made enough money to buy a ten acre piece of ground right by there. I asked my mother, "What do you think?" and she went back a few years and said something like, "After World War I, there was an economic boom, and there will be probably be the same after World War II, history repeating itself." So she says, "Let's hang on to the money." I said okay, it didn't matter, we had a partnership because we farmed together. My dad was around but he was unable physically do any farm work or anything because his legs, he had a balance disorder, and that balance disorder, all in my family, all the siblings have it except me. It's something that came from Japan, a genetic thing, that it affects your legs and here my kid brother is fourteen years younger than I was, he used run four miles after work every day because he got divorced and he had to release some energy. He ran four miles every day. There's a place called Miles Square in Orange County, he ran a mile each tangent and so today he's, he was a bicycle enthusiast, he's fourteen years younger now and he rides a tricycle, the three wheel bike. He tilts when he walks, gets out of his pickup, he has a styrofoam hat so he won't fall and hurt his head.

RP: You farmed for a while, then you shifted careers, kept your hands in the dirt but --

TH: It so happened that, I was sort of fortunate that I continued to take off where my dad left off. He was something like fifty-five, no when we came back in '45, he was like fifty-seven years old. He didn't have the energy to lease the ground, so I took his place and my mother was still about in her mid-forties. So it was a mother and son effort and when I didn't wake up in the morning, she was out in the field working already. If I played all night, I couldn't get up in the morning. Later on, the partnership made money because she looked after the field and the orchard and I took care of the business so it came out good. We used "wetback" labor, illegal immigrants, later on we needed help so we expanded the field gradually. So when 1951 came around we were farming enough acreage that we were able to save. I had friends that also made money but they were like a four way partnership, so what they got was one-fourth, where the amount of money that my mother and I made was still in one pool.

RP: Where you also growing cantaloupes at that time still?

TH: Yeah, in the summer we made more money on cole crops, cauliflower, and this area is known to grow hard heads of cauliflower. We used to ship it from here to Modesto. We had an organization called the Snowball Cauliflower Growers Association, and I happened to be the youngest grower. This Hurst ranch I was telling you about, he was the president of this Cauliflower Growers Association, in 1974 he asked me to join his group of elite friends that he went to USC, college with and people that were like bankers or CPAs, I joined his group. I was there for a purpose and that was to grow vegetables in his plot of ground that's left over there. And for thirty six years I'm still there. It's a continuation from the invitation. I had accumulated some equipment to continue... I wanted to try growing some crops again... and he told me, he says, "If you want, just stay here and just till this soil, that's enough to monkey around, farming." I'm still doing it today for the last thirty-six years.

RP: How did you end up getting into the landscape business after you're a farmer?

TH: A farmer? Well, as you know, I owned tractors, and so part of landscaping is you have to relevel or break up the soil, so the machinery work was no problem, it was just learning how much seed per thousand square feet and that was all through experience. The part about being a gardener is you have knowledge of farm basics so you had help problems, so it's a related field, agriculture and landscaping is sort of related. The busier it gets, the more labor you need. You don't worry about tomorrow, if it's going to rain or snow, you gotta take care of things today. In farming it's the same way, if today's the day to irrigate, you gotta irrigate. You can't do it next week.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

RP: We're at the community center here. When did you get involved with this facility?

TH: It was because I guess I was still a single man when I joined the community. I went fishing, a farm group of guys got invited to go fishing from a fertilizer company, so I got to know all these farmers. And these farmers were part of this Japanese community, they were the leaders. They didn't object for me to being with them so I stuck around. I got a lot of good points on how to farm and stuff like this. As their turn finished leading the community, my kids were starting to grow, and I wanted to take my turn too. I threw in my sort of hat and I bellyached about some issues and I got elected to become the leader. Some of my ideas worked. That's okay, everybody gets his turn if he wants to here.

RP: We talked about this partial, I guess you could call it partial redress that you received a few years after the war, the 3,000 dollar payment. About twenty years after that, this larger redress and reparations effort was underway, spearheaded by the Japanese American community. Did you have any involvement, did you attend hearings?

TH: My wife and I went to Los Angeles and I think it was some of the county court buildings or it was a pretty big auditorium anyway, and they had these government people listening on and they were taking notes and stuff on what was being said. I told you earlier that if I had to, I would try to testify in my own behalf, but there were older people that had lost monetary possessions and stuff before the war. It could have been in real estate also. They were the big losers and here I hadn't lost anything. It was my parents that lost. I was interested in getting it and after I received it, I was sort of elated that finally some justice was done but when you think about it, it comes out to like 2,000 dollars prior to December 7th, might have been 2,000 that came out to be 20,000, the total amount was 20,000 dollar redress. In prewar or right after World War II when we got kicked out of here, it was like equivalent to 2,000.

RP: Have you been back to Heart Mountain to visit the place you lived for three years?

TH: Uh-huh. I wrote in that... it was a side trip that I took my kids to Yellowstone, we met another family that was a member of this community, and we met in the west part of Yellowstone. That time there, we left our camp and left our tents and stuff, but we took a one day trip to Heart Mountain. It took most of the day, by the time we came back it was dark. It wasn't like I left to come home, it was just a, oh, is this how it turned out. Is this where it was? It was not a elation, it was just a remembrance that wasn't too happy. I found the hole where the gymnasium was, and the only thing left was the cellar, or where the heating mechanism was. The vault was still there but outside of that, most of the camp area was all under cultivation.

RP: How did your kids respond to that visit?

TH: They were, they didn't know anything about what happened and they were still too young to realize. When we went back in '67, my eldest would be thirteen and then I have a twelve year old son, eleven year son. The two younger ones were sort of young yet, the fourth kid would have been seven years old. They didn't feel anything. They haven't gone to any of the reunions but maybe the next time, I'll invite them all to attend the reunion.

RP: One other question, the closer is, how do you reflect on your camp experience? Did it impact your life at all, shape your life at all?

TH: It's not a pleasant subject to talk about. It doesn't make me real happy or anything so I try not to because it's a tear jerker, even today. But I have this barn that you gotta go see, there's a member of this barn, his sister lives in Powell, Wyoming, which is about in between, it's east of the camp site. He knows about this camp site and stuff and he knows about the restoration of a couple barracks in the visitor center and stuff like this. And so he's sort of interested because he goes by there when he flies out of Cody, Wyoming and stuff like this. I should have brought it here but I have a pencil sketch that one of the camp members, I forget how old but, he drew a picture of Heart Mountain, the mountain and it's pencil and it's framed and I just got it a week or so ago. He said he took seventy two hours to sketch, to finish. It's titled, "Beyond the Horizon," and you should take a look at it because it has this picture of Heart Mountain but there is a horizon, he's sketched in the horizon also. And that has a lot of meaning to me, "Beyond the Horizon."

RP: Thank you, Ted.

TH: It's not a pleasant memory.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.