Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Ed Fujii Interview
Narrator: Ed Fujii
Interviewer: Masako Hinatsu
Location: Gresham, Oregon
Date: April 30, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-fed-01

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

<Begin Segment 1>

MH: This is an interview with Edward Harumi Fujii, a Nisei man, eighty years old, in his home in Gresham, Oregon. The interviewer is Masako Hinatsu with the oral history project 2003 of the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center. Ed, where were you born and the date that you were born?

EF: I was born right here in Gresham. The doctor was a Gresham doctor, so that's who brought us all in the world practically.

MH: And what year was that?

EF: 1923.

MH: Name your mother and father?

EF: My mother's name was Yoshino Yamakado and my father's name was Bukiichi Fujii.

MH: What did your father do?

EF: He was a farmer.

MH: Can you tell me a little bit about his life here in the United States?

EF: Yeah. My father was a very, for a Nisei, he was a very... he found his way around. I don't know, he spoke English, but, and he seemed like he knew enough of it to get by, so he was well-known in this area, Gresham, Sandy, and the East because he worked in the woods, like cutting logs and those kind of things, and that's how he survived and farmed here.

MH: Where is "here"?

EF: In Troutdale, and was very good at it. And to survive back in those days, you had to be very flexible in the farming. We had to raise cows, horses, pigs, chickens, and all those different animals too.

MH: Did you raise them to sell?

EF: No. We did not raise them to sell, but we had them around.

MH: For food?

EF: For food, eventually.

MH: How about your mother, what did she do?

EF: She was, my mother was just a housewife. She hardly spoke English, but she got around well for a small lady and was a big help as far as I'm concerned. She never complained about the hard times or any of that. She did a very good job as a mother.

MH: How many brothers and sisters did you have? Can you name them also?

EF: My oldest sister's name was Akiye and then came my brother Kaz, my sister Kimi, then myself, my brother Jack, my brother Jim, my brother Tom, and my youngest brother Tadato.

MH: What do you remember of your family life with your siblings and your mom and dad?

EF: Well, we all lived in the same house, and I thought we seemed like we survived well with what we had which wasn't very much, but we survived. We didn't live lavishly by no means, but got the basic foods that people of our ancestry survived on. And as far as I'm concerned, it seemed like a very comfortable atmosphere.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

MH: Did you speak English or did you speak Japanese in the home or both?

EF: We spoke both. We weren't that good at the Japanese, but we'd fill it in once in a while. My mother, we spoke to her nothing but Japanese, but my father could understand English. But we tried to speak Japanese, but among the family members, we all spoke English.

MH: What was the role of the boys in your family and the girls in your family?

EF: Well, the girls kind of worked around the house and helped Mother, but they had to get out to work too because that's the way it was.

MH: What do you mean they had to get out to work too?

EF: They had to help with the fieldwork also, and they were a big help. They were a big help. So since we were, all the boys were... well, farm work was never ending, always, especially when you had diversified farming as we did where you had cows and horses and chickens and those items, pigs for instance, very diversified.

MH: What kind of farm crops did you raise?

EF: Well, in, early in the spring, we used to have spinach was our first item. Then we had a patch of asparagus that was always there to harvest. And then we got into the berries, and then later down on the line the cabbage, cauliflower, and those items, broccoli. Brussels sprouts were the items we...

MH: Who helped you harvest besides the family?

EF: We had people that came to work on the farm like Filipinos for instance, and we had a few Japanese people that came to work on the farm because they had no other employment, and they were available for that work.

MH: Were they from the city?

EF: Yes. They were from here, right. And they were a very essential part of the farming because we needed them for the harvest.

MH: Do they live with you or...

EF: Most of them lived with us, lived on the farm, not with us, but there were, you know, we had a combination form. So we had housing for them, so they were able to cook and do things on their own.

MH: How about bathing?

EF: If you were, if you were Japanese, we had a bathhouse where they all went to, they all bathed in the bathhouse. Especially Japanese people, we facilitated all of them. We had a lot of Issei people working on the farm, so my folks made sure that they had those accommodations, and it seemed like it worked well. One bathhouse, but hey, they timed themselves well, and everybody had their bath every day, every night I should say.

MH: Who tended the bathhouse?

EF: My mother, my mother.

MH: Was it gas, was it wood?

EF: No, no. It was all wood. It was all wood, wood fire.

MH: And who built this bathhouse?

EF: Right. We built this bathhouse. My father built the bathhouse.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

MH: Did you go to Japanese school?

EF: Yes, we did.

MH: And where did you go?

EF: Gresham/Troutdale had a Japanese school right at the GT Hall. That's where the school was at.

MH: Tell me a little bit about GT Hall?

EF: Well, I should know something about it because I'm the one who helped the JACL president the year they decided... it got to be a problem due to the fact of the structure was starting to deteriorate, and I think we were only allowed to have six or seven people in that building at one time. So I think it was in 1965 that we tore that building down due to the fact we couldn't hold any functions there anymore. But in the meantime, this was an old, this was an old building that they converted into a community hall. The Japanese community did all the work on it. And they built classrooms in the basement for the Japanese school, and we had, upstairs was judo for judo, kendo practice and those things, and I know we used to have Japanese movies there also, so it was a pretty good size area.

MH: How did they do the upkeep for it? Did they have any functions to earn money?

EF: Oh, yes. Yeah. We had lots of functions, and other organizations would like to use the place too, and we got, you know, funding from them and funding from the Japanese community. That's how we managed to keep it up.

MH: What has happened to that piece of property now?

EF: That piece of property was for sale for many years. After we tore it down in 1965, I remember that because I was JACL president back then, and I'm the one that was, had to tell the people who were going to do the work about it and what kind of money we were going to pay for that. But they did it all in one day, so it was here and gone. But anyway, the property end was blank. It was nothing there besides the land, and it sat for about fifteen years I'd say. And finally, we got an offer from the nursery people that had land next to it, and they decided they'd liked to buy it, so we sold it to them.

MH: Do you remember what you sold it for?

EF: I probably remember the price, but I don't know whether I should...

MH: That's okay.

EF: I don't know whether I could quote the price, but it was a nice price. And all of a sudden, it was a property of value. That is why it got into that position. In other words, we held on to it long enough to, before we could even give it away because I had some friends who I offered that property to, and we were only talking about three or four thousand dollars at that time, and it went a lot higher than that.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

MH: What grade school did you go to?

EF: Troutdale grade school.

MH: And how far was it from your home?

EF: It was over a mile, mile and a half I'd say.

MH: How did you get there?

EF: We walked. We had no buses back in those days.

MH: Were your folks involved in the school?

EF: Not really, not really. My dad used to take us to, transport us to, so we can get to play baseball against the opponent once in a while, but not really. They were too busy making, trying to survive.

MH: What high school did you go to?

EF: Gresham High School.

MH: Did you feel any prejudice while you were going there?

EF: No, I never did feel that.

MH: Do you remember any of your teachers?

EF: Oh, yeah.

MH: Why?

EF: Huh?

MH: Why? Why do you remember those teachers?

EF: Well, I think if you've been there for four years you kind of got to know them quite well and the different subjects that they taught. They didn't have a lot of schoolteachers back in those days, but the ones we had were great, I thought.

MH: What kind of activities were you involved in in high school?

EF: Well, I was involved in a few sports like baseball. That was my sport anyhow, baseball. But I was also the sports writer for the school newspaper, so I got involved in the other sports also, and also got to be the sports editor for the annual book that came out every year for the graduating class.

MH: Do you still have any of those annuals?

EF: No. I think we had a fire and that was lost in that. I never was able to replace it.

MH: Did you go with the teams when they played the games?

EF: Yes. I went to the games.

MH: How was that accomplished?

EF: Well, it went pretty well as long as you were in the right, if the coach said you can go, you went. If he said you can't go, you stayed back. They didn't want you to go, and the coach was the one that usually said whether you can go or not.

MH: And you went by bus, car?

EF: We went by bus, right.

MH: When did you graduate from high school?

EF: I got caught in the, the evacuation was from 1942 and I was a senior in high school that year, so we had to evacuate before graduation, so they just gave us our diploma and said, "You graduated. Here's your diploma." This is how we got out, very simple. But we had quite a large senior group then too, I mean among the Nisei. We had a big senior group.

MH: Can you remember any of them that were, you know, Japanese Americans?

EF: I can remember a few, yes, because there's still a few that still live around here.

MH: Like who?

EF: Well, boy, you know like George Tambara for one and Tom Hijiki and Yama Tsugahiro, and his name was Takashi Tamura but everybody knew him as John Tamura and his sister Lillian was also a classmate. And people like Mary Doi, they were also in that class, Oscar Kondo, so we had quite a big class.

MH: Do you have class reunions?

EF: We used to have, yes, but it's got to the point where, we had one this year too, but I didn't attend it. I had something else that I was involved in. And I've always said, Hey fifty years is enough. So when the fifty years came up, I just dropped out.

MH: You mentioned a senior banquet. Tell me about that.

EF: Well, we had a senior banquet, but see there was a curfew of eight o'clock and the banquet started at six o'clock, so we were part of the graduating class, so we attended for two hours or less because we had to be back at home by eight o'clock.

MH: How did you feel about that?

EF: Well, we didn't like it, but, hey, we all lived with it and abided by the rules, so we didn't make any problems with it. We just said, hey, we only got so much time, and everybody accepted that.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

MH: Pearl Harbor, where were you, what were you doing?

EF: We were out in the field harvesting when this all happened. Naturally, we didn't know about it until we came in for lunch at noon. It was a tough day for the Nisei, I thought really tough for the Nisei, but maybe the Issei too, but I know it was a tough day for the Nisei. I never thought anything like this would happen. But we still were in school, so we had to go to school the next day. It was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. People, hey, it was still like normal in fact. They didn't make no big that we were Japanese. They had no problem, never took it out on us like we were the enemy, so life went on like normal. It was great. These people were, we had no problems. We had no problems. That's awful hard to say, but we didn't have no problems, and we were the graduating class too. And like I said, we had quite a few in our class, so it should have made a difference, but it didn't.

MH: What happened with the farm, your dad, during this period?

EF: My dad was still very active other than being a first generation Nisei was still the boss. He was still the boss. He called all the shots, which was fine with us. You couldn't have found a better person to call the shots. Well, we owned the farm. We owned the farm. That was the one thing that we owned the farm. And since we had to evacuate, we had to get somebody to run the farm because we had strawberries on there and we had spinach on there. Items were just about ready to harvest when they left, so we found a family that worked for us before that said they'll take care of the farm, those crops. But we had the other land, the open land that we were concerned about. So the Multnomah County farm was our neighbor next door, so my dad kind of felt, hey, maybe we'll see if they're interested in the land while we're gone like sharecropping. So he made those arrangements, but we had a little problem with that. When we returned, they didn't want to give that ground up. My father, but they didn't own the ground. So we had a little court hassle for about three months. But one Sunday morning, my father says, "Start up the tractor because we're going to disk all this grain up." There's a lot of grain being raised, and that was the answer to the whole situation, problem. And the funny thing about it was the farm manager was on his horse on the other side of the fence when this all took place, so he got a bird's eye view of this scene that was made, and that was the end of the problem.

MH: Let's go back. Your father couldn't go to the market anymore and you were, what, just eighteen years old at the time. You had a brother Kaz and where was Kaz?

EF: He was in the army. He was drafted already.

MH: So what was your role at that time?

EF: I was the next old, I was the oldest son, so I had to do things like drive the truck up to Seattle and Tacoma. And we had a curfew where we had to be back, couldn't leave until eight o'clock in the morning and had to be back home at eight o'clock at night, so we had to make sure we could make that run up there and back within that twelve hours. So I was still going to high school at that time. So at that time when things were busy, we made two trips a week, and I had to drive the truck because my father was an alien. He was not allowed to, he was not allowed to drive or be on the road.

MH: What were the trips for?

EF: We had produce we were selling. We had farm products that we had, somebody had ordered up in Seattle and Tacoma that we were taking care of, so we had to kind of continue to do it till we ran out. So that lasted at least two months, so I missed a few days of school, but everything went all right. I graduated so I can't complain. And I'd tell my teacher, "Hey, I've got to go back to work on the farm." They never, they never ever said, "No, you got to stay in the class." They felt that was more important.

MH: Do you think your dad worried?

EF: Oh, my dad worried. My dad worried from the time I left till the time I got home. Yeah, he worried, and I don't blame him, send some kid out there on the road with a truck that he didn't know where he was going, but I managed it.

MH: You mentioned you went past Fort Lewis etcetera. Was that kind of scary?

EF: Yeah, that was because it was all, they had armed guards out on, right on the road. That was the old days back on the old highways, so it wasn't I-5 or any of those. I forgot what they call it, Highway 90 maybe or something like that, two lane. And wartime, you had to drive with the parking lights on. You couldn't use your headlights during the night although there wasn't that much night driving because I had to be home by eight o'clock. But a lot of times taking off at eight o'clock in the morning, we had to have our lights on, but you can only use your parking lights.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

MH: What happened when the order came to evacuate?

EF: What happened to what?

MH: What happened? What happened when the order came to evacuate? You said your father got someone to take care of the farm. How did you get to wherever you were going to go?

EF: Well, my father had a so-called friend who kind of turned against us after we came back who said that he'd take us to the fairground which was right here in Gresham, so it was just a matter of five-mile ride, so he took all of us to the fairground and where the bus had picked us up to go to Portland Center.

MH: What did you think of the Portland Assembly Center?

EF: I thought it was terrible, but I didn't know how we were going to survive a place like that. But as I said, I personally wasn't there that long because I went out to work with the harvest out in Nyssa, Oregon. So I think we were there about two weeks and then we got out to go to Nyssa, Oregon, to help with the sugar beet thinning. So my brother, Jack, Jim and myself and a lot of the other people all went, you know, we all went out there to help because got out of camp, got on the train and went out there. And we were supposed to be there for two weeks, that was the contract. So we worked for the first two weeks, and I got to come home.

MH: What kind of job did you do during that two weeks? Tell me about that.

EF: We thinned sugar beets. The sugar beets had to be thinned. We drove about fifty miles to the farm from where we were stationed in Nyssa. We went to a town by the name of Jameson, Oregon, so it was about an hour and a half ride one way, so there was a lot of time on the road.

MH: What were you paid for doing that?

EF: Well, we weren't too familiar with the pay when we... but anyway, after doing, working one day, we found out we're not going to make it on this pay scale. So we had people from Yakima, Washington, in this crew too, and here I was just an eighteen-year-old kid, and I says, "Hey, you guys going to work under these wages?" And I really think that if I didn't mention anything about, "Hey, we're not going to make it on this wages," I think they would have worked for that cheap wage. But the second day out, we all agreed to, hey, we all agreed to see if they are going to upscale the wages. Well, I know we were not in the right position for that, but we held our, we held our own and sat on the ditch bank for two hours and didn't do anything. We seen about six cars come into the farm, and I'm saying to myself, "I guess we're going back to Portland Center." But they doubled our wages, so we all went to work about three hours later, and that ended the labor negotiation on the wage scale.

MH: What kind of place did you live when you went to these labor camps, I think they called them that?

EF: Well, this was all tents, tent with a, they had a platform, bought it for us, you know, so we don't have to sit on the ground. But canvas tents and five people in a tent.

MH: You sleep on the floor or --

EF: No, no. We had cots, canvas cots. And it was pretty cold up there then still, so we kind of froze a little bit, but we all survived it.

MH: Did they feed you?

EF: They fed us, yeah. We had to pay for it, but you know, they fed us. They had a mess hall there. It was good enough food, good enough food. I never complained about it. The only thing we had to pack a lunch and go out to fields when we had the, you know, since we were away, sixty miles away, so we can't come back for lunch, so we all packed our lunch. We had no refrigeration or anything back in those days, so some of the items got spoiled and people got sick, so we had a little problem there. Anyway, we all came back intact at the end.

MH: So then after two weeks, you went back to Portland Assembly Center. What happened then?

EF: We got back, my folks wanted to go to, go out there, so we turned right around went back out again which a lot of families that had people that went out the first time they all followed suit, so it was just like all the people went out on that first two weeks all went back out to stay for good.

MH: Did your family go with you, your dad, your mom?

EF: Yes. My whole family went with us, yes.

MH: And you lived in those tents?

EF: We lived in those tents 'til fall, 'til late fall. 'Til about October, we finally moved into a CCC camp that had regular housing. They converted it for these workers, and that was ample shelter for us during the winter.

MH: And where was that?

EF: That was in Adrian, Oregon, which was up the road about twelve miles south.

MH: And what kind of farm work did you do back there?

EF: We were very diversified. We did all kinds of work, took care of sheep and helped with the baled hay that they moved around the, somebody ordered a load and we'd move baled hay and those kind of items. That was the winter jobs which were not very plentiful, but there was enough there for us to survive on, so that's how we got by in the winter.

MH: Did your mother go out and work on the farm too?

EF: Not during the winter. They didn't have to during the winter. But they worked all the time otherwise. That was practically mandatory. I don't, not very many people were able to stay without working. They all had to work.

MH: Who were you paid by?

EF: By the farmer.

MH: And who ran these farm labor camps?

EF: It's federally funded, so Farm Security Administration I think it was that ran that, yeah, and we didn't have any problem with that. They did a good job for us.

MH: So this was about --

EF: And the housing was adequate. You know the housing they made for us was adequate.

MH: So this was in 1942, '43?

EF: Right.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

MH: And then what happened to you?

EF: Well, I decided I was going to go to college for a while, so I went to Brigham Young University of Provo, Utah. I spent a couple of quarters there before Uncle Sam says hey, we're going to draft you. So my father thought hey, you better come back, so I came back. We had a farm in Vale, Oregon, so that was in 1944. And I think I got a deferment because I helped out on the farm, but all my other brothers were slowly being drafted. My brother Jack left from there, drafted, and later on my brother Jim left. He was drafted also. And when we came back here, well, I got drafted, so I had to go too. I just left my brother Tom and Tad and my father, but they managed. They managed. They started the farm back up here.

MH: Did you have a car when he was farming in Vale?

EF: Yeah, we had a car. We had a car, and we bought a truck. We had to have a truck. And we had other equipment that we had brought up from Troutdale where we had it stored, so we had a van that brought it all up for us. The only problem we had was we only farmed the one year, so when the order was lifted that we could return to Troutdale, my dad and I went back to see, they gave us a permit to see whether it was all right, conditions were okay, so my father and I came out to check it out, and we decided two weeks later we'd return, so everybody came back home.

MH: What did you do with some of the farm equipment that you had in Vale?

EF: We had an auction out there, and we had an auction with our neighbor across the road, so we got rid of a lot of it there. So, you know, it was items we didn't need back here, so that's why we had an auction, and the neighbor had quite a bit to auction off too, so it worked out well for us.

MH: How did you get all that other stuff back to Gresham?

EF: Well, we had the truck too, so we loaded that on the truck, and we had onions that were leftover from our harvest that year, so we were allowed to take that all back on a rail car back to Troutdale. So we loaded up on the rail car, a regular car, and another family had items too. They were coming back the same time, so we kind of divvied the car up between the two families, and they brought it to Troutdale, so it was very convenient.

MH: Tell me about your experience at Brigham Young. Where did you stay? I'm going back a little bit.

EF: Well, you mean when we got back home?

MH: No, no, when you went to college at Brigham Young.

EF: Well, you know, housing was really a tight issue back in those days. We stayed in a basketball gym when school started. But before that, we stayed in a FSA camp where farm workers were staying because that was the only housing available. And the night before, they had some violence where somebody came through there with a shotgun, and some people were hurt because they were Japanese, and there were some people that was really against that housing. But like I said, we weren't quite there yet, so we didn't have to, but I know some people got wounded from, or injured from those people who raises that kind of commotion while we were there. But from there, we moved into a regular dormitory housing that the college had, and we stayed there a couple weeks, but we were finally able to find housing in the medical clinic room adjacent to the clinic, and we had five people staying there, so it was kind of pack, but we managed. We managed our time during the school. And we worked, we didn't have to give money for the room. We put in two hours helping with the upkeep of a family home of one of the doctors, the main doctor, so that's how we paid our rent.

MH: And where did you eat?

EF: And we also worked on the university farm on the weekends because we were, you know, people were knowledgeable, and the farm manager happened to be a Nisei also, so he knew that we could do the job, so we at least put in at least one day a week on the farm helping with the harvesting a few items like potatoes and those items, those winter crops.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

MH: Okay. You came back to Gresham with your dad in February of '45, who was in your house at that time?

EF: Well, this family that my father, people that worked for it before that said they would run the farm while we were gone that was very nice of them. It was a father, son, and a mother.

MH: Do you remember their names?

EF: Cunningham was their name, Cunningham. In fact, I just went to a Troutdale Historical get together last Sunday in fact and Scott Cunningham was the main speaker and he spoke of, you know, my father, and since he was one of the people involved in taking care of the farm, so all those, that conversation was all revolved around our family, and he remembered everything. He remembered all the trials and tribulations. But they did a good job, and he still lives around this area.

MH: How was the reception in Gresham, the Japanese --

EF: Very, very hostile. They didn't want us back here. It was very hostile. But they tried to, they tried to put us to a point where we were not able to get the supplies to farm, but they always forget that, you know, we've been around a while too before that, so those connections were still available for us, so we were able to get the items. Actually, we had friends here that they were very supportive of us like food products, no problem, and fuel and fertilizer and those items that they were trying to make sure we didn't get. Hey, we had no problems getting those items. So once we got started, everything went full bore.

MH: Can you name any of the families or organizations that really were very helpful towards the Japanese Americans?

EF: Most of those families are all gone now. Most of those families have all gone. I still have a neighbor right west of me here whose husband was in the anti-Japanese group, but he's gone, but his widow is still here. But I have never had any problems with her. We've been neighbors for a long time here.

MH: What's the worst thing you could remember when you first came back?

EF: The worst thing I can remember was our trip back from Ontario, Oregon. That was, that was almost like a nightmare actually because, you know, we never had the freeway, I-84. It was a Highway 30, two lanes, and I was driving the truck. I was the oldest member of the family, so I had my brother Jim and my brother Tad with me at that time in the truck, and we left Ontario on a Saturday afternoon about two o'clock or two-thirty of all the times to leave. They didn't get out of Ontario and here comes a cow across the road. There's only two lanes, so I had to hit the brake and then had a Caterpillar tractor on the back of the truck that weighed five thousand pounds and a refrigerator and other household goods and fifty gallons of gas, and I had to hit the brake. Well, the brake line broke about the time I hit it, so there went the brakes. No brakes. Well, anyway, I dodged the cow. But since it was Saturday afternoon, no place to get the brake fixed, so we traveled all the way to Pendleton before we were able to get that fixed, and I had to go down Cabbage Hill. For those who know Cabbage Hill back in the old days, that alone was a nightmare. Well, I'm thinking about my two brothers who are riding with me and boy I says, hey, you sure can't make a mistake here and the hairpin turns and only two lanes coming down the top of that mountain. Finally, there was a fact we had to gear down because no brakes, finally, blew the distributor cap off, the back pressure, but my dad, my father was in the car in front of us, so he knew we had some troubles, so he went down to Pendleton to get a mechanic and came up and took the distributor out of his car, and we managed to wiggle down to Pendleton. So that alone took two days already to get to Pendleton from Ontario, so it was a long trip back home. But once we got the brakes fixed, we managed to get home finally on the third day.

MH: Tell me about your experience of taking your younger brother to school, first day of school.

EF: Well, I had the task of taking my brother Tom back to Gresham High School, 1945. He was going to high school in Nyssa because we were there. But anyway, I didn't know how things were going to go, but I had to take him to the principal's office and he'd seen me, he'd seen me. So I was on, you know, he was a very friendly person and he knew, you know, we returned, the order was that we returned. And he told me, "Hey, Ed, you know how the conditions are?" And I told him, "Oh, I'm very much aware of it," I told him. It's not too friendly, but I understand, I told him. Well, he was very supportive and made announcement over the PA system to all the students that, "We have students of Japanese ancestry returning to school because the order now is lifted that they can return." So he handled it well, and my brother Tom hadn't had no problems. Everything went smooth for him so that was great.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

MH: After the war, I mean, you served in the army for a while, right? What did you do after you came back from the army?

EF: Well, I stayed around the farm for a while, then I went to school on the GI Bill, trade school. So I must have been dedicated to the farm because I only spent about six weeks off the farm, so I never took more than one year to finish the course. But other than that, I stayed on the farm.

MH: What kind of activities did they have after the war for Japanese Americans?

EF: Well, they started bowling and those things, so things really started to pick up after that. I think it was 1947 when they had returned to bowling and those things, so they had a lot of activities. And most of the organizations were all started up, so it was a very comfortable situation as far as I was concerned, and we never ran into any hostility or anything like that.

MH: Where did you meet your wife?

EF: I met her out in Nyssa, Oregon, when we both working out in the sugar beets. And her family also all came out to Nyssa after we returned. After the two-week period, they also all went out there, so that's where I met her.

MH: And when did you get married?

EF: 1950. July of 1950.

MH: That's quite a span between the time you met her and when you got married.

EF: Yeah. Yeah. Well, she went to school. She went to Oregon State, and I was, you know, when they got back, I was back involved in the farming.

MH: So you did date her?

EF: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

MH: What kind of activities did you do when you dated her?

EF: Oh, just nothing special, nothing special. If they had a dance or something, we went, you know.

MH: They had dances?

EF: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, like at the Buddhist church, you know, the old Buddhist church and those places. A lot of people were coming back so a lot of familiar faces around.

MH: How many children do you have?

EF: We have three.

MH: What are their names and what do they do?

EF: Scott is the oldest. He was, he lives in Hawaii, and he works for the Bank of Hawaii. He's been there for about twenty years now, and Scott is divorced, so he's got a home on Hawaii Kai. He's doing well; he's doing very well. Becky, number one daughter, is in Eugene, and she's a schoolteacher and very active in the school negotiation team for the teachers, very active. She has one daughter named Yoko, and her husband is a physician in Eugene. My youngest is Tammy. She lives in Seattle, and she's an Oregon State graduate also, and she's active in, I don't know what you really call that company but very, has a variety of items that they're involved in not only manufacturing but selling, so it keeps her quite busy, and she has one son named Griffin.

MH: It sounds like education was very important, is that true?

EF: Very important, yeah. They all got a college education, and they didn't waste any time taking off. The minute they graduated they were gone, so they did well.

MH: And do you get together quite often?

EF: Oh, yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah, yeah. Three or four times a year, we have a family gathering, so we're --

MH: So that's really important to you?

EF: Oh, very important, very important.

MH: Besides bowling, what other activities are you involved in in your retirement?

EF: I golf a little bit and other, you know, club activities involved in the veterans and those things and a little bit of church, so keeps me busy. And I got a lot of yard here to take care of, so that alone when you get to be eighty years old gets to be a full-time job.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

MH: Let me go back. After you quit farming, what other jobs did you do?

EF: Well, I went into wholesale produce business, eventually took over the company and called it Edward H. Fujii Wholesale Produce, and it was very successful. I had it for ten years, and the person across the street asked me one day, "Aren't you ever going to retire?" And I kind of looked at him, and I says, "Well, heck, I'm just getting my second wind here." Well, he was very interested in the business. Actually, he walked to the place every day. He was only across the street, so he had a very good eye on that, what was happening in that business. So he kept talking, and I thought, well, I was sixty-seven years old at that time, so I thought, well, this could be a good chance to getting out. So he met my terms. So I says, "Go ahead, you can take it. You meet my terms and you can take it." So the company is still running today, and they call it now Fujii Produce instead of Edward H. Fujii.

MH: What did the company do actually?

EF: They're in the wholesale produce business. They handle, they cater to all the major chains, Safeway, Fred Meyer. They've got all Albertsons, United Grocer. They've got practically all the major chains they service.

MH: So did you have to contact farmers to get this produce --

EF: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. He had a good teacher. He had a good teacher. He had a good teacher, and he followed, he followed my rules, so he's doing okay. Especially with that name, Fujii is still there, involved in the company. I never knew he was going to keep the name. I thought he'd change it. I mean there was no stipulation when I sold it, but he had to, he could do whatever he wanted to do with it as far as I was concerned.

MH: You belong to GT JACL and was quite active in it. There was an award given to you recently. How did you feel about that?

EF: It was an honor. It was an honor especially when you've been in this club that long. It was an honor, and I chaired, it was an honor to get it.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

MH: What were your feelings about redress?

EF: Well, the amount might not have been sufficient, but we've been so humble. I think it was either that or better than nothing. So I kind of felt at least we got something for our crusade that we were on and being out, you know, evacuated and all those things. That alone was quite an ordeal as far as I was concerned, especially if you were a self-employed person like we were, you know, just had to get rid of stuff that you hate to get rid of because you just got it. That was hard.

MH: Is there any one regret you have about the redress? I think you mentioned it.

EF: Well, sorry the Issei didn't get the redress. They're the ones who should have got it. They're the ones that went through all this turmoil not being...

MH: Does that include your mom and dad?

EF: Yeah. Yeah. I thought they were good citizens. All Issei were good citizens. They didn't do anything against this country. They were hard workers. Yeah, that's my biggest regret, the Issei never were compensated.

MH: What contribution do you think the Niseis have made? You talked about the Isseis. How about the Niseis?

EF: Well, the Nisei came a long way. They had to pick it up from the Issei, and I think that was as far as I'm concerned the Nisei did great. They did great being, had to be of the, had to go evacuation and all that. Sure, Issei were there, but the Nisei were right alongside. As far as I'm concern, they went shoulder to shoulder with them, so they did great.

MH: What advice would you give to your children or to the young people in general right now?

EF: I don't think my kids got a racial barrier of any kind, so hey, they lived a life of being equal to anybody. They don't take a backseat to any person, and I think they've done well. They've done well. They assimilated into the atmosphere with no problem. Hey, they're doing great.

MH: So maybe you'd tell these young people the sky's the limit, huh?

EF: Yes, the sky's the limit. The sky's the limit for 'em. Hey, they had good teachers. They had good teachers, so they learned well. They had good teachers.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

MH: We're nearing the end of this interview. Is there any questions or anything else you would like to add to this interview?

EF: Well see, the one item that I did bring up was the trip back from Ontario on the last trip home, that alone was always in my mind, and I was trying to get it in somewhere to mention that and what a trip, so I'm glad I got that in there.

MH: You know but there's one other thing that you really remember when you came back to Gresham and it was a sign that you saw. What did that sign say?

EF: "No Japs allowed."

MH: How did that make you feel?

EF: Made me feel terrible, especially when I was there at the place when the sign came out, really made me feel terrible. I had told the service station man in Troutdale which we knew real well, that, you know, we always bought our gas from him, and one day he told me, he says, "I can't sell you anymore gas." Well, I don't think I really said anything nasty or anything like that, but I told him, you won't sell us anymore gas, but we won't be back either. And all this time he was there, but we never ever went back, never ever went back to his establishment. And the funny thing about it, he moved in, built a house below the farm and moved in, and I was wondering, boy, I guess he was comfortable there. He wanted to move there, so he bought that property and moved in there, but we never did any business. That was when he turned us down that one time, that was the end of the line, and we managed, we survived. Other people were around.

MH: Anything else you would like to add that you can remember that we kind of missed?

EF: No.

MH: Nope. I think you said something about your dad. You know, you work with what you have, don't go into debt; is that right? He was a big influence in your life, right?

EF: Oh, yeah.

MH: Thank you, Ed, for sharing your story with us.

EF: Thank you.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

MH: You had six brothers and sisters. The oldest was Akiye. Tell me a little bit about Akiye?

EF: Akiye.

MH: Akiye, I'm sorry.

EF: Akiye was just, Akiye was the oldest sister. She did well. She held her position well. She was a hard worker.

MH: She get married?

EF: Huh?

MH: Did she get married?

EF: Oh, yes. She got married early in life. I think she was married when she was nineteen.

MH: And where did she live?

EF: She lived in Shelton, Washington. They lived in a houseboat out on the Oyster Bay at Shelton. She lived there until evacuation because they evacuated before the order. They voluntarily left the area before the order came into effect, and they decided to go to Brighton, Colorado. Although they didn't know a soul out there that's where they decided to go. Her and her brother-in-law and his family also went. I was well aware of that because I had to deliver something to her before, because the next day, they were leaving, going to leave, and I said they're voluntarily evacuating. I mean, they're on their own in other words.

MH: So you were eighteen and you stopped to see her on your way to Tacoma or --

EF: No. I made a special trip there because they were going to leave the next day. I had something that they had to have. But that must have been quite a trek to Colorado from that area.

MH: You said that she came back every summer with her children. Why did she come back every summer?

EF: At that time, she had two boys and two girls, and they were all berry picking age. They could pick berries. They were old enough to pick berries. They would bring their family car. She'd bring them in the family car, so there was no big expense about that station when she drove. Later on, the boys were able to drive because they're old enough. But every year, she had those family ties. That's why she came back. And she was, that's what she was, an oneesan like we used to, you know, call her. She would do anything. She just felt that was an obligation she had to do, so she always came back every summer.

MH: How old was she when she passed away?

EF: She was eighty-two years old.

MH: And she had a business of her own you said?

EF: Well, she was self-employed, housekeeping, you know, housekeeping, self-employed. And she worked two days before she passed away, so she was an astonishing woman actually. You know, everybody asked me, worked two days before she died? They can't believe that. But if they knew her, they knew she would do that.

MH: And you had another sister named Kimiko. What does she do?

EF: Kimi was just a housewife married to a dentist.

MH: And where did she live?

EF: She lived in Newberg, Oregon. She still lives there, and she's a widow because her husband has passed on. She had three boys, and they all kind of lived in the area down there like Corvallis, Albany, and Lake Oswego, so it is very close by.

MH: Kaz was the oldest son?

EF: Right.

MH: What does he do now?

EF: He's retired.

MH: Jack was next.

EF: Yeah. Jack's been gone for, he's been gone for ten years.

MH: And did he farm also with your dad?

EF: Yeah, right, he farmed also.

MH: And Jim?

EF: Yeah. He's still farming.

MH: He's farming. Tom?

EF: Tom works for the Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service. That's where he retired from.

MH: For the State of Oregon?

EF: Federal.

MH: Federal?

EF: Yeah.

MH: He must have gone to school somewhere?

EF: Oregon State.

MH: And then Tad, the youngest?

EF: I don't like to call Tad a vagabond, but he stayed on the farm most of the time but got caught in the Vietnam War. And from there, he did merchant marine service, then retired in California because he got, he got an early retirement because of physical problems.

MH: And is he still living?

EF: Just passed away.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

MH: When you were growing up, there must have been some kind of routine you did on the farm. Tell me, you know, what it was like a daily day type of thing on the farm?

EF: No two days were alike. In other words, no two days were alike, so you didn't know what to expect, so that's the way farm life was. It all depends on your chores you did. Chores were different every day. One day you're taking care of the chickens, and the next day you were taking care of the pigs, so there was a lot of difference. And we had four teams of horses on the farm, which was quite a few teams of horses. My father was a good horseman, so he could handle them. But back in those days when we didn't have the tractors, there was a big workhorse. That was part of farming. And as I said, my father was good in handling horses.

MH: Did your mom get up in the morning and stoke the fire and do all that kind of stuff?

EF: Oh, yes. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

MH: She had breakfast ready for all of you?

EF: All of us, you bet she did and, you know, variety. I can't believe the variety that she was able to come up with. I mean, heck, hey we didn't live, we lived frugally, but the variety she was able to put together was amazing. You know, you could hardly walk away from the table without having your stomach full.

MH: Give me an example of what one day would have been like for you. When you got up in the morning, your mom had breakfast ready for you, then what if you weren't going to school on that particular day?

EF: Oh, we knew what chores we had to do and where we were going to do the job on the farm.

MH: What kind of chore would you have first thing in the morning?

EF: Well, especially if you got horses and cows, the stalls had to be cleaned out and those kind of things, those kind of chores. It took quite a bit of time, usually took two or three hours to get that done. We had quite a few cows in those days so have them being milked and fed and those kind of things plus being cleaned up was --

MH: Did you ever milk the cows?

EF: No, I didn't ever milk the cows.

MH: Who did that usually?

EF: No, it wasn't me. Somebody else did it. I thought my sisters did that, you know that? I thought they were the ones who milked the cows, but I never. I got to admit, I never milked a cow.

MH: Did your father, was he the only one who actually used the horses to plow, etcetera. or were your boys able to do that too?

EF: No. We always had hired help to work the horses. We had people, you know, hired that were able to, were good at that. My father was too busy with everything else, but he always had people that could run those horses.

MH: Who did the planting?

EF: My father. Yeah, my father did the planting.

MH: Did you ever have to irrigate water?

EF: Oh, yes, we irrigated, oh, yeah.

MH: Did you help with that?

EF: Oh, yeah. It wasn't so much helping my dad. We were probably the ones that did the major part of the work like moving the pipes and those things.

MH: So where did the water come from?

EF: We had a well. We had a well, yeah, and the place where we had the well. But otherwise, we had ponds that we pumped out of.

MH: When it was harvest time, how did the day start when you really had to get out there and harvest something?

EF: Well, took a lot of people, so you had to be fairly well organized to make sure everybody had a job.

MH: What kind of job?

EF: You know like picking up the, making sure the help was in the right field and those things. And then at the end, they had something to pick the berries into, so there was a lot of management work that had to be taken care of. And if you weren't aware of what was around you, you'd sure be in trouble.

MH: Was school different for farm kids, for you kids, as opposed to maybe the kids who went to city schools?

EF: Well, I think there was a difference in the lifestyle for people who lived in the city and kids who live out in the country. I think they always had plenty of things that they had to do when they got home especially if they lived on the farm. There were no such thing as just coming home and sitting around the table. They all had their chores to do.

MH: Like what kind of chores did you have when you were still in grade school?

EF: Well, if you had chickens and those things, they always had to be fed, and the eggs had to be picked up. And we also had pigs, so they had to be fed, and the horses always had to, stalls had to always be cleaned plus the cows. So as far as work is concerned, it was endless. As far as I was concerned, there just wasn't that much free time. That's what the farm life was all about as far as I'm concerned.

MH: So you went to school, came home, did chores, your mother had dinner ready for you?

EF: Oh, yeah.

MH: And did you have chores after dinner or usually?

EF: No, no, no. We were always done. Yeah, after dinner was free time.

MH: Did you have homework?

EF: Always, we had homework, oh, yeah.

MH: Did your folks help you with homework?

EF: No, not really, not really, not really.

MH: When you were going to high school, did you, you must have been quite a ways from Gresham High School.

EF: Five miles.

MH: How did you get there?

EF: Oh, we had a bus. We rode the bus. And later on during the period of time when I was at, I had to learn how to drive the truck, well, we'd always take the car, you know. Car was available for me to get home early in other words.

MH: When you were growing up, did you have electricity?

EF: Not at the start.

MH: Not at the start.

EF: No, not at the start.

MH: How old do you think you were when you got the electricity?

EF: I think I was almost a freshman in high school when it first, before the first power. We had electricity at the house, and I could still remember them putting that in. I think I can still remember them putting those, you know, they had no code back in those days I don't think. They seem like they just, whatever space was available, that's where it went. That's where it went.

MH: Was your mother excited about the electricity?

EF: No, she really wasn't. All we had was a wood stove or a gas stove, so she wasn't excited, you know. She never did have an electric grill, range at that time, so it was all either gas or wood.

MH: You talked about your dad having a team of horses, can you remember when you got that first tractor?

EF: That was quite a ways down the line. I don't think it was before 1936 at the earliest.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

MH: I'm going to go back again to when you were going to school at Brigham Young University. Tell us more about how you felt about the people who were there in Salt Lake, etcetera?

EF: Because when I first got there, they had this shooting at this FSA camp. Boy, I says, people must be pretty hostile around here, I thought. And I came in there all alone, so I really didn't know anybody. But before too long, I mean, other friends had showed up that I knew. So as I said, we all stayed in this basketball gymnasium dorm because that was the only housing available for us. But we later moved into this building, medical building, that had a room for us. Five guys crammed into small quarters, but we managed. There was cooking facilities there too.

MH: You mentioned that you thought people were fairly hostile at Brigham Young. Who ran Brigham Young University? Who ran it? Who actually owned the university?

EF: The Mormons.

MH: The Mormons. So are you saying the Mormons were hostile or --

EF: Well, if there was a, if they were not hostile, I'd like to see that. I'd sure have to see it in writing because I think they're the ones who caused the problem.

MH: So you think they were pretty prejudice against Japanese Americans?

EF: Well, I say they are although they're, I think they are against prejudice, but I think they are very prejudice.

MH: And you felt it when you went there?

EF: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, we felt it, yeah.

MH: You were there you said two quarters, why did you leave?

EF: Because I was getting ready to get drafted.

MH: You were drafted and you went to where?

EF: I went to Camp Fannin, Texas, for basic training. And after seventeen weeks of training, we went to, we were getting ready to go overseas, so we went to Camp Picket, Virginia. But then they decided to send us to Fort Snelling, Minnesota, to the Japanese language school, so about fourteen of us were transferred to Fort Snelling. So I spent six more months there, but I never went to school because they transferred the school to Monterey, California. So in other words, the war was over by then and they didn't quite need that many interpreters, so few of us were left behind, and I was in that group. So we ended up in Kentucky, Campbell, Kentucky, where we finished out our army career with a Signal Corps group where we learned the international Morse code, so we learned something.

MH: So you never got to go overseas?

EF: No.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

MH: When you returned back to Gresham, we talked a little bit about it, but there were some people who actually really helped the Japanese people, right? Can you tell me a little bit about that, your father's experience, how he got back, etcetera?

EF: Yeah. Well, my father was an old timer here, and he had some acquaintances that, you know, never would turn against him that were very supportive of him because they all knew he was a hard worker. And you know, hey, he was a very friendly person and very knowledgeable person for Japanese, so he got a lot of respect that way. And people used to come up to him for information about the quality of land in this area and what he thought of it. Actually, he's here, so he must have thought highly of the area, but people would come and ask him, is this a good area to come into? And I know he told them, oh yes, it's a good area.

MH: And you had raised onions and failed, and your dad wanted to sell them to somebody?

EF: Yes.

MH: Tell me about that?

EF: Well, this was the first guys after we came back, and he owned the 12-Mile Corner, he owned a big store.

MH: What was his name?

EF: Carl Zimmerman was his name, Zimmerman's 12-Mile Store. He always was good to Japanese even before, even when we went to camp, he'd call up and say, "You guys need some stuff?" you know, and he'd bring it down. He'd bring it down to the assembly center. They would just meet him, and he'd have whatever they ordered, so very friendly person. Well, my dad had told him that he had some dry onions that he brought from Eastern Oregon. Well, he says, "Hey, I can use them. I'll take them all," he told him. So, you know, my dad was glad to get rid of them because I don't think they were anything outstanding as far as the price was concerned, but he just wanted to get rid of them, and he's the one that took them all. And like I said, he was here for us. He was a good man for us.

MH: Was he also there for the other Japanese who came back?

EF: Oh, yes. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, everybody, everybody all had good words for him, yeah.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2003 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.