Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Bennie Ouchida Interview
Narrator: Bennie Ouchida
Interviewer: Stephan Gilchrist
Date: September 13, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-obennie-01

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

<Begin Segment 1>

BO: My name is Bennie Kiyoshi Ouchida, born April 10, 1917, and true name is Kyoshi, but then in grade school, they couldn't pronounce it, so they nicknamed me Bennie. And when I went to high school, they thought I was a girl, so they had to go to the school district and get that all ironed out. From then on, I was Bennie. I went through the army as a Bennie.

SG: Did your parents call you Bennie also?

BO: No, Kiyoshi. I'm Kiyoshi. But with the dual citizen, well naturally when I got drafted in Fort Lewis, corporal, I got notice from Japan to report. Oh, Dad got real excited, and we can't leave one here and the rest of them go back, so he went to the consulate and got all the citizenship cancelled. I was a dual citizen in the army. I didn't tell the army anything about it. [Laughs]

SG: So your parents, you're second generation, and your parents came from Japan; is that right?

BO: Yeah. My parents, well, both of them came from Kyushu. And Dad, he was the only son of a rich family, and he came to Hawaii and was married and had a daughter. And the first wife passed away, and he sends the daughter to his mother, who they call grandmother, and she took care, and Dad, he decided to come to Washington. And he came to Tacoma, then he went to Yakima and he didn't like it. And then he drifted over to the Boring. That's where he called my mother which is the second one. They always give the oldest daughter away first. And my dad said that he knows the family, the Nishimura family, and he would like to have the second one. She's the prettiest, best. So then my mom, as she came at the age of nineteen, I think, came to San Francisco, then came back up to Portland, then to Boring and got married in Boring.

SG: How old was your father when he came first time to U.S.?

BO: I don't know. It's in that report. That part I don't know how old he was then.

SG: What made him decide to leave Japan?

BO: Oh, they would get, they came out to make money and send money home because he's the only son and then go and support the family. But then again, when the mother passed away, he went back and donated property to the city hall, and city hall sits right on top of it in Japan. I don't know what town that is. My brother Jack, he knows where's this is at, but I didn't see it.

SG: What kind of work did his family do in Kyushu?

BO: They were kind of farmers. Yeah, Nishimuras, they were farmers. Nishimura family, well, my mom's family was a large family, but my dad was only a single son, so he had, but later on as we started growing up, Shigeta, he's the youngest brother to my mom, we always call him "Uncle," and the age difference was as if it was my mom's child, so they called him over to help out on the farm. And he came over and joined up, and so his name is Ouchida. Actually, supposed to be Nishimura. He, heard of Hideo Ouchida, Frankie, Roy. That's supposed to be Nishimura on my mom's side. Come in illegal. Agree?

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

SG: You were saying that they were, they came over illegally. And how did they, how were they able to do that?

BO: That's not my, my mom and dad is legal, but the uncle who came in as my mom's youngest, well, she's the youngest, he's the youngest son but as a child, her child; therefore, he changed the name to Ouchida, and then he comes over.

SG: So they were pretending to be --

BO: Ouchidas. So their child is all Ouchidas even though due to this prevarication, all straight up. They went through and ironed it all out. They know what's what, but they're sticking to Ouchida, that family.

SG: And they came to Hawaii you were saying?

BO: My dad came to Hawaii first to work in the sugar beets, and he decided he wanted to come to U.S., so he came to the U.S. and then called my wife, my mom over and got married. Then later on after I was born, they called that daughter that he sent to Japan to Mother's side, they called her over and to help out, take care the kids like me, you know. [Laughs] And she was kind of wild, running around, chasing around, and he got married, she got married to, married Matt Takaki, the Takaki family that was doing the labor in Orient, get the Japanese here, and then they hire to the other jobs, labor something, they were doing that, Takakis. That's how we were connected to the Takaki family, through her.

SG: How did you, how did your, can you tell me more about how your mom and dad met or how he sent her over?

BO: You mean mom, my mom met with Dad? They pretty much grew up. They knew each other in schools, in Japan, same place. So Dad knew her is the best looking and all this and that, and that's how Mom was able to come over. But my mom after he came over, she helped out on the logging camp. She gets up early, cook for the gang, and then she had to dish wash everything. And she goes out and help work the chainsaw or dragsaw and chop tree down, split, and then go back and cook for a gang. And evenings, she's the last one have to clean up. All the men are sleeping and the last one to go to bed. Then she had to be the first one to get up and get the meals ready, so the boys could go back to work. And that's why they left the logging and tried farming in Boring, and that's where Jack was born. And then they quit that and went to top of the hill of south of Gresham, south of 190th and Powell, and that's where my sister and I was born, on top of the hill.

SG: What kind of stories did your parents tell you about their experience coming to Oregon and Washington? What kind of stories did they tell you about their experience?

BO: My dad when he went to Tacoma to work in a group, the gang there, the foreman, he took the payroll and didn't give it to him and the men kind of rioted. They all got thrown in jail, and my dad happened to be there too, so he got thrown in jail. So he always resent that he has a record, thrown in jail, but he left that. In other words, if you pick up a coal that's dropped from the train or railroad track company, boy, they give you a big punishment there in Tacoma area. But then he hitched a ride on a freight train and going to Yakima. That's where the brakemen said, "How much money you got?" So he gave all the money he had. "Is that all you got?" Then he kicked his belongings off the train and then, so finally, he had to jump off the moving train and go back after his belongings and then finally went to Yakima working there. But then, that ain't the type of country that he wanted to work. So from there, he came to Orient in that area and then work in the logging camp, and that's where my mom came, to the logging camp.

SG: From Hawaii?

BO: My mom came straight to Japan to Frisco then to Portland and then came to Boring.

SG: So it sounds like they faced a lot of discrimination?

BO: Well, not my mom's side. Dad's side, I don't know, because he worked with, well, like logging camp, they're all in groups anyway. I didn't hear so much about it but just that the logging camp because it's the right type of work that my mom wants, but she didn't expect to be in worse in a no family or nothing around to go visit, just stayed at work and then do the men's laundry and stuff like that. And she has said many times that she would like to go back to Japan again, but she never had a chance to get out. She died at seventy-three, I think. I'm a Mama's boy. [Laughs]

SG: So it sounds like a hard life for both your mom and dad?

BO: Oh, yeah. They worked hard, and Dad, well, he always wanted to be up, you know. He spent a lot of time with people, you know. My mom was that. My mom was, always want to cook and this and that and take care of the kids. She had a full hand.

SG: Were they planning to go back to Japan eventually?

BO: My dad did go back to Japan to take care of the property and all that, but then my mom with the kids, she can't go. She's always tied down. But she always said she would like to go back to Japan once, but she never got a chance to make it. I don't know. It was all work.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

SG: What was your relationship like with your --

BO: Huh?

SG: What was your relationship like with your mom?

BO: My relation to mom? Well, my brother Jack, or the younger one, Dad takes him out to this and that, and I have to stay home and do, take care of the animals and do this and that and then help my mom out, so I'm a Mama's boy. Mama says got to have this done and got to have that done, so I said, "How come?" you know. But the rest of them are going so I'm the only one, so I help milk the cows and all that. Well, I was a heavy baby when I was born, but the weakest one because I even got crushed between a truck and a post. It tells you, you know like crunch, you know. It came back out, and that's the time when Dad was in Japan. I was a freshman that year. I popped it out and had a broken collar. But I came out of that. Like I said, the army didn't catch me. I passed the physical and everything.

SG: So it sounds like your relationship with your mom was closer than your relationship with your father?

BO: Oh, yeah. Dad was kind of hot tempered. I didn't want to mention that. But when he gets mad, he will take all the dishes and everything on the table and slam it on one side and break it all up, then he'll take off. He come with a new bunch of dishes. [Laughs] Poor guy, got to pay for his hot temper. But he had a hot temper, but strict. He'll tell you to do something, you had better do it, you know. But my mom, we said okay. And mom's side, anything we do, we try to go very fast and get the job done fast. But my dad's side was that way. Jack said you're going too fast and all that and Jack always interrupt, and they make us slow down. Oh, we used to get mad. We used to get mad all the time. We didn't get along too good either. That's growing age, you know. [Laughs]

SG: So what was your mom and dad's relationship like?

BO: They were okay. They got along pretty good. He's kind of strict too, but you don't see them fight too much. But they got along pretty good because after all, Mom had to take care of the kids, put 'em in bath and all that, the laundry.

SG: Was your mom happy that she came to the United States?

BO: Oh yeah, she was happy. Only thing that, heading into the woods is kind of a lonesome deal, and then work among the men. And then one time, she says that, "Let's go cut a tree down," so we went to the woods to cut a tree down. We tried and she said, Mom says, "No. Give me the axe. I'll show you how. You want to lay the tree down exactly between those two trees." Those two trees? Yeah, that's right. She took the axe and chopped the tree down, and boy, she followed right down because she was doing the work. She learned all that trick in the woods. Boy, she was really a hard worker. But nowadays, you don't see ladies doing that. She might be pretty, but she had a tough job.

SG: And was your father happy that he left Japan and came to the United States also?

BO: I think so because after all, he was able to make money and then was able to send money to Japan all the time. He would send money to Japan like all the other Japanese were doing.

SG: So they never regretted coming here?

BO: No, no. Only thing that bothered him was we have to learn all the judo, sumo, kendo to protect our own self, and then we must try to go to school because we cannot get job here in U.S. We're second-class citizen, so we have to study hard and learn more than the competitor. And then in competition, you might get same pay, but you'll be able to get the job.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

SG: So your parents, sounds like they pushed certain values for their children?

BO: Oh, yeah. You must do this, must do that. And you know like religion, you got to go Buddhist.

SG: So how many brothers and sisters do you have?

BO: I think about seven and five, seven boys and five girls.

SG: And where were you among those?

BO: Well see, the oldest one is different mother, then comes Jack and Hattie and me. I'm the third one on this mother.

SG: So did your mom raise those, the other kids from the first wife also?

BO: The first wife is the one that they called her back to help out and take care the kids. I said that they called her back to help out take care the kids, and she was wild, among the men, playing around, then finally got married to Matt Takaki.

SG: So when you were growing up, it was just three of you; is that right?

BO: You mean the kids?

SG: Yeah.

BO: They went one after another right straight down the line.

SG: So you say you have a brother and a sister?

BO: Oh, yeah. My brother next one to me is Tom. He's in New Orleans now. And next one right after that is Henry. And after that is Mary. She's in Vale. Mary and then, oh Robert, Robert, he works in Oregon City, and he's eighty-two or -three, right straight down the line. It's all scattered from thereon.

SG: What was your relationship like with your brother and sisters growing up?

BO: Growing up, they always got along with me. I don't know. I'm the easiest one I guess. The oldest one, Jack, he's the hardest one because he likes to be left alone. But then again, he stick his nose in. But he passed away, so I'm the head of the brothers right now.

SG: So was it when you were growing up, how old was the oldest and how old was the youngest child and how many years apart are they?

BO: Oh, that's a hard one. That's a hard one because I left when I was twenty-three. But there was Rosie, was it Rosie that has a barber? I think she's the last one.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

SG: What kind of responsibilities did you have growing up as a son?

BO: As a son, well, we didn't get paid actually. Maybe the year we might get fifty dollar or a hundred dollar, that we could, or we'd get to go to the movie or something like that. But they pay all the expense like that, Japanese school, judo, kendo, and all that, and we put full effort in those things. But high school studies, we carried a book home, but we never opened and take it right back to high school again. That's, and we did a lot of, they picked the Brussels sprout or broccoli or something like that and bring it in the shed, and then we work in getting that prepared for the market. And we night work, then we load up the car, the truck, and then Dad takes to market, and then he comes back by noon. So actually, we didn't get too much chance to study.

SG: Do you mind describing what a typical day would be like for you growing up during elementary school?

BO: Elementary school, well, we have a regular daily job to do and had to be home on time. Well, we didn't have to do too much with our brother and sister, younger, just do what we were told.

SG: What kind of activities did you do around the farm?

BO: Well, I just happened to be the one that gets stuck behind the horse. The horse got to keep moving, got to cultivate the plow, and I have to do that or somebody had to take care the, clean up the barn or feed and water and all that. That's a daily job including the milking cow. We only had one cow, but I did all the milking myself and then bring it home. That was my job. Then the others could take it a little easier.

SG: Did you like doing those things?

BO: Like to do it?

SG: Yeah.

BO: I like to pass the buck. [Laughs]

SG: So you didn't make your brother and sister do those things?

BO: No, no. I just take it on my own because I'm the older brother to them, younger ones, so I just do it, you know. But my older sister, the one above me and I, we got along real good. Anything she says or I says, she used to take care, and help me out. She's the one who is in, way out in National now.

SG: What kind of, what kind of plants did your family grow?

BO: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, all kinds of vegetables, peas, beans. Even planting, we worked until we hardly see in the dark out there. Mom had so much plant. We pulled and we had to plant this; otherwise, it would dry up, and you just got to throw it away. So we work hard and get them all planted. I happened to be the fastest one because I want to, there's a goal you got to set, you know. You got to go and get it done. If not, we all had to stay out there. But that's what we did, child labor. No water, that's right, no water. They didn't bring water out in the field. So anything we see, vegetables, we pop them and we eat it right there. Good plants, we would pop them and chew for water. You never think of, nowadays, everybody has to have water. During that time, no.

SG: Where did you take the plants after you gathered them?

BO: Plants, we had a seabed, have to water and raise it. And after this, then we would take, lift them up and soak it in water and then take it out in the field and then start planting. We had a regular seabed where we raised these plants, all of them, you know.

SG: So after you harvested the plants, what happened?

BO: You mean after we replant, pull, and replant out in the field, then hazardous material, then we had to spray. That spraying usually kills. All the arsenic and all that stuff we inhale, no mask. You got to work with the wind. Then we get a sore spot in the back where it pulls. Later on, they bought a tractor with a beam spray that sprays it and you have a different nozzle and then go down spray with a gas mask. My brother got that. When I asked him, that's the difference between older and the younger one.

SG: It's sounds like tough work.

BO: Yeah. Young days, it was, can't go to town and play around.

SG: Where did your parents sell the vegetables they grew?

BO: Right there, 190th and Powell. Well actually, up the hill, that's where we had about 45 acres of truck farm including all the berries and stuff. Wintertime, you cut the vines and you wind them up on the wires and stuff. So there always was work winter or summer. But Mama was, always got to do this, got to do that. Yeah, okay, okay, you know. Dad says, "Well, Mom said this, so let's do it." If we go, me and my brother, we go and do it, and surprise Mom. Then we kept Mom happy in those ways; otherwise, she will be doing it.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

SG: Did your family ever have financial difficulty having a farm?

BO: Oh, financial difficulty during the Depression time, your price was so cheap. Mom would have the berries picked and says, "Take this down to Pacific Fruit." So I take it down to Pacific Fruit and I leave it. It's consigned, leave it there. If it's sold, we get money. If it don't sold, it's dumped. So we take it down there. But she finally had to go to the stock and get the gold certificate. Finally, it took them out to pull us through the Depression.

SG: What's the gold certificate?

BO: Well, it's, you don't see them no more. But it's a gold card like a twenty dollar bill or hundred dollar bill, but it's gold, and it's worth I don't know how much. You pull them out and spend them up. I kind of hate to see them go, but she did it in order to survive. But the vegetable, we just go out in the field and just cut them whenever we want, you know. But that ain't enough. You have to have some other things with it.

SG: So your parents used their savings to get you through the Depression?

BO: Oh, they bleed it out, so you have to, yeah, drag them out to continue.

SG: So when you were growing up, did you, sounds like there wasn't much time to play with friends?

BO: Well, only place we would play with friends is that, maybe undoukai or something like that but the Japanese school or judo, kendo but only place. Other than that, we had to continue work because at that time, we didn't have the money to buy the equipment. Then later on, well, my brother had a chance to go to college, but he refused. Then Mom said that, after high school, I stayed home one year. She said, "You start going to Oregon Institute of Technology." So I went three years there and learn to do the mechanical work. The next one went to Oregon State. He was a ROTC. That's in New Orleans. And the one after that, no, he didn't go. But then we staggering, went one after another, start going to school.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

SG: So when you were living on the farm with your brothers and sister and your mom and dad, can you picture in your mind what your house look like?

BO: It's an old, it's a big building, house, large, and be about three of us in a bed, something like that, different room, cold in wintertime. Snow used to come in, old country home, and they're not partitioned, so we have two by four in between, you know. It was all planks layered in different angles. That's the kind of building that was, the planks like this, lean this way or this kind of angle so they won't shake. Even though it shake, it won't go down, old building.

SG: You shared rooms with your brother and sister?

BO: Huh?

SG: You shared bedrooms with your brother and sister?

BO: Yeah. Sisters had a different room, and brothers all, yeah, about three to a bed, got to do something.

SG: What was that, what was it like living in such a, that type of old house?

BO: I don't know. We came through it. Everybody else did too until they start modernizing and you get the later type of building.

SG: Growing up, did you ever get in trouble from your mom and dad?

BO: Me, not so much Mom. Sure I got scolded by Mom but not too much. Dad, yes. But like I said, my sister and I, we walked out and we headed about two and a half miles almost three miles to Gresham, then they found us, you know. But we were young kids, then, seventh grade, eighth grade. But other than that, we did our best. We bought a car and all that. They didn't teach us very much. They just said you do this, you do that, go get the driver's license. They don't even give us chance to even, in driving, they said go get driver's license. So okay, I take a truck. They won't let me have a car. They give me a truck to drive. So I take the truck out, and you have driving test and I passed, so then what happened? Got to haul cow manure and stuff from the dairy to home. That's why they want me to get driver's license because we always, well, my big brother, he gets about three loads a day. Me and my brother, we said we're four. We get four or five load a day, just work harder, and that's how hard we worked. And we keep Mom happy. We don't care about Dad. You know, there's a difference right there.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

SG: Did you speak English or Japanese with your brother and sisters?

BO: Well brother and sister, we spoke mostly English, but the folks were all Japanese. They think different.

SG: Your parents never spoke English?

BO: Huh?

SG: Your parents didn't speak English?

BO: No, mostly English, I mean Japanese, but outside was, they speak English. I made it all mixed up now. They speak Japanese at home, but sometime, they speak English in, business and stuff like that, market or store. That's old days.

SG: So your first language was Japanese growing up?

BO: Japanese, yeah, Japanese. So I go, when I was five and a half years old, little bit too old, too young, so they told me to stay home. When I was six, I went back and started speaking a little bit of English. But that's when the girls start to tease me, so I probably kicked one. So they tell you to stand in the corner, so they let me stand, made me stand in the corner, but I had no way of telling the teacher that I got to go, so I wet my pants. And the teacher said, "You better go home." So two and a quarter, two and a half miles to home, country road, so they told my sister, told her that she's excused to take me home.

SG: So then kindergarten, you couldn't speak any English?

BO: No, none, all Japanese.

SG: How did you survive that first year?

BO: I don't know. Little after you enter, you just play around, then you pick it up because your brothers are speaking English at home. Then finally, you catch on and start playing. It's rough.

SG: Were there other Japanese kids in your school other than your family?

BO: Yeah. There was one, two, two of them I guess, scattered around the country, but very few.

SG: Was it hard to make friends with the Americans for you?

BO: Make friends, they were kind of scared like, but they liked to tease us. The boys weren't too bad, but the boys were kind of like to, like saying the ice cross to the creek, you know. Oh yeah, we walk across that, come on, and they make you, ask you to walk across just so you step on the ice, you break through, all wet and cold, or make us chew the tar that's on the concrete pavement across the road. You take a tar out and start chewing. They said, "Good for your teeth." Or they'll take all the tree seed, you know. They said, "This is the Indian tobacco," and then roll it up like a Bull Durham, and start oh man, say oh, that's good for you. That's how they, like chewing tobacco or smoking, they say, "Come on, have one." And the older kids, hakujin kids, they used to play all kinds of tricks.

SG: So did you have any hakujin friends?

BO: That time? Oh, yeah. I had friends. We'd play or we'd go to school together or come home together. We had friends.

SG: What kind of things did you do together?

BO: If we were outside, we play [inaudible] or marbles or we used make beanie or try to hit a target, stuff like that which is illegal. We start playing game. Game was a lot of fun, softball. We used to really play hard.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

SG: Can you describe where your elementary school was like?

BO: Elementary school, well, actually, Pleasant Valley School was only a two room. That's all it was. It had all these kids in different classes, so you're supposed to be studying your own thing, but you listen to others, you know. And then you start helping the other, the higher up one. That's what I used to do, not paying attention. So even in the sixth grade, I had to stay after school. That's a, two girls start to tease me, and they used to take a pen and poke me because I'm studying too hard, then I jump and then get caught. Then they tell me that I was flirting with those girls. Then I had to stay in, no recess, no lunchtime, no nothing, stay inside all the time I'm there. And then later on, I had to stay after school after everybody's gone home, half an hour after school, then you got to walk home by myself. It was rough, but I was trying to catch that teacher. She was living in Montavilla, but she passed away, so I wanted to explain that those two girls are playing games, then I got stuck for that. I didn't tell them because if I told them that, those two girls would be in trouble, so I just took the consequence, stayed in, all the recess, all the lunch time, yeah. I'm an easy guy.

SG: How many kids were in the school?

BO: Now, you really got me, not too many though. But they did have eighth grade though, two rooms, then finally grew to a three room, Pleasant Valley. It's a nice school right now, new building.

SG: Did you enjoy going to elementary school?

BO: Oh, yeah. I had a lot of fun playing, not too much studying because Mom, Dad says why you better go to see Mrs. Gizi. She, she will help you learn like history and English. Now history, that gets me. Why should we learn history of the people that is being killed when we have lots of living people? So I didn't study history. But math, I was right on top. English wasn't so bad. But that history really got me. She made a remark one time that if my math wasn't so high, I would have to stay another year in grade school.

SG: Did you ever, you mentioned once you got in trouble, well, you didn't do anything, but were there any other times that you remember getting in trouble at school for doing something?

BO: I was a pretty good boy, you know. I did everything what the other kids did. They get in trouble, I got in trouble. Walk through the field, usually they don't, the owner don't tell on me but turn the other kids in, then he gets called by the principal not to cross the field. It's a shortcut, you know. I used to play real hard.

SG: What other things did you get in trouble for?

BO: Huh?

SG: What other things did you get in trouble for?

BO: You mean taking shortcuts through Iwamotos' berry field? Old man watching us, "Hey you kids are taking a shortcut through our berry field." It's really nice. Here we walk on and pick a berry to eat. When there is a regular row, take a walk. We used to go through that way or eat apples, grapes. And grapes were good, fill up our lunch pail. Or bakers used to make to have, make charcoals and looks like an outhouse, but then you open the outhouse, smoke smell. I remember we used to fill up, and you smelled as we go home, and I apologized that we did that. He says, "Oh, don't worry." They were just inside there laughing away. You could take all you want. They don't know to do with smelt, so they smoke them. And apples, Lipto Pastry, that was one of [inaudible] from the bakery, day old stuff, they end up dumping in a barn so they could feed to the pigs. We used to go in and, we used to go in and eat and help ourselves and eat cakes. Well, you can't do that. Or a lunch pail full of blue Concord grapes. They're good. But the lunch pail was our weapon. Every time we get in a fight, we use our lunch pail. We knock down the guys.

SG: What kind of, did your mom make your lunch for you?

BO: Yeah. We didn't have too good of, sometimes have peanut butter sandwich. We had lots of berries so she made a lot of jams. There were that many, all of a sudden, jam sandwich, jam sandwich, every day, jam sandwich. In high school, we used to always have paper bag, and we, all smash, jam sandwich. It's embarrassing but at least we survived. Everybody else had a regular lunch box and sandwiches and stuff. We had a, what is that? Kind that, in the paper sack and you sit on and smash it, brain food.

SG: No Japanese food?

BO: Very seldom. Sometimes we had sushi, was put in our lunch and then we eat. We're kind of bashful about eating Japanese food in front of the other students because they want to know what's what, good old days.

SG: The hakujin kids would, the white kids would give you a hard time for bringing Japanese --

BO: No, they didn't give a hard time. It's just that nosy. They want to know what the heck we eat. But we kind of hurry and eat and throw the rest away and then go about playing.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

SG: What happened, where did you go after elementary, the school day was over?

BO: We went, actually, we didn't play around. We went straight home. We were good kids. We went straight home, no more playing around here and there. But on our way home, we had our beanies. We practice shooting, we'd hit targets. Then there was a bull we pass, stand there. See that thing hanging between the legs, let's see if we can hit one. Boing. We hit it. [Laughs] We just hightailed it out there, never went back to that area again. Kids are kids, you know.

SG: Poor, bull, sounds painful. So you would go straight home and help with the farm work?

BO: Yeah, uh-huh. You always did the farm work. If it ain't farm work, we had to go in the barn and clean it all up and put new straw for the animals or close the fence gate and let the horses and cows out so that they could drink their water and eat the grass and stuff like that, make sure the gates and stuff are closed. We did all that.

SG: Was there any particular activity that you enjoyed doing on the farm? You have a favorite?

BO: Well, that's a good question too. We had to, like the rhubarb, like in spring, we had to undercover so they get more heat, so the rhubarb would start coming up fast or give the fertilizer, do the hoeing, keep the grass down. If you don't do it, it looks, run down family out on the farm. But if you do it, it looks beautiful. Strawberry, you got to hoe the grass down so that the, it won't be smothered by grass. Carrots, you got to crawl on your knees and pick all the grass out. That was a lot of work too. Take the horse out and put a harness on, take cultivator and cultivate. Cauliflower, cabbage, whatever, go out and cultivate. Dad don't say nothing. After they got the tractor, then I would come back home from OIT and stuff like that, I would take the tractor out and go out in the field. I think it supposed to be done, start that thing up and go and get it over with, but not my brother Jack. He always dug out. What he does is he gets a job here, a job from there, and he says, "You're going on that job." Well, how come me? So why go on the job? And he does the collecting. So he gave me a dollar watch. It vibrates so much that, the dollar watch fell all apart. So I almost tipped the tractor over. I sunk it in the mudhole. There was no way of me getting it out, but I'm all there by myself. So finally, I worked it out and worked it out, and it went back in the hole again. I got the plow, whatever I had on the, the plow, I bent the front end, bent that. I went down after it. There was nobody there to help me. I was stuck.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

SG: So, Mr. Ouchida, you were talking about going from school, elementary school, helping out on the farm and how hard the work was. Was there, it seemed, at the same time, it's something you enjoyed about working on the farm?

BO: Enjoyed? The only thing I enjoyed is that we are doing what Mom asked, not what Dad asked, so we get that done so that she'd be happy. And then she would buy the clothing and stuff like that, go town and buy clothing for us. She kept us dressed up; otherwise, we'd all look like a tramp.

SG: So you had mentioned that you went to Japanese school. When did you start going to Japanese school?

BO: Japanese school, approximately all of the, when we were fifth grade because the other Nihonjins were sending their kids going Japanese, and then Dad was for the judo, so we did that. Then later on, we did kendo. Like in high school, we went to do the kendo. But that used up our energy, so we won't get in trouble, but it was good sport, you know. But like Dad always told everybody, he says, "Oh, don't worry." We got one, as long as the horse is working, the rest of the family can go play, so you work your horse acres after acres. They're going out again, but that's the country life. You keep the horse going because we didn't have a tractor. But after that, we had a wheel tractor and stuff like that. We just go and get it all done.

SG: How often did you go to Japanese school?

BO: Three times a week and then judo about two times a week. But you know, you go Japanese school, and then you see those girls start giggle, laughing, and you expect us to keep up with them, us kids, the way we are. We're just like a tag along, you know. All the kanji and stuff like that we had to try and learn. Oh, boy. That's why I keep telling everybody that's the beginning of our secret weapon for the Asian Pacific Theater. That's the beginning, or you know, sit on the benjo and would pass up. He said, "What's the matter with you guys? You've been missing bed check," said, bad food. He said, "You got your pants all up, not down." [Laughs] That's how hard they studied, under the blankets. They have a light under the blanket. Boy, they sure studied. You just can't study that hard and expect to master that language. To me, it's like a chicken scratch. But it's a serious business though when you get out to war. You're out there with yourself or maybe you might have a partner, and you have to face it, you know. That's what happened out there, so, because we couldn't find or produce enough people. Boy, it's rough. Lots of lawyers and stuff, they all came in from California, Hawaii. One of them had seven or eight kids, and he came in leaving the family behind. But they all tried to get their ranks back. They can't get it because they're all ROTC or something like that, but they won't let them have the rank back. In a way if you think about it, if they give the rank, they figured that he got, he knows something, have to get rid of that guy. If you don't have no rank or anything, oh, he's just another, dummy so that's why we have to keep our mouth shut fifty-some years.

SG: I want to, I just want to, a few more questions on Japanese school and then some more about your experience in the military. In Japanese school, what type of, what did you learn? What type of things --

BO: Katakana. Katakana, you know, beginner, and we started Montavilla, then we changed to Gresham, and then they make us start over again, from beginning again. In other words, memorize it, you can just, just sat there and, sound right off because you memorize it so many times, you know. She changed school, and it was good. And some of those instructors, they turn out, too, like Colorado, Ann Arbor. They went that way because something to do. Some of them came to our school, but most of them went out to college or university and teach over there.

SG: What was Japanese school like?

BO: In civilian life?

SG: Or going to it when you were a kid going to Japanese school here?

BO: Yeah. Well, we really enjoyed that you get with each other and play around, then go in this room and study hard, then go outside play around again, chasing each other. It was a lot of fun, ball games. It's things that's different from farm work. Of course, I don't know. You only have about three hours, two and a half, three hours, then you got to go and drive home again, it's a short time. But it's good.

SG: It sounds like you really enjoyed going to Japanese school?

BO: Yeah, it was, it was good. I learn a lot of, I liked to learn some more, you know. Like my older brother, he was learning hiragana and stuff like that, and it was getting complicated, but it was good, a lot of fun. At home, Dad, he had a pad made out and sumi, you make sumi and word for day. We supposed to write, and all that. We used to write, like old fashioned, they write. We were practicing that, how to write that, press, but that didn't go too far either because you get to high school, the thing starts to, well, we had judo and kendo and they're different nights and kept us busy at night. Still same time we had to, we have to study or night packing, packing our Brussels sprout or broccoli or pack at nighttime. You harvest daytime then haul it in. And after, we had to stay up in nighttime, warm room and bundle them up or crate them up together and load up the truck, so Dad could take it in the morning. So finger work, finger work, I was doing just as fast but right along with my mom, so she liked that, that I sit right by her and do the same thing, go fast. The others always get tired, so we just let them go. I would stay right along and finish it, then go in and take a furo and then retire. I like a furo here too, furo pool.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

SG: You mentioned you did judo too?

BO: Yeah, we did judo, and I think that judo is a good defense. Well of course, we used that in grade school, judo on some kids. And then kendo, we kind of, I don't know dangerous too. You have a weapon. But if you don't have that kendo and you're able to stand up, straight up and give a kiai or yell, I think the combination of the two make a good team for defense which you'll find out later on because this accident happened, but it comes out automatically.

SG: How long did you do kendo and judo for?

BO: Judo, I almost got the, I didn't get the black belt in judo because I got hurt. But the kendo, you stand straight up and do it. I almost black belt. Then I used to sneak out to Tacoma, bukkyokai. They said they have the kendo, so I say, "Okay, I'll come to kendo." I was doing kendo at Tacoma. He says, "I want you to come out for the instructor." I said, "I can't." Why? You know, when you have a physical inspection, you're all black and blue. There are no white black and blue, you know. You get pounded by the amateurs. It was pretty sore, but I didn't say nothing, when I go back to service. That was before the war. I used to go out there, and they like to see me come, and they all start laughing. Hey, this guy is not beginner, to pound more. Oh, they hurt.

SG: You competed around here in kendo and judo?

BO: Yeah, we did. We did, but I didn't too much. I didn't do judo too much because I was injured anyway. But kendo, we did have, we had Nakamura Sensei that came from Japan. Somehow we were related to that man, Nakamura, and then Shimozono was his helper, and he came to service. He came in as a mainland group. Mainland group is boys that's in service and then came in. He came in, Nishimura, he was a staff, and he said he will take over that one platoon, and I said, "No. Just stay calm and we don't know each other and just let this hakujin with a sergeant stripe handle it." So we left there. And then finally, he, Shimozono got shipped out. But Shimozono turned out that, was a boyfriend for Ted Hachiya's wife or boyfriend, but they didn't get married. Ted Hachiya got married to her because he was coming up through here, but I don't know where he went. But if we mention kendo, they didn't like it at the school. They shipped them out, someplace else. But judo was all right, so I didn't tell them that, but I kept my mouth shut. I said, "Just keep quiet and be able to get through," so he went through. And I didn't mention that. This part, I was mentioned it. They didn't like kendo. The one sergeant went to staff, he was kendo. They sent him Mississippi. And later on, he come back up to visiting, first sergeant, good. People with kendo is more shanto. They stand straight up and, approach you, but the judo, hunch over a little bit. So that's what I tell my dad too. I says, "The kendo is good because they straighten you up and command everything is sharp." The judo, you hunch over. You grab a hold of each other. But actually, when it comes to defense and stuff, you don't touch each other. You just, quickly move his feet and let him go down by himself, he tells you that. But it comes out automatically.

SG: So was kendo popular among the Japanese community?

BO: Yeah, it was. It was because, but the only thing, too much pounding, pound your head or jab your throat or wrist on the side, especially on this side. It was just black and blue. They miss the armor. They get above it, you know. It's all black and blue. But it makes you stand up like a man and face it, but that's what that is, you know. It's you or I, just like fencing, you know.

SG: So did, when you had the tournaments, how often did you have kendo tournaments?

BO: About once a year. Once a year, they would come out, you know. But you don't, the only time you practice is when you're there. But other times, you don't do that at home. Judo sometime, you go home and you take a scrap with your brother, poor kids, be kind of a big brother. Yeah, Dad, he always used to say, "Hey, you better quit. You might get hurt."

SG: Did people come from, where did people come from to come to do judo or kendo, when you had the tournaments?

BO: Oh, it's in our community, the counties. They get together and have a competition, of each other, see who get it. Sumo too, yeah. They had a sumo in downtown. They had sumo in, sure enough you can tell, you know. You start in, boom. Well, that guy is doing judo. You can tell right away. It's not like the old time sumo, out there big and grab a hold. It ain't like that.

SG: Sounds like the sporting events was, helped bring the Japanese community from different areas together?

BO: Yeah, yeah, it did. Yeah, it really did bring them back, and my dad used to support them. He was, so he'd forget about the farm and pay more attention to the kendo and judo. He invited those big shots, Nakamura.

SG: Were there any other type of activities that brought the Japanese communities from different parts of Oregon and Washington together?

BO: No, I don't think so. I don't think, they had baseball, but I don't know how far they got on baseball or boxing or anything like that. Judo and kendo was the most popular one. Of course, the Buddhist church too, they had get together. Kendo, you got hit in the head and get the brains knocked out.

SG: So it sounds like it wasn't too often that you would interact with other Japanese or Japanese American communities?

BO: No, not really, stayed home. The only thing they did have, they had a picnic. You know, different areas have picnic. You say let's go do that, no let's go this. But still on the other hand, we didn't go to the Milwaukie picnic or, mostly G/T, Gresham/Troutdale picnic. There they have all kinds of prizes, you do this and do that. A race or anything like that, you get prizes which is quite a thrill too.

SG: What kind of prizes did you get?

BO: Oh, they even give a sack of rice, a sack of rice, I don't know whether the distant run or something like that. Yeah, they have a sack of rice or shoyu or all kind stuff. I don't know. To me, it's like lots of work. I like the easy street, go down that and boy, eat those sushis and stuff that the mom makes, you know.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

SG: Did you ever go to Japantown growing up?

BO: Japantown, no. We were kind of scared because Chinatown is right there. But the sumo was down there. They have sumo, and then we used to go to the deep bath which felt real good, but that's about all, Japantown. People down there, they talk too fast for us slowpoke farmers. Besides, they talked a different language. I think they talk Tokyo language, more national language, us, a Kyushu language. Like in service, they say, they talk to them, they said, "Oh, this guy from Kyushu." They're the slow and the thick headed, stubborn. You can't make him do anything, Kyushu kids. We're from Kyushu.

SG: So the city kids, the Japantown kids and the farm kids like yourself, what was that relationship like?

BO: They kind of, they didn't mix and mingle with each other too much. It's kind of separate because five of them from Hawaii. I see it, but I don't know about other people. Like Columbia Slough kids, they're tough. They're strong too. We must be the weaklings, but that's the way it was.

SG: Any other differences between the kids who lived in Japantown and the kids who lived outside of Japantown?

BO: That's again a tough question now. There is a difference because one who lives in town, they speak better Japanese and not much English. But out in the country, they always speak English. You know the Nisei language, nobody could understand the Nisei language. That's what they used to say, can't understand Nisei language all mixed with English. You have to live with it.

SG: When you were growing up, what was it like for you to go, actually go into Japantown? What did it feel like?

BO: When I go to Japantown, I kind of hold myself back because we're lower rated people than they are. Not actually, but that's how you feel because you just seem like hide behind the door or something like that, so we kind of hold back. We're from the country. You know, the language we speak is what the mom and dad speaks. We don't speak like town people. Town people is... you don't know what they're saying, go so fast.

SG: So did you ever feel any direct discrimination from the people in Japantown?

BO: No, no. The only thing is the people from Japan, the kids who went to Japan and back, they're the ones that we're having problem with because they think they're real good. They could really sling it, you know. And after that, Kibeis, so we had battled all the way through until they simmered down at the intelligence school. They simmered down and help each other.

SG: What kind of things did they do to you?

BO: Huh?

SG: What kind of things did the kids who came from Japan do?

BO: Oh, they think, they think they are real good. They're smart because they go to, talk it and all. Yeah. They think they're better than anybody else, so we try and stay away from them. We're not that rich to send the kids to Japan and study. Then they lose time over here. The boys over here, stay right through and go to school and all that. But over there, you have lost time. There's a difference right there.

SG: Any other memories you have of Japantown?

BO: No. Only thing I... they're all business, you know. They all want to sell, make money. The kids are running around all over. I don't see how they can control kids. I know the farmers did get out there, do this, do that, and you stay there, but not downtown. They're running around all over.

SG: So when you got your, when you, you mentioned when you were in high school, you got your driver's license. Did you ever go into the city with your friends?

BO: No, no. When we drive, we drove wherever they tell us we could drive and that's all, and we returned the car. We went to Montavilla Japanese School or Gresham G/T, or Japanese school or something like that. But other than that, we didn't go off track.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

SG: So what was high school like for you, Mr. Ouchida?

BO: Huh?

SG: What was high school like for you, going to high school here, an American high school?

BO: Yeah.

SG: What was that like? What was your experience like?

BO: You mean go to Gresham High School? That's where I went. There's a difference in class. We're low class people, I guess, and hakujins all, we were kind of free, I mean they were kind of free, and we were kind of tied down. We only could do certain things because of the order that the parents gave us, you know. You got to do this and come home, no horse around. You get in trouble. We all came home.


SG: So it seems we were talking Gresham High School. So what was, describe going, what was it like going to Gresham High?

BO: Oh, Gresham High, the bus was a lot of fun. But the high school itself, well, they say you better take agriculture, so I took future farmer, but future farmer says that you got to have an acre of this project, but Dad never gave us any acreage that I could take for a project and keep record of it. So I got caught on that and a lot of things. Folks don't understand what we have to have in the school course. But it was, biology and stuff was very interesting. I liked it just like algebra or geometry. But history or literature, I don't know. I don't know who could understand literature and half of it Latin, so I flunked that. I'm not ashamed of it. [Laughs]

SG: You said your parents had a hard time understanding what was going on in school for you?

BO: Well, they weren't interested in that or they can't even help us. We didn't have electric light. We had to use a gas mantle, mantle light, open up. We had that kind of light. And later on, we finally got the electric light, but it was hard studying at home. But that's only four years.

SG: Did you play sports?

BO: Huh?

SG: Did you play sports at the high school?

BO: No. We didn't have time to play sports. Mom wants me hurry up come home and got to do this, do that, so I always came home. Even though I have to hitchhike and beat the bus, I used to do that and get home, then load up and head to the Pacific Fruit and dump it there and see how much, what we can get out of that. I used to drive to town. I would like to have done the sports, but I don't know. We didn't get a chance because we were doing the kendo and judo, sumo at a time, but kendo and judo.

SG: What sport would you have liked to played?

BO: Oh, I don't know. You ask me now.

SG: Or back then, what sport did you want to play in high school?

BO: Well, see, we used to play soccer or softball, stuff like that in grade school. But when it comes to high school, oh, no more. You forget all about it and come home. It's survival, big family, but we did it. If we didn't do it, we'd be the laughing stock on the, among the Japanese race, because they always look at each other, and they start laughing. Although my dad always -- certain family was suffering this and that, he would go down and try to help them out, but I didn't see anybody come and help us out.

SG: What was your relationship like with the students at your high school?

BO: Come again now?

SG: How was your relationship with the other students at Gresham High School?

BO: Oh, among the students, we used to have a lot of fun as long as they just study or anything like that or horsing around. There was a lot of horsing around, in class or you get caught. But I used to like to go in the library and sit and study over there where it is much peaceful where you can't even whisper and take some books out, things like that, lost in the high school instead of going to the study room.

SG: Did you, were you able to make friends at Gresham High School?

BO: Yeah, friends, we had lots of friends, all kinds. The boys are all friendly, play around, but we're tied at home, you know. You can't... financial and all that, and they didn't give us spending money or anything like that, so you were tied down. So naturally, you got to behave and go home.

SG: Were there a lot of Japanese kids at Gresham High School?

BO: Yeah, it started getting quite a bit, quite a few, smart one too. You think that they just sit there and study, but they're really smart. I don't know if you know Matt Fujimoto. He passed away earlier, but he was almost a perfect student in grades. All the rest, boy, real smart. I don't know if they're acting smart or they're actually smart.

SG: Were most of your friends Japanese?

BO: No, no. We're more favored toward the hakujin, more white. In grade school, we're all white, around the white, so yeah. Japanese though, the only thing is kendo and judo or Japanese school. But other than that, we don't mingle. But the hakujin, we make friends any time.

SG: So the white people treated you and your family pretty well?

BO: Yes, yes. Of course, they didn't welcome into the house or anything like that. It's like a second-class race, I guess, but we didn't want to be bothered, bother them either. I don't know which one comes first, but we didn't go in there. But their families were real nice. But our family, too many kids anyway, so, and out in the country, so they didn't think to come and visit us.

SG: Is there anything else you remember, your experience in going to Gresham High?

BO: I took Gresham High because, just because I can't have no cooperation at home, have to flunk a class or this and that. But naturally, the literature, I can't understand that because I can't do that lingo they use. But the rest of it, geometry or any of those science, boy, I'm right at the top. But some of those subjects, I can't have because I didn't pass this one or that one. They won't let me have it. It kind of makes me sorry, but I did my best. And they all come in handy when you go, after you finish high school, you know. You could use them. So I always said like history, it's nice to know, but gee, who wants to know about the people that already passed away? It's better to learn something they did if they're living, you know. That's what I hate about history. And I always ask, wondered how come like the Civil War, why don't they come out with a map? It's a certain day, you know. This general did this or this general did that, and then draw the picture how they progressed and who won the war. They don't have that. You had to just read it. Well, that's pretty hard, just read and figure out where they're at. Where's Saratoga at? Chattanooga. Is it in Georgia or, there's two Chattanooga, things like that. That's what used to get me in history. History [inaudible]. So I have a tape. It says north and south. The thing says north and south, the battlefield, kind of late but I got a tape. One of these days, they're going to show it in a group here, movie group.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

SG: So growing up here in Oregon, when looking back at childhood up through high school, do you remember some of the, one of the most difficult times for you and your family?

BO: Well, we ate though. You always go out in the field and get cucumber or corn or whatever you want, bring it in and eat. That part was all right. But other than that, informal, I guess. But in Gresham like Dad says, even during the war, he says, "Oh yeah, come on in but don't come through the front door." That's Gresham. We go in all trucks and tractors and cars through them. You come to the back door and we'll help you out.

SG: Why didn't they want you to go through the front door?

BO: It says "No Jap Allowed." So you just come right to the back door and they'll help you out. Mr. Zimmerman at Zimmerman's Corner, he had a fruit stand there, and he says, "Oh, yeah. We get you anything you want, rice, I get you lots." So he set up lots of rice and lots of this that the Japanese like. He had them to help the Japanese, and he sold it. He made money. That's how he grew.

SG: So was there discrimination like that before the war?

BO: Maybe there was a little, but I didn't go out too much, so I don't know. I got out of that one.

SG: So looking back, what, as a Japanese American growing up here in Oregon, what did you most enjoy about growing up here?

BO: Well, one of the things is trips. You know, you can see all kinds of different countries, all the falls, farming. You get to see all that wide open country. But then again, it takes time to do that. You go fishing. Why the fishing, the hired man used to take us out to go fishing, crappie fishing in Lake Oswego. But other than that, smelt; otherwise, you just have to just stay home.

SG: So what happened after high school for you?

BO: After high school, I kind of felt lonesome because, see, after going through grade school then high school, twelve years, and then all of a sudden, no school. So you look around, everybody's going to school, and you're home. So you stay home and you work hard, do everything you can, and get, you all done. Then all of a sudden my mom says, "This year, you're going to go to school," just like that. So I looked at her, said, "You learn mechanics," so she sent me to Oregon Tech over there on Fourteenth and Taylor. So I take a bus and streetcar go down, down Fourteenth and Taylor and then go back. Three years I did that. Then drafts come out and, actually, we studied mechanical to go in service and help in the [inaudible]. That's what Mom said. I didn't, I get, didn't do too much at home, but I've jumped the gun again.

SG: Did you want to go back to something else?

BO: No, no, no, no.

SG: So were there other Japanese at the technical school?

BO: Oh, yes. There was... let's see, what was his name? He used to work for Freight Line. He worked there one year, and then I look around for him, he was gone. So then I said, "What happened to that guy?" He's from Parkrose and take care of, just a mechanic. But the parents, they sent him to Japan, then he get caught over there in Japan Air Force and served there, then he got married there. Then he comes back. He worked for Freight Line, transportation man. He's pretty sharp. I think, there was Issei was trying, but that's about all. Me, I worked gas engines and worked a diesel. I put the electrical and finish that, then I tried to stay home one year, then the draft got me.

SG: Why did your parents want you to study at --

BO: Mechanical?

SG: Mechanical?

BO: Because we are, you're buying more and more mechanical cars, trucks, tractors, more mechanical things, and someone has to be home to take care of them. And she says, "When you're farming or anything like that, you are actually working hard to support the mechanical equipment." That's where all the money are going into. You had to pay for it, then you have to maintain it. It all costs. So I didn't do too much mechanical work at home because everything was new yet.

SG: So your parents wanted you to stay on and help on the farm?

BO: Oh, yeah. They refused me to get drafted. He says, "Well, you're going in first? You go in and try to wind the road for the others that is coming in." What do you mean, wind the road for others? I thought he was telling them that they could do it themselves, but then I told them I'm going to be a private. I got to, I haven't got a chance to go anyplace else, help, but I did go. They tell me so and so is coming in. I said, okay. Then I would walk mile something, mile and a half to a service center and find them and talk to them, you know. It's almost like a Boy Scout, a lot of horseplay going on, but you got to listen to sergeants that never goes to bed. Eleven o'clock, they turn the light on or 6 o'clock, wake you up. "When do these guys go to bed?" we used to say. Oh, they were really a loudmouth at first. But after you get used to it, there's nothing to it, you know.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

SG: Were you drafted before or after Pearl Harbor?

BO: I was drafted ten months before Pearl. That I want to tell you, February 20, 1941, yeah, '41. I was supposed to go in December of '40, but the volunteer pushed me back to next one, so I got drafted on February 20, 1941, and December 7th of '41. So I was in ten months but one week private and next acting corporal. Then you serve so much time, then you get the certificate. You're a full corporal. Then they can't take that corporal away from you. It takes a court martial to take that stripe away because mine is not a temporary corporal. It's a permanent corporal. Then you can go and actually get promoted on up, you know. It all takes time. But one year draft, I think often. I didn't sign no paper. I stayed in. As long as they need me, I served the best I can. We're on different subject now. Full ride, I got a sergeant. They want me to be a staff, staff to take over the, not the motor pool that I was in charge of. They want me to take over the motor repair shop, and a hakujin was in there. I didn't see him. I asked the major who's up there, you know. He's a hakujin. "Well, I want you to go up there and straighten that thing up." I said, "No. I got these boys to watch, take care them." I go there's nobody here who wanted to take the lead and stick their nose out and iron itself out. So the major says, well, see, I didn't take that staff sergeant at that time. I could have taken staff. And then the intelligence got me. Then I had to leave the boys back and go to the intelligence, but that's all in there.

SG: How did you feel when you were, first heard you were drafted?

BO: Oh, boy, everybody doing this, doing that, you know. There's formation. Formation you go out there, "What the heck am I doing here?" All the big giants standing there with a rifle, and me a little shrimp. That's exactly what you are, little tiny guy with all that. Then we go marching down the road, you know. They said, "Butt right, butt right." Where is your butt? Butt right, no that's wrong way. Butt right, butt left, see the rifle, see. That's what you get the first time. He shut his mouth, butt right. You better tape that. [Laughs]

SG: How did your mom feel about you being drafted?

BO: Mom, she missed me, you know. I kind of felt sorry, but you know, she had tears. But other than that, said, "Take care yourself," and I told her not to worry, you know. It will be like, the way I explained it is like a Boy Scout camp that we all take care yourself and do what they tell you on time, you know. Well, Dad didn't want me to go because there's no more, nobody to drive the horse or tractors. But my brother was there, and he had to do everything. Boy, he really missed me. He never jumped on me after that. Till then, he always jumping on me about this or that or going too fast. After that, he never jumped on me because I always stayed in the service. Boy, I hope he was in here with me to see what we are going through. He will change his mind, but he never came in. What he did is he volunteered for the Multnomah County Sheriff Pistol Club, and he was practicing pistol, and he got a lot of medals on pistol and still stayed home and take care the folks, but that was fine. Here we're out there, you know. And the, "You." "What?" "You're a corporal." You're in charge of this or you're in charge of that. They don't tell you what you're supposed to do, you know. They give you rank, and so you do the best you can. You keep your eyes open and do the best you can, what you're supposed to do and do it. They, keep going military? And then you look up, and the company commander, Captain Heinichen, Heinichen is German? Oh, tough guy, you know. Boy, I think that guy got lots to do with it because even that I was a Japanese and they, nobody tried to pick on me. But here again on the base, they tried to pick on me, and that's when they got whammed. It's in there. I'm an innocent guy. I didn't touch those guys.

SG: When you're going to, when you left -- first left for boot camp, did your mom or dad say anything to you? What did they say to you in Japanese?

BO: They said since I'm going in first, that they tried to [inaudible]. That's wind the road for the others that's coming in and take care yourself. That's what they told me. So I turn around to Dad, I says, "You know, I'm going in as a private. How can I step out of line and tried to wind the road for the other guys?" The other guys can wind the roads themselves. I tell him that. I said, "Well, I'm going to go in and do the best I can." And as you see, I did.

SG: You were the first Japanese American?

BO: Draftee. The draftee got to be in there, in the State of Oregon. It got put on the newspaper. See the newspaper article, Gresham Outlook and all that, it's all in there. You can look at it. I'm a railroad, lots of railroad in the army.

SG: So were you scared?

BO: Oh, yeah. I was scared because all the other big guys do this, do that, lots of horseplay too. It was the army cots, they break a leg, look like normal, you know. So you come home and you get in the bed, you're sitting on the floor. The hakujins, they do a lot of horseplay. But Nihonjin wasn't that way. I ran into Nihonjin as I left Fort Lewis to go to the, let's see. I went to... anyway, from thereon, I ran into all Nihonjin. They're more cooperative and they watch yourself, and everything is just orderly. You don't have to tell them too much either. They all do it, real nice.

SG: Why do you think that is?

BO: Education. All Nihonjin has gone to high school, and a lot of them has entered into college, that I'm going to say. So you cannot go and tell you did this wrong or that. They know what they did. They all went to high school. That's what the parent did, made sure that the kids all went to high school so they won't be below their next door's kid, so have a good cooperation. They understand things faster, and they do it. It will come up later on.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

SG: Where were you when you found out about Pearl Harbor?

BO: Well, I just happened to get a... let's see. I flew and landed in the hospital. As I lay in there, Pearl Harbor. Then they start to call me Jap, saying this and that, you know. I said, "The heck with it." So when the medic officer came by, I says, I want a, get out of there and return to my company. Why? Because if our outfit, a quartermaster, a heavy maintenance was attached to third infantry and third infantry is going to the last person, I have to go with them so that I could interpret the prisoners. There's no other guy in the company that could interpret the prisoners, so I want to be released and go return to company. And there was three medic officers, they got together and talk. And then I told them, "I promise I will report to my medics in my company and then go on from there." He said, "Okay. You promise you'll report to your company medic?" I says, "Yes, sir." So he signed that release, and I went back to company. That's Pearl Harbor.

SG: How did you feel when you heard the news that Japan had bombed Hawaii?

BO: Sick. After all the hard work we're doing from now, now we're by ourselves. We can't turn around and look at our folks or anybody. We got to do it by ourselves and face it and do it. That's how I look at it, and that's how we did it. I did it.

SG: When you say we, when you say we had to do it by ourselves, who are you --

BO: In other words, take care yourself. Then about a month or so later, you look around the company, you see the big stockade floodlights on, all three or four hundred Niseis all in the stockade, only fatigue uniform, not OD now, fatigue uniform with a guard around it, and I was about three blocks away from that. And I used to watch them go to the theater for orientation, stuff like that, just don't feel good, you know. But here I am corporal and I have care doing my duty. They sent me to, well, I'm not supposed to be in any maintenance of any kind, but they sent me to a [inaudible] which is where you tear the engine all apart and the overhaul, put it back together, and master sergeant says, "Come on, come on." See they had me take, I'm in charge of electrical coverage in department, no test equipment, nothing, just bare. But they asked me, come here. I said, "What's up Sarge?" They worked on the motor and they can't get it started. So I said you get up there and see, I want to see what it is doing. So I went, put my hand over the choke, no vacuum. You have to have vacuum to get a choke to operate and suck the gasoline over. So I look around for gas, missing gas. So I put my hand in between the block and the head intake manifold, there's a hole there. They forgot to put the plug in there. Well, the moment I put my finger on that, boy, it just started right up, and you should see that sergeant. He just fly out of the seat running around. If there was an oil spark, he would have taken a spill. But he didn't, he came running, and he said, "What did you do?" "Nothing." "What do you mean nothing?" I just put my finger between the block and the mouth, and there's a wash plug that has been left out. So he put his hand there, and oh, boy, you don't know whether he's mad or happy. Boy, he's really up in the air, and I laughed. I got nothing to do with the rest of it, just to diagnose that. All that time, they were trying to start it. They can't use the common sense. Here's where I think my folks sent me to school, and here I'm using in the army, helping them. That's one of the problem.

SG: When you heard about Pearl Harbor, you said you felt sick. Was there other Japanese in the military you could talk to about --

BO: You're on your own, nobody. That's how thin we were. You might find more in the medics or something like that or anti-tank, but that's where they get them I guess because I was in quartermaster, maintenance.

SG: So how did your, the Pearl Harbor affect your family?

BO: They were sick. They even made a trip all the way to Fort Lewis, come down and see me. And when they do, they tell me about, then I go to the commanding officer and I asked him, tell him that my folks are coming up. Then he will give an okay that he could come into Fort Lewis and come to quartermaster to see me. But not the state cop. So my brother, he drove up the highway and the state cop stops him says, "We're supposed to stop all the Orientals and ask why," and license is Oregon, you know. And I told him, "My CO's gave the okay, so they came," you know. If you're going to take him, well, you better take me too even though I'm in uniform.

SG: What happened?

BO: Nothing. They said, "Well, okay, you can go now, but I can guarantee you that you're going to get stopped many times on the way home."

SG: How did your parents feel about this?

BO: Well, they were scared, I guess. They were scared.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

SG: You mentioned that you were in the army, and then when Pearl Harbor hit, they rounded up the Nisei?

BO: They made a stockade that three to four hundred Niseis were put in there. And from there, they marched them to the theater for orientation in fatigue clothes, never in the OD. They weren't in regular army uniforms. They were in working clothes. And like Watanabe, the car salesman in Seattle, said he was one of them too. But yeah, I used to see one guy over there standing, looking, watching us walk over to the theater. One went nuts because floodlights and all that, and they had a guard walking around. And one time I heard that they had to use those people to practice guard duty around the stockade. Either way, you're going to practice guard duty or whether to protect those men that's in service and put them over there, I don't know. But anyway, they didn't like on the record that they were in the stockade. But I got nothing to do with that because I was in my own company. And then in my company, a heavy duty maintenance quartermaster and they put me out in the [inaudible] with a master sergeant. He would stomp up there, put me back in our own company semi-trucks. Well, they couldn't figure out like in convoy, you go down the highway and the lights keep going out on the trailer. Why is the light going out? Nothing wrong with the wiring, no. It's a new truck, new trailer. So I got into it, and I find out that the trailer cord, one isn't ground. One is a left and right. But when it comes at end of the cord and it plugs in, that plug itself has no ground. The electricity got to go through the line, go back through the fifth wheel on the grease and grease is insulator. If you jerk and break through the grease, the light comes on. The moment you slack off it, it's all insulated, so light all goes out. So they didn't catch on to that. So I went and got some spool of wire, took the plugs out and start putting in the short wire and ground it, and I don't know how many trailers I got fixed. They say you're not supposed to be in maintenance at all, so they put me out, half finished. So I told the captain that they should tell the manufacturer to put the ground in the burnt plug on the trailer where the trailer cord plugs in. The lights, electricity hasn't got a chance to come back to the ground on the truck. Makes sense? "Oh, you're a good electrician." He's getting all the, I told him, "I'm schooling you." But I get my feet off the ground, breathe deep. The captain was surprised and he agreed, but he can't change a whole army to reject all those trailers or give out orders to put short leads on them. All the new trailers they had had no ground lead. They relied too much on that fifth wheel. When you walk around, all this long haul, you find out battery ground is on the fifth wheel plate to the frame. What good is it? Trailers sitting on top, not the plate, they had to ground the trailer. So we used to laugh, wasting all that money buying battery cable and drilling holes in [inaudible]. Why just throw them away. Yeah, that's how wasteful they are, the long haul trucks are, they forget. That's where we came in, where I came in finally. I studied electrical, carburetor, transmission, all that stuff.

SG: So I had a question about, I was curious why they rounded up other Nisei soldiers but not you?

BO: That's a good question. I mentioned earlier that Captain Heinichen is a German. If he was, is he protecting me, you know. And Japan was joining up with the German or is he covering up for me? That's what I'm after. You answer, I can't, but that's the way it looks to me.

SG: You're not sure why you were able to get out of being in the stockade?

BO: Huh?

SG: You're not sure how you --

BO: I think that's the reason. And then on top of that, I'm a full corporal. You don't take a noncom or corporal and stick them in the stockade unless you take the rank off. That's good assumption. I know it's just short of it.

SG: Were there any other Nisei who didn't, weren't put in the stockades?

BO: No, I don't know. I never walked around Four Rivers to find out.

SG: But as far as you knew in your company and people you knew, you were the only one who didn't.

BO: I didn't go in. But then again, I was working on maintenance. See I was working on the trailer lights and stuff, I was working on those things, yeah. And then on guard duty, I was carrying a .45 live ammunition. So when I go on guard duty on foggy morning, I go to PX or canteen and I buy candy, then I walk and check my boys. I say, "You want candy? Pick out what you want," and I give it to them. But the one upstairs, see that sergeant from the other company, he jaywalks right company, and he won't stop. Well, just holler at him. Well, I pulled my .45, live ammunition now, see. How come? We're at war. Boy, that guy, he just froze right there, and we told him, next time, you're going to get a bullet in your, you know. My guard, he was scared, but I told him I will pull it because we're at war. That's the only time I pulled it. And that sergeant, he stopped and came back. He's shaking me up now, you know. You guys make me happy. I'm tying up.

SG: This was in Washington --

BO: Fort Lewis.

SG: Fort Lewis.

BO: Fort Lewis.

SG: How long were you in Fort Lewis?

BO: I left there about November, I guess. Of course we went to, summertime we went to California, California maneuver, then we came back and they had a, California came up to Northwest maneuver. And when that's over, then we had this deal going on, so must be about March, February, March. I got shipped out with the guys that I don't know. It tells you that the mess hall gave me a box of apple, said you're shipping out and your group is waiting by the car, and you're in charge of that and go to Leavenworth, head for Leavenworth. You get off at Leavenworth. Each one at Camp Crowder and all that, all spread out. No officer in charge. All troop train must have an officer in charge. But in this case, no officer in charge, just us guys in charge of the car. Now that box of apple when they gave us at mess hall, wow, they don't know me, so I brought that in. I says, "We're going to have an apple a day till it's gone." And sure enough, those Niseis, they made sure that everybody got an apple. One that don't want an apple, I just leave it there, and we, it lasts us three days, and the last one in the car has to clean up that car, so I didn't have to do nothing. You know, that's how they really help you out, the Nisei. They all worked together. You don't have to boss them or anything. If you had to boss them, just leave that guy alone. The other guy will tell him, so it went pretty good. We got off at Fort Leavenworth. [Laughs] Not the penitentiary now, the Fort. When we get off, Sergeant says, "Now listen. See that thing over there standing, that's the penitentiary, federal penitentiary over there. In the back is a guardhouse, so think before you do anything." So then say, okay, and then they put us up. I told the boys, that's what I told them, right there in Leavenworth, I told them that you got your uniform. You lost your home. Your folks, you don't know where your folks are at now. They're all scattered, but take good care of that uniform, and that's your home. You'll get paid and be sure and don't come home with shame. Don't shame your uniform, then you're safe. Don't shame your folks or anybody, and then you'll get paid while you're in that uniform. You're busted or anything, bring shame. So the boys all worked together, and we had the good job too. Boys are all, anytime they say anything like the warehouse job that they issue new uniform, and boy, they really did a wonderful job and they liked us. And then they want us to be at a garrison soldier to exhibit our formation and march and all that. Major couldn't keep us there. But after we got done with there, they shipped us to Fort Riley. And boy that Fort Riley, officer, man the long one. You stand there, the officer, three, four of them stand there and then they tell me to read it. I stood there and read it, read the name, and they're supposed to tell me the last four numbers of the serial number. So you listen to them and if it's correct, they keep on going and load up. Boy and some names I haven't even heard of, never seen. How you read this one? Then all three of them kind of giggle, then I catch on and I saw, this is where the kendo kiai comes in, loud and clear, and then they reply back on the last four number. Well, I was pooped out. When I finished, I told them who I was. Then you think that the officer or anybody helped me bring my bags to the car? No. I had to lug that bag from down the car myself then find out which car it is and get on the train, but I did it.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

SG: What was your responsibility at that time in the army?

BO: Army, I was just a corporal and in charge of warm bearings and, a group of Niseis, told them to keep a real GI everything just perfect, bed and everything. When they come in and inspect, they're proud. They never seen a -- men that display all the, everything just perfect, just line the rail. That's my outfit.

SG: All Nisei in your outfit?

BO: Yeah, that one, only in platoon. The rest of them, I don't know. So then they try to keep us as garrison soldiers so they could demonstrate in front of them, forward march, right flank, left flank, rear march, all that.

SG: How were you treated by your men?

BO: Well, they, the men, well, we don't know each other, but you know, since I had the rank and all that, I never pulled it. I just, my duty is my duty and do it and not rely on the other guys to help me do it because I'm getting paid for, my rank, so I did it. That way they respect me. And any formation or anything, I just go along with them, play with them, want to be the first in chow lines. You want to be the first in chow, I said, "I'll get you there." Even though we have to go doubletime, we'll get in front, and we got to the chow line every time right in front of all the other guys. Boy, I tell you, it was a good place to work. A lot of Niseis there, boy, California and all that, all bunched in there. Then when we got to Fort Riley, they go for fun. So many and go stay in quartermaster motor pool. The rest of them go to detail work, so we got the best one. So we got the motor pool. We get to ride the truck or car, don't have to walk, you know. The other guys had to stay back and do yard duty. They formed a softball team, same office, same officer, same first sergeant, everything. Other side of that stick, the marker is "colored." Don't you guys go over there. That's "colored." That's off limit. On this side is your side. Same office now and they're playing ball with us, softball. So the boys figured well let's form a softball team and let's challenge them. They formed a softball team, and here's where I didn't get a chance to stay back away from motor pool to see. I got permission to cross the line, go over there, and play softball with the "colored," 'til then, no, no. You go in a bus and then you pay the fare, you know. Say I pay the fare, that's right. That's "colored" section. You have stay up in the front. What do you mean? I'm black. I'm going to sit back there, so then we all went. The driver can't tell the difference between a black and a yellow or what. We got a good audience right there. So the driver, he give up. We just sat in the back. We didn't care. If you want call us black, call us black. We paid.

SG: So how was your relationship with the black troops?

BO: Black there?

SG: Uh-huh.

BO: Well, see Fort Riley is South. They all think different. He has to stay away from them or they'll stay away from you, so you won't get in trouble. Then you still scratch your head, what's going on around here? So we had a church call us up, said we send a car down to the church, so I dispatch one over there. He went over there. He said, "What am I going to do over there?" He come back, so I said, "Well, I'll go with you." I went with him. So we go to church, you know. I don't know if there's all, we're off limits from going into church, that's black church. A lady decides decorate to have a party, but I didn't care about any fence or anything like that. I just went right in and try to ask for the head lady, but big white eye and white teeth, it scares you. [Laughs] I guess we got a good audience. But I didn't go back and check on that detail. But post laundry, that one was a special, real good. He asked the boys if they could drive a dump truck or semi and all that. Any volunteers? Yeah, I drive, you know. Well, you sign him up, you know. Like the post laundry, you have a panel truck, delivery, pick up and delivery laundry. So they go there, and the head lady says, "These people are different from all the rest of them." All I had to do is I have this and this, I had to serve, can't find service or stuff like that and what they do, they load up, they head out. Next morning, they load up themselves, they go. You don't have to tell them again, never twice on any outfit. The outfits over here now, you don't have to tell them that, you know. They find it and then they take off. They're different. Something's wrong. They're all above high school graduate. They don't have, you got a bunch of guys that they can't even sign their own name, difference in education. They observe all the instructions and do it, carry right out. So they say they want us to dispatch Nisei, nothing but Nisei from thereon to them. No more white people or anybody else. We didn't have no "colored," blacks. So when the white people come back from a big three-day pass or furlough or anything, I don't put them back on the dispatch sheet. I keep the Nisei right on it and let the Nisei continue to make it look real good for the Nisei.

SG: How did the white troops treat Nisei soldiers?

BO: Well, they rejected that they didn't get the job back, but they're happy that they don't have to go back to work again. They want that job back and take it easy, but I didn't give back to them. I feel it was Nihonjin, Nisei and left it that way.

SG: Was there any other difficulty between white soldiers and Nisei soldiers?

BO: Well, not necessarily. We do have unloading detail. Now I did unloading trucks and jeeps in Fort Lewis but very little. And then when we got to Riley, they had the unloading detail there. Big trucks, the cab, the driver sits almost in front of the front wheel, and you hang way out there. It's a pontoon moving along, a long pontoon, and the cab is pushed forward because the pontoon is long, so unload those and others. And what this white guy did is that when the boys went under the truck to cut the straps off, strap tie down, take them all off, you get some clear so that he could start it and move it out. Well, one of them have to spring back up. Reason, he started the motor up and just smoked the inside of the boxcar. It's inside boxcar, smokes it out, so the boys there crawl out of there. And then the guy, he come out and says, "You guys sabotage. You left the strap on to break the line so would be no break." Oh, big, made big noise. So I told Major, I says, "You know, it's either get rid of that guy or I'll take the crew." I'll go up there and unload the thing because I did unloading in Fort Lewis. So Major says well, he says, "Where these boys at?" I said, "I dispatched them to all the other jobs. They're not here." The guys are standing right there. He didn't listen to me, telling big lies, you know. Oh, this is straight stuff. Then I told them, well, I'll run the boys and we'll get up there and finish the job. Oh, okay, sergeant said, and Major left. So I rounded up the boys and went up there and unloaded the rest of the vehicle and then that was that. Later on, reason is that when he shipped these vehicles, they sent certain ones to Fort Riley or certain ones to Fort Crew. Fort Crew, they had a lot of jeeps and weapons, pickups up there. It has to be brought to the exchange. It's just heavy stuff have to go up there. So I ask the boys, I said if they know how to drive the big stuff. Sure, Imoto, the little guy, he said, there's no safety belt on these. So you sit sideways because you can't reach the gas pedal or brake and the big steering wheel, and there's three transmissions see, and I use a lot of the split. And this is how you drove that thing, big stuff. But we took that up there. It worked out fine because it don't go any faster than 35 miles an hour anyway, so you don't have the accordion. You know how accordion works, you don't have that.

Then coming home, they had a whole bunch of jeeps, so we all got the jeeps and stuff, and I have in the middle of the convoy. And the white guy, he had a semi up in the front who I don't know what's in that thing, but light. Then the sergeant, he had the motorcycle. Well, that looks pretty good. Well, we started stretching out, going out. Then when we came to town, we don't know whether you're going to go straight, turn. We had the headlights on. We lean on the horn, and the kids all say, "Went that way," so we wave at the kids and thanking them, which way to go. We don't know where they turned at. So we got through that city, and I don't know which city that was. But when we go out, we were going wide open in town, and the law says that we supposed to obey all traffic signals and stuff like that in the cities or wherever we were traveling. Well, it didn't go that way. The guys didn't know the rules like they were supposed to. So we got on the other side of town and were still going in front of the high school. The semi going up, he kind of shift gears or something and all like an accordion, all coming together, and I got called to it, behind me, like a pickup, it caved the chest in. We had to tow that truck. Boy, I don't know how many we smacked up, but we did tow one in. And when we were going that fast on the other side of town, I had mine going full bore at 60, 65. That's all it'll go against the wind, and sergeant with the motorcycle was just going together. I shake my head, you'll waste time trying to catch up with the guy in front. But then as we went, I kept thinking to myself about time if that guy slow down or shift anything. I had to hurry up and break the line and try to break it and make another line to make more room for the boys behind. But they have time to break it and make a second line. You get small to break it. You're supposed to stay in line. So that kid, one kid got steel shoved in his chest. And when we got back, the officer says, "We're going to order that kid, we're going to court martial him." I said, "Why, you know. If you're going to court martial him, I want you to court martial me too." "Why you?" I hit the car in front and the car behind me hit me. Oh, it's that guy in the front that don't know the regulation on convoys. And you know, they didn't have no court martial. That's the kind of junk that I played, volunteered to get sucked into a court martial and stuff, and the majors dropped it.

SG: Well, it sounds like there wasn't -- the relationship between Nisei soldiers and --

BO: That's the relationship. That's the relationship. He is trying to double-cross us to get us more trouble and like that unloading that our boys sabotaged and left the strap on, brake line hose, and when we backed up, it ripped it off. That's sabotage, he says, see. It isn't so.

SG: Because you were a Nisei, he was saying that?

BO: Probably so, but he was kind of jealous once, that, he's only a private or PFC, but he's white, so he think he could play this joke and everybody else is dumb and they will all fall into a trap, and he would be a hero. I ain't going to do nothing like that that happen to my boys.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

SG: What was the relationship, other than that, was the overall, the relationship between Niseis soldiers and white soldiers pretty good?

BO: Well, it was good, but we didn't get into too much, hardly anything because the Nisei pretty much taken over the whole, let's see details in Fort Riley and the motor pool, and we didn't go to the rookie side. That's outside of Fort Riley. That one, the one case where they found a short samurai sword knife hidden under the pillow, see, under our mattress, and they said he has to give that up, but he didn't want to lose it because that's the family treasure. Well, he finally had to give it up. Then the shakedown. They told everybody to turn in their pen, ink, and stuff because it might be poison in that. It might jab the horses and kill them just like you do with the knife. They didn't find any. All that work for nothing, shakedown inspection. That's the friction we had.

SG: They were suspicious of the Nisei?

BO: Yeah, kind of, but you had to keep erasing as fast as possible. You can't just stand there and let them do it. But that is not my department over there. My department is on this side.

SG: What were the living conditions like for you there?

BO: Where we were at on the laundry detail. We made laundry detail. When they issue those sheets and pillows and stuff like that, pillow slip and all that, we get the perfect white sheets, just perfect. The colored, the other, all yellow, rotten, torn, and that's what they get. So they did treat us good, and we lived up to it, the Nisei did.

SG: So you were a corporal at this time?

BO: At that time, and they finally gave me a buck sergeant. I'm supposed to have a staff sergeant which I refused because I don't want to go to the main repair shop and boss over the white mechanics. So I turn it down, and I don't know what the Major did there. You know, all this extra work you get is kind of silly. You're risking yourself in doing it when the other boys are just standing there listening. But somebody got to speak up, so I just went in spoke right up, and I said, told them you court martial me, you know. That's a big embarrassing record. It goes right on your record, and you get no more jobs after that. You never want to get court martial, not even company punishment, but I did it. Folks don't know that that I... would you do it? Well, I'm just asking you. It's past tense now. You could say yes or no.

SG: That's a tough, that sounds like you risked a lot by doing that.

BO: That's why, only thing I was after is get my men's feeling toward me because I mercy all this, and therefore, they should back me up, which they did. Of course, they didn't say a word, but what's in their mind, that's all, where can they go? They got no home, just the uniform they got on.

SG: What, so you were like family basic?

BO: Huh?

SG: You were family, you and your soldiers?

BO: Oh, my group there? Yeah, I'm kind of a mother to them. They come cry about this or that, so I patiently listen to it and wait for a time to get even with them.

SG: Why did you not take the promotion to command the white people?

BO: And dump my men? And see them get in trouble? Oh no, I'm going to stay back and go as a team and protect them because they're doing a good job. I don't care about the white in the main shop. If I go there, they're all going to go and get canned, and yet all the Niseis are going to take over the shop. That's a big thought too, you know. The Niseis are not dumb. They all went to school. They know how to monkey wrench. They know all about it. The only thing they don't exhibit. Why do it because they get to more work, that's all.

SG: What was the most challenging thing for you as a corporal?

BO: Those are the things, you know. I wasn't a sergeant yet. I was still corporal yet when I, spoke right up. But other than that, everything went smooth because they can't argue against a corporal. They can't hit them irregardless of what they are, you know. So noncommissioned officer. The only thing you don't do is you don't salute them or "sir" them. [Laughs]

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

SG: So how did you be, end up, how did you become a sergeant?

BO: Right there, right there. The major says -- he gave me a whole list of ranks. He says, "Pass them out." You look at each other, how much school have you got, you know. I don't do all that or you know. Can you do this, can you do that? I just look at him, "Oh, you're a pretty good guy, here take this." I give it to him. And I only took buck sergeant. What do you do with staff? Oh, I don't care. I don't want it because the staff is going to go up to shop, see, and boy, that really, went real good that I give up myself and give them the ranks, and get paid.

SG: What happened after that?

BO: I got shipped out to Camp Savage.

SG: Away from your --

BO: Oh, yeah. I got taken away and head to Camp Savage intelligence school.

SG: Do you know why they chose you?

BO: Oh, yeah. December 7th, I told them I could speak a little bit. I could interpret just a little bit, you know. We were just raising a family, and if I could help, I'll help. That one is a sore spot that grabbed me.

SG: So they shipped you to Camp Savage?

BO: Then I went to Camp Savage.

SG: What was that like in Camp Savage?

BO: Here again, they load us up, got on a train at, in Kansas City, and the boy says, "How about taking that fast train, okay?" We'll take the fast, let's see. We'll take the fast train and not take the slow train, he said that. And to catch a fast train, we had to catch a train later instead of getting on the train now, so check your watch and then get out of here. MP was looking all over for that group of guys, about twelve, and he couldn't find them, so we had a good time. Then after a short time, we got there. "Where were you guys? We were looking all over for you guys. Get on that train. You missed the other one." So we got on the train, and that train went so fast that we passed up the old one, got to Omaha, and then we wandered around in Omaha. I went to, me and Okazaki went to the Mr. and Mrs. Yoden who had a gift shop downstairs, we went up there. We ate rice and tsukemono. "Well, don't you want these?" All the gotso All we wanted was just rice and tsukemono. We thanked them, and they were worried about their son. I says, "Well you know, ranks all depend upon how the upper feels about you and how you could tell the soldiers do this or do that." And when we head back to catch our train, they all talk about they went this place, that place. Oh, we had rice and tsukemono. Then we got on train head for Saint Paul. "Dear Old Nightingale, never on time unless a gale behind it." It goes right by Camp Savage. Instead of stopping there, we went clear over to Saint Paul, and there's a truck waiting out there, truck, not a bus or anything. So we climb in the truck and end up freezing. Where is this going to end up, you know. Oh, back to Savage. Then you got to get off here, so we toss our baggage over. They called. You guys got to eat, so we go up to the mess hall. We ate then go to our belongings. First step you make in the log cabin is soggy, spongy, and stinky. We step on, get in, but we have to hurry up. It's already past midnight. We have to find a bunk and go to sleep. So we match or find a bunk and feel. Then finally, we went to sleep.

And here they come, woke us up already. So we woke up and look around, there's nobody higher than us. I was the highest ranking guy in that barrack. I got sergeant in charge of everything, don't know nobody. I thought we just came in there. It was, floor was just soggy, juicy, like there was ice under there that's melting. It was, originally, it was a CCC Camp, and they changed it to a hobo camp. And from there, the intelligence got in there, and they tried to get us to -- and the guys are just laughing. Where you guys from? Continue? So we get the questionnaires and this and that. We get the classified to a certain class. Everybody gets different class. They don't all go into one, like a regular -- just didn't go this way or that. It depend upon which class you're assigned to because they want to know what part of the country you've been to in Japan, you know. If you've been to Kyushu, where about, you fill out the form, then you select. Then this guy, he belongs over here or this guy belongs over there. So we get assigned, then we go to school. Where you started? Well, I don't know. We still got the IUL. I don't know how that's going to win the war. It has no meaning, IUL, ABC. The guys just lay in the bed with a blanket over here or drop light, studying away, and they get caught, not supposed to have a light. You supposed to go to sleep, so they did. Well, the other one is a good one. They take the books, they go to the bathroom, about ten, dozen of toilets, sit there, laundry, the barracks' washing machine, a shower. So they go there, all the lights up, study away. "What's the matter with you guys?" "Bad food." "What do you mean bad food?" You're missing the bed check. See your name, your tags is on the bed, bed check. So if they're in there, they erase the name. And they say, "Bad food." "You mean you had bad food, and you're sitting there with the pants up?" The pants wasn't down, it was up. That's the first secret weapon in the Asian Pacific. That's the beginning. They were really studying, hard to believe. The Nisei were studying that hard. Me, I would throw the book away and go to sleep. If people only knew how hard these boys did. But first ones that really took it because they were going to get sent, a lot of them were by themselves. That was one or two that I help them, by myself.

SG: Where were they sent to?

BO: Asian Pacific from the Aleutian all the way out to the Burma Road, didn't have enough men.

SG: So how many Nisei were sent with you to Camp Savage?

BO: About a dozen, that's all out of that group. But they were sharp boys, they're young. But there were others after that out of the Los Angeles, something like that. Oh, they were sharp, one man, one man they have. One month, one month, boink, they stuck him in civilian clothes with the AMP on it. They just smuggled him into the one radio listening post on the coast of California so that the state police or anybody wouldn't catch him. In other words, they smuggled him. And I don't know when he come out, but I know he won't be able to come out because they were after any Oriental. Now connecting to that story, we had one platoon -- I can't say too much. Anyway, we have a platoon of men all finished school, they had all the papers, everything, all in the envelope, everything, then they had a big batch of envelope that these boys are all finished intelligence school and they must get on that ship. They go to Frisco. Oh, these are Oriental. They round them up and stuck them up in stockade. Oh, the fire really went up. And when it did go up, didn't you see those orders that they're all carrying and the master orders. They got to get on that ship. You held them back one day. It might turn the war over, you know. They had to be on that and get over there. So they finally settled and then let the boys get on that ship. Well, they were really hard on that one. That's how, my friction among the hakujin on the West Coast.

SG: So who rounded up the Nisei soldiers?

BO: Those MPs and stuff like that, military police and stuff, along the coast. They round them up. Never heard of it? You did now.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

BO: We had one soldier that, in our company marching, and he would do stuff like a Japanese soldier, up and down, and I never stopped him or questioned him because this might be the part or training that he might be doing in the enemy zone. So he might be the one that there's one case where they march in with the enemy and listen to everything, then he come marching right back out again. They were saying, "Which section have you come from?" I come from so and so section and got lost, so then I'm coming over here, you know. I'll blend in that way. But I tell you, some of these guys, or they'll sneak in from the back and listen in to the office or tap into radio telephone line, all kinds. The other one is there is one island that nobody could understand that language. See, everyone has a different language, so that particular island is the language that they used. So they asked by listening to the radio, what is it? Oh, that's that particular island that their folks come from. So they took him to the Washington, D.C. and listened to all the rest of the lingoes and then try to find out what they're saying. Anyway, I lost part of it. That's how we snoop into the enemy, and they thought that we don't have no such a thing as a Japanese language school which we did not. This is the first time they ever started Japanese school, and they were going to move it to Maryland, and they did not. And then out of this in a very quick order, they have to hurry up and get some kids to listen and write it out so that they could follow-up and be on guard over there. They had pictures of a grandma's place over there. Then they say to look down. He says, "Yeah, that's a chicken house." That's how close they had pictures of just like we had in California. Take us out of range and merchant ship comes in coming down, they take a sound radar of the beach or the coast and they pay them for it. They do the same thing. You get paid for this plain pictures you got. And that's how -- and people don't know this. It's a big business selling pictures of each other. You know that? This is old stuff. I'm sorry. What else is there? There was one that they were actually going to invade Japan. This is a good one. They told the whole class about it. Nobody see it, nobody knows about it. It's a fish trap, long one. It's a dike at the lowest tide, it's underwater. It's green. You can't see it. So when you try to land in that, you get stuck on that rock pile. And fish that's inside, they can't get out, so they scoop the fish out. So they could really shoot and sink everybody right there. They told them about that. That's what's out there. Boy, they stopped that. That invasion was all planned, but they stopped it and saved lives on their side and our side.

SG: How did they find out about the fish trap?

BO: Because the kid that went to grandma's place, see, he came back, and he's telling them to, and they told him if you want to save your grandma, you better come out right now because that's the place they're going to go and blast and go in, and that's where his grandma was. So he told them and that saved the grandma and saved all our men from getting trapped.

SG: Do you remember what part of Japan that was?

BO: No, I don't know that. I don't know the details. That's a long time ago, back in '42.

SG: What things did they teach you in intelligence school?

BO: Okay. The thing that they taught us, we did not have a guard, entrance guard anything. It's wide open. But the civilians cannot come in and civilians are taxpayers and everything, and they wonder what they're teaching us. They must not be teaching you guys anything good things. So, we told them no. They got to be teaching something, and that's what it is. It's always, it's not written or anything. It's a lot of conversation that they explain to us, what happened, history.

SG: Japanese history?

BO: Well, or our history or you know, what we see and we bring it up, so that they be prepared. Just because you capture a soldier, says who's in charge, he says so and so major, fine. How many men he got? Maybe two hundred. Like hell. He has maybe three thousand men back there, see. So we tell them if there's only one hundred, two hundred, we could go in and get them, but better not. There's three thousand out there you can get killed yourself. Those are the things that helped our side to save our boys from getting cleaned out, and we got them.

SG: What other things do they train you to do?

BO: What other things they train?

SG: Yeah.

BO: Well, all I can say is that they went on their own, their own judgment and done it. I don't think, all they do to us was a description what is out there. But those things like changing uniform and stuff like that, no. Like Frank Hachiya, you heard about him? He went in and got the -- picked up and listened in or tapped in or something. He gave back the message. And then they asked him and we got to get one more, go back in there and find out one more thing. And Frank Hachiya, he volunteered. He said he'll go in. So he goes in and get the information on the return trip on hill side, trouble. Armed men shot him, and he dies. Before he died, he give out all the information and pass away. That's Frank Hachiya at Hood River.

SG: So the American soldiers --

BO: Because when we were going in school that there was no way of saving us. We were all getting potshot from the side, so they put MP in front, MP in back, even just to go to the fire range or to drop a bomb, benjo, you know. They had to put an MP in front an MP in back or else we were shot from the side, and they're not to shoot us. And on the one ship, they told the sergeant to keep your hands on and guard this boat. Each one is worth more than 20,000 of you guys on the ship, so they all protected the MIS boys that's on the ship. Until then, they were just pushing men around.

SG: Who was pushing you and taking potshots at you?

BO: No, no, no. In the liberty ship, you're going over, the sergeant, they're all mad at the Japs and picking on the MIS boys. The flunkies, I'm going to take the flunkies. I'm going to jump back now, the flunkies. Instead of transfer them out or give them a discharge, they said, "You're going to port of embarkation. You're going out there, shave your head, and put on a Japanese uniform on and get up in the front and display how a Jap soldier looks like." White people can't do that, but we can because we are Japanese. But then they catch you. Nobody could go up there and display without a noncom rank. You had to be a corporal and up to go on display, so they all got, even though the flunkies, they got a corporal and up rank even T-5, they get it. They were catching a [inaudible]. Interesting how to win a war.

SG: What was your first assignment?

BO: My first assignment? Well, I went to hospital when I was student. I went to hospital and by missing class and stuff like that, they finally transferred me to headquarters company instead of keeping me in a student company, and then I had to stay. And the first sergeant, he signed up for medical school, Paul Uno of Seattle. So he go to medical school, did an open right there, opening, nobody there, so they took me to take over. So I went there, and I told them I don't know how to type. I don't know nothing, but get in there and do it because it has to be done. You can't delay because the intelligence. You have to keep it going because the school is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger. Okay, so I went in. Well, here I was doing the two-finger typing and all that and checking the absentees and stuff, then in comes more men. Anyway, mainland group involves Shig Hongo, Nobu Sumida, and that group. They were in and out. It's a, being in service and take a while too and coming in. Then relocation group, coming out of relocation camp, then there's a Hawaiian group. They're coming here volunteer from Hawaii coming in. I was first sergeant for those companies. One time, I was a first sergeant for two companies. What's my rank? Just lift my jacket up. It's only a sergeant, put the jacket down, I'm an acting first. In other words, there's no pay, but I didn't care. It's the work that has to be done by somebody. If they want to give me help, a clerk, they could find somebody, but they can't take a, touch the students. You got to take out of the headquarters company, some place, so I did it myself.

SG: What kind of things were you doing there at headquarters, at the hospital?

BO: Hospital? Oh, they had to, let's see. I was at hospital for carbuncle. That was the carbuncle. I had it on my leg, and I couldn't walk, so they had to open that up and put a, that's what I went up there for and that delays me. Then even I did come out, I won't be able to walk anyway.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

SG: What other assignments did you do for Military Intelligence?

BO: Well actually, actually, it's the intelligence work, but it's headquarters company, student company first sergeant. Headquarters company, headquarters company, in there they have, you could have ten first sergeants that's A company, B company, C company first sergeant which I was, and sometime I would have two company. Of course, one time I had three, but they took that one, took one away. But two was the highest I got, first sergeant. But you know, you just can't get around to meet all the guys in the company and know their face and name. That's what you're supposed to do to recognize them. I know your name? No, I don't know your name. That's how fast my brain is. Only thing I ask you is to take the dog tag off. And you think I could write? I scribble, so I put down X, star, and I show, "This your name?" He looks at it. I close it in my notebook, no name. They know that I don't take name down. I don't care whether they're unshaven or what it is. If he didn't pass, I just let it go. He better remember to do it right the next time or else I'll take the name down, dirty trick. I didn't get caught. If they asked me for my notebook, I have to give it up and show them, but that's private property. I had that on my side, so I didn't show them anything.

SG: How did the Hawaiian Nisei and the mainland Nisei get along?

BO: [Laughs] Oh, boy. Well, when the Hawaiian boys came along, I was first time very excited for them, that before they got me was the first time for them. I lift my bunk up and move it into their barracks, and I slept in it, and they didn't know whether I was a part of the student or part of the headquarters which I was a headquarters. I tried to pick up the lingo and lived with them and learned how to, that's how I got to live with the Hawaiian boys. With the others, they go town, and just go outside. Oh, they really get beat up, gang fight outside. But me, no. I stayed with, I slept with them as a part of the family.

SG: So the mainland boys would beat up the Hawaiian boys?

BO: No. Hawaiian boys are gang fighters. They beat you up, so you better stay cool or stay inside. Mainlander, kotonk, they don't know, no brain. They walk right out in the trap.

SG: Why did the Hawaiians hate the mainlanders so much?

BO: How come? But that's the way it is. Just because we don't talk like them and all that, you know. I joined them. I talk like them, yeah, pidgin English, and joined them. I'm not bashful. The others think they're so good. They don't, that's where the trouble is at. Boy, I learned that one fast. I got to live too, you know. Well, I guess you guys are going to stay here till midnight.

SG: So was, did your, rest of your stay in the military was there in Minneapolis?

BO: Huh?

SG: The rest of your duty in the military was with Intelligence?

BO: Yeah, all the way through [inaudible]. Wherever I get assigned, then I go and don't make stink about it, because the officers, they're all beginners. They're first time facing all, it's happening so fast that they got to do something. And in the field, they're asking for more help. You're going to have some rest. They're out there by themselves and can't get rest. So if we could send somebody in there to relieve him, yeah. It's a mess. So part of where we're shipping those boys, the liberty ship going to San Francisco or Seattle then comes a -- send them to Florida. Why the hell Florida? We're going to fly them over through over to Africa and go that way, safer. It just depends upon the war, they start flying over to Africa. We can't lose one man even, very expensive, valuable men, and that's what General Willoughby, he says, "These boys are a secret weapon in the Asian Pacific Theater," and it's saying shortened the war two years, two years lots, and saved two million lives and all the equipment that's required to do it. That's us. We are all backbones, everybody. They're making them over there in Minnesota or where you're at, all working.

SG: What were your superior officers telling you when you're in Minnesota?

BO: Superior officer?

SG: Yeah.

BO: Superior officer, he can't say nothing because he's lost himself, because if it wasn't for the sergeant, he's lost too, and he'd be shipped out. So what are you going to do? Keep your mouth shut and just rely on the sergeant. That's exactly what they did. You go ask them, and they don't know nothing. They won't tell you that the school was going in ten time, my company going up ten time or not. That's when I got married, went back. They grew ten time, and they were all lost. And what they do since we had so much men, you had the job, high CTO in St. Paul, coal detail in St, Paul, wintertime. Then they have a utility detail or they have a KP in every company, a day room orderly, latrine orderly. Who the hell want to do the latrine orderly each company, student company? That was our job, get rid of men. Get rid of the, for whoever is qualified for furlough to go to camp, give it to him. So we just gave furloughs to go to the various camp. And then before they go oversea and was allowed to give them three-day pass, hundred a day. So hundred goes out today, hundred tomorrow; third day, another hundred goes out. That's 300 guys already. Then the fourth day, the first sergeant's coming in. How about our detail? Who's who? See? What happened to this guy? What happened? That was a big headache we had. Plus, if we shipped ten, ten, ten company of men, it takes ten company of men and they form a new company; the mess hall, supply room. They change our classroom, and they made a place to stay. And all that different company, I, J, K company, well, we ship them. Okay. All the male was coming over to operate. Well, K company, but then the headquarters won't stockade company and send them to K company. They send everything to us, and we're supposed to sort them out and then send to the various company. That's chicken, so we had to have boys working like mad at our place. So we had lots of money, and we get so much on the dollar at the canteen. So the captain, he buys fourteen cases of beer, fourteen cases. So what happened? First time, head for town. I don't want to be near the place. And I don't know how many kegs we drank, but one keg is confidential, and they took the other keg of beers, they took it to each mess hall and gave each one a keg of beer to drink. Where's that one beer, one keg? Well, there's happened to be a Hawaiian wino in one of the tarpaper... he drunk, stinking all day long. He drunk down in the main theater. Then you check his room, the one keg in there was empty. So the sergeant major, Hawaiian, sergeant major, he refused to try regain his officer's rank. I don't know what rank he was supposed to get. He refused, and then he goes back. When he goes back, he said, "Handcuff the wino to you, and then you take him back to Hawaii," so he does that, take the Hawaiian back to Hawaii. When he gets to Hawaii, he's just beaten up almost dead because he refused to work for the rank that he had before. It's a shame, to let it slip by. Makes sense?

SG: Uh-huh.

BO: You're not writing anything.

SG: We're getting it all on tape.

BO: Yeah, I know. [Laughs] Let's see now. What else I got? Oh, the listening post. Now, Shig Mihara was a Gresham High School student with me. Ed Okada was in Vancouver. Those are farmers' boys. They were listening post in Camp Savage listening to Japan military or whatever, I don't know. And the student, they go and go to this radio station. They listen in and write down what they're talking. They got to practice so listen in to the radio. That's what happened at Camp Savage right in the middle of U.S.


<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

BO: Commandant Rasmussen says, "I'm going to treat these boys good. I'm going to turn all the beans back and ask for rice at the Chicago Commissary." Chicago said, "Yes. We could do that easily," so they shipped the rice to Camp Savage, Snelling this time. So then they asked the Japanese farmer if they could raise some daikon and they only could raise the round-type daikon instead of the long one. Okay. Then they point the finger at Company C in the basement. So then they got the barrel and start the tsukemono here, start the... and they're so dumb. They say, smell rotten. This stinks. Condemn this company, no more. He didn't know what that was. Then he find out the commanding officer said, oh, make tsukemono, and those tsukemono and rice, oh, really taste good. That's what the commander was trying to do. He's nodding his head. [Laughs] And the gal, Betty and Margaret, that was the office girls, and one of them is a missionary gal, and she had a nice leg -- daikon ashi, working around. And this Hawaiian boy, "Oh, look at that nice daikon ashi." She just stopped, turn around, and she told him off in perfect Japanese because she was raised in Japan. Just perfect. They were really amazed how perfect, and she told him off, no more daikon ashi. You want some more?

SG: Keep going.

BO: It makes you laugh. That's how we won the war. And then Camp Savage happens to be just in our correct position. Railroad that goes from Omaha to St. Paul happens to be going on outside highway. This other one, this freight train, man, going. He goes up the hill. It was 4 o'clock in the morning. He wouldn't let us go to sleep. Then on top of that, they got these night fighter or night bomber mosquito all night. Talk about mosquito. Then the wintertime, everything gets so icy, you can't go to the bathroom. So I made a geta out of two by four. Wear geta, that way I could go to the bath, and I could walk outside. Boy, our hair is just ice, so you wash and come outside. The guys there said, were trying to wear slippers in that mud, but I had geta and walk right into bathroom and then, wash up then come right back out. Slippers, you got to take them off. What else I got? Oh, talk about food. They go to the Jaws Cafe only, [inaudible] in Minneapolis, and [inaudible] is a good one. The boys would fool with the waitress and some got in trouble, and I made off-limit that place. I didn't know about, I went down there, and the guy says, "Why don't you guys come and eat?" I don't know. You think, I thought he was going to buy me food. Hell no. He's the chairman, he's so tight. He made me pay for the food. But anyway, they finally left there, off-limit. And then they kept saying, "Don't those guys feed you down there? You guys come up here and want to eat rice and this and that." They were always asking, "Don't they feed you down there?" Yeah. Oh, we say sure eat lots, go to Minneapolis, eat this fried rice or I forget all the stuff we used to eat.

SG: Did you ever get packages from your family?

BO: Family? Oh, yeah. Whatever they could find out in the country, Japanese stores out there, they buy them and then package them up and ship them to us. They got it a lot of time. But you know, they had a hard enough time, gas ration. They can't travel too much.

SG: What would they send you in the packages?

BO: Oh, you're coming up with a good one now. I don't remember all the stuff they used to send us, but whatever they send us, it don't last long. The moment you open it up and nose around, oh, I want some of that. Pretty soon all gone, nothing for yourself. That's camp life, boy.

SG: You said earlier that you thought that the Japanese, the Nisei soldiers had a big impact. How big of an impact do you think that the Nisei soldiers had in terms of winning the war with Japan from your experience?

BO: Come again now?

SG: You said the Nisei soldiers were the secret weapon for the United States.

BO: Yeah, that's what they call them afterward.

SG: From your perspective, how important was the Nisei soldier to winning the war against Japan?

BO: Well like I explained, different ones, what the individuals did and, or the unit that's out there. They figured out what's, what this guy said and you're going in call the booby trap. They told them that you got to believe what the Nisei said because he is raised in the family, and they know exactly what kind of feeling they have and when they're telling a lie and all that, so don't get caught. So what they did, they got prepared. And sure enough, here they come. They wiped them out. Makes sense? They walked in; they wiped them out because they came.

SG: What were your feelings toward Japan at this time?

BO: Japan that time?

SG: Your personal feelings toward Japan?

BO: Well, you serve that we lost our home. We're fighting with our home. Only home we have is GI clothes. Right? No? Same with all the rest of them. We got to protect that uniform.

SG: So wasn't difficult?

BO: Oh, no. They want to get even. They asked for it. It's too bad they had to be that way, but that's how they weigh it. They were a rough outfit, but they weren't prepared deep enough. It could have been worse. All the people was killed on the battleship Arizona, they weren't killed. They were burnt under oil fire. That's the latest I hear, what the guys that survived is coming back and saying.

SG: USS Arizona in Hawaii?

BO: Arizona, that ship, it tipped over and caught on fire and all that. They said those guys weren't killed. They were caught on the oil fire that the, that's why they died. Yeah. I had a guy truck driving. He come by our place too. He was a welder. He was welding up all the small holes that let the air out from the Arizona.

SG: Did you lose any friends in the --

BO: Huh?

SG: Did you lose any friends in the war?

BO: Me? Oh, I suppose I have, but I didn't stop and think. But I did, that's a good question too. They go out so fast, so many, oh, so and so went, but I never get a report if they come back or not.

SG: You don't know if you're, if they died or if they survived?

BO: I don't know that either, just that I look at the roster, oh, he's living in Colorado and stuff like that. That's the only way you can tell. There's no way of telling. They were looking for me too now, you know. What happened to that sergeant?

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

SG: So you mentioned earlier that you, at this time you were married. You got married to your wife. How did you meet your wife?

BO: Oh, that one my older sister, she met her and she's a lot of fun and she works in the nurse's aide in the operating room, and she said that she'd be the right one for me, so I said okay. And it's such a quick, you have no time to think or anything, and she didn't either, so, and they were closing the camp, so the mother and everybody else had to move out and grab a hold of boys and hang onto them and go out with them. If you miss them, you don't get a chance because they're closing the camp already. They cut the heating and all that off, so that's why they came like about three families, four families, came with us to Minneapolis. Then once they got to Minneapolis, then they disperse out to different jobs or whatever they find. Chicago is, got almost a whole relocating camp, and you don't hardly see any Japanese. Chicago's so big.

SG: So where did you meet your wife?

BO: In camp.

SG: She was working at the hospital camp?

BO: Minidoka, baishakunin. Here's the head that's going up and down. I don't know whether he's sleeping or not.

SG: So where was, where's your wife originally from?

BO: Portland right by the old auditorium where they had the secondhand hotel, and her grandmother was running that while she was going to school and all that.

SG: So did you know your wife, did you know her when you were living here? When did you meet your wife? When did you see, meet her for the first time?

BO: My wife, the first time?

SG: Uh-huh.

BO: Minidoka camp.

SG: So you didn't know her when you lived here?

BO: Oh no, no. No, not me. Ted Hachiya knows her because in that group they played around. Ted Hachiya said that the log and stuff they played around by the Market General Building, and she had slipped and start sinking. He grabbed her hair and brought her up. That was my wife. She was drowning, and he tells me now and then about that, how he saved her.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

SG: So what happened to your family during the war?

BO: Our family, they were in the stockyard, and they had a big powwow there whether to stay or go, and I told them don't take camp life and get out, get out in the open and work. We're at war. We need lots of sugar and this and that so go out there and work, and they choose to do that instead of going to camp. So my folks didn't go, did not go to Minidoka. Like my big sister, she went to Minidoka, but she has a son and daughter in Japan. Son gets caught in the military, and that's the one they can't find. And daughter, my brother Henry who went to Tokyo and found her and saved her and then got a job to work under an officer and then wanted to come to Washington, D.C., and he came to U.S. And they were trying to force her to give up the U.S. citizen and work for them. If they do, they give them a good job, but she didn't. She just hung onto it, and they came home with an American citizen. See, we're dual citizen, you know.

SG: So your family, where did they, where did they go work instead of going to the camp?

BO: Okay. They went to CC Camp in Nyssa, and they worked in sugar beets or onion or stuff like that, like a Mexican. But as the hoe wore out, you got no more work because there's no hoe available. So they sent a letter to me if I could buy some hoe and send it home. So in Minneapolis, I got about a dozen hoe, and I told them to, I'll pay the hoe here and then you go collect the shipping over on the other end, so they did that. And they went, picked up the hoe, and paid the shipping. And you think I get paid for hoe? Hell, no. They didn't pay me for the hoe. I said, "That's fine, no more help." That's the end of it.

SG: What happened to your parents' land during this time, the farm?

BO: The farm, that was leased. See, that was leased. So if it was leased, and then you had to move out, just have to leave everything there; tractor, truck, car and everything. You had to leave it because we are at war. You cannot tie anything up and expect to win a war. You had to let the people use it to, so they let the people use it like the wheel tractors about worn out. Tractor, they had tied up at another place. The truck, they were using it left and right. Of course the truck, you got a truck and it was brand new. The little baby, you follow him to the barn, and he ran over his own son. I left that out, you know. He ran over his own son, and Henderson was living on 181st and Powell. He said, "This isn't right. I'm going to go up there." And he went up to the farm, and he took the truck. He got, gathered the wheel truck, wheel tractor and this and that and personal belonging and load up on the truck and brought to Eastern Oregon. Of course, personal property is being ransacked, and what's left, he gathered it and brought it up out to Eastern Oregon. And my brother will tell me that Mr. Hen, of course, Mr. Henderson is passed away now, but I sure would like to see him and thank him for it. There's a lot of good people but lots of dumb people too.

SG: Do you have some examples?

BO: Huh?

SG: Are there some stories?

BO: No. That's about all because I wasn't here, just that I was away, and they were telling us about that.

SG: So your family wasn't in the camps and only your sister was working in Minidoka?

BO: Huh?

SG: You said your sister was at Camp Minidoka? Your sister was a nurse at Camp Minidoka?

BO: Oh, my wife.

SG: Your wife was?

BO: Yeah.

SG: And your sister was at the camp also?

BO: Yeah, cooking there, working there. So then I went to camp one time, got a pass go in. The guard says, "You're not allowed to go in." I said, "What do you mean? I got a sister I want to see." Then I said, "Who is your commanding officer? Where is your corporal at arms or sergeant at arms. Give me their telephone, so I could call up Washington, D.C. because I'm from the MIS." You know, he kind of got scared. He says, "Here, sign this and you can go." He let me in, yeah, because I wasn't going to fool around with that kind of stuff. Kid yourself if you don't have a corporal or sergeant or guard or officer on duty. Anything could happen an then what you got? Nothing, no back up.

SG: Where would you stay when you visited camp?

BO: You could stay anyplace. They put me up.

SG: What would you do while you were there visiting?

BO: Huh?

SG: What did you do while you were visiting?

BO: Visiting the other people, feel sorry for them.

SG: So how did you, when did you decide -- after how long... you met your wife there at Camp Minidoka and how long after that did you decide to get married?

BO: Oh, we got married there. We got married there because we got no time to be wasting. We had to go to Ogden and get the papers over there. A blood test, I got that at Fort Snelling before I left, and we had to go to Ogden and go to courthouse and get the paperwork. It's just a bunch of hassle back and forth and you know and find Kimura, Mr. and Mrs. Kimura to, the only parent presiding. Everything rush, rush, rush, no time.

SG: So how long did you know your wife before you were married?

BO: We didn't know each other at all. We just went by what they tell us. And then when we get together, then we were going to the outside, and then we're going to work like hell and then try to catch up, go to school whatever I can get a hold of and do it, and then, so that our kids when it starts arriving, we had a lot of money, and somebody got to stay home all the time. But the grandma was there to take care of that. Parent wasn't able to help.

SG: So did the war end soon after you were married? Did you leave the military soon after you were married?

BO: I didn't leave the military after I married. War ended August, war ended in August '45. We got married in August 31st in '45, and I stayed in until all this big mad rush is over until it simmered down the last, get organized. Then they found a sergeant from San Francisco that he's going to take over, and then that's when I moved out, and that was in January of '46. When he took over and I see him at the San Francisco reunion, oh, he just blew up. All the promise they made, it didn't mean nothing. They didn't give me a promotion or anything like that, what they promised, and he was really mad. And I told him if you worked so hard at that time, I would have explained to you what the whole deal is. You have to stay and take it and like it because these officers are interested in themselves and want to go out. They're not going to stay and help you. So he had to figure it out all by himself to survive. Oh, he was mad, Jerry Taniguchi. I didn't promise him all that. I was trying to tell him try to take it easy. If you want to help, help, but otherwise, stay out of it.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

SG: What did you do after you left the army?

BO: After I left the army, Camp McCoy, I went to unemployment. I signed in and read the GI Bill, and my sister tell me, "As soon as you get out of service, be sure and go see your folks." And I tell them why, just eats up my saving. You know transportation, it eats up my saving. But you got to go and see them. I said, "Okay." So I, my wife and I, we took a trip to Eastern Oregon to see my folks. We went back and we got a job. She took a job in laundry, job in that. I went to, Yoshioka found a job at a Daimler-Chrysler agent, so I worked there for a while. And they always give me, since I'm a GI Bill, I'm supposed to be cheap labor, but I get paid the same with them. When the boss was in Mexico vacation, I walked out. He said, "Where are you going?" I'm quitting. I got another job. Where are you going? I don't know. I walked out very bitter. Then when the boss came back, wondered what happened to me. Well then, I quit. He turned right around and fired that guy, right now, can't play favoritism or nothing like that, can't give him a comeback of somebody else who had commission and give it to him and work for nothing. He has to do all the comeback of his own. That was the mistake that he was doing. I didn't say anything about racial or anything, but I just happened to walk out, and I told him there. I went to their American agent company of [inaudible]. I went to there, [inaudible], Illinois, went to there and then came back. A telephone call came, and it is George Ono, Minneapolis. He called me up on the phone, said, "What are you doing? I got a job for you." Where? Hudson. Whoever heard of Hudson? I went over there. They brought brand new equipment, and they said that the [inaudible] and fix it up, but it wasn't done right, so I fix it. I almost got canned by noon, but I told them, "You're not going to fire anybody after this. You want to fire me, go ahead and fire me, but let me finish this job once." So I went and finish the job. And when he had that tune-up man, the boss's buddy, and his car went under, so I went and fix that up the best I can. And when he took the car out, he says, "Damn good." That two words, he said. And from thereon, I stayed. He didn't fire me.

SG: What city was Hudson located in? Where was Hudson located?

BO: Almost downtown Minneapolis, near Lone Pine. And then Chevrolet garage was what tore it down. I tried to go to every school that I can get a hold of. I want to know all I can because it's going to be competition with all the soldiers are coming home from war and being just a load of a bunch of men looking for work. So to be competition, I got to have it in my head. So that's the reason why I went to everything I can get a hold of. And I kept telling my wife, I says, "I have to take a chance or risk and sacrifice our kids and do it." Was it worth it? Every night, school. And they told me, "you're the most educated guy here." That's the way they point the finger at me. So they says, we checked this, we checked that. I said, "I don't know nothing about that." Well, come on, we'll go for a ride. I look around, and I told them, all your electrical book tells you never use an acid core solder. We don't use acid course solder. Oh, that's fine. You look at that switch right there. Use an acid core solder, there's a green and green. When the rain goes, gets wet, it has a run and goes to the other terminal, so it shortens that. Electricity shorting across the two terminal. That's why is doesn't shift. Oh boy, all right. This thing, don't worry. Right, fine. Give me a pencil or pen. Watch me, I put a line through the two terminals, just a streak of line. Now we will test. Here's your pencil back. So we go test. Every day, it's just perfect. I'll be darned. That's the friction I'm always having in civilian life. But you got to win. You can't let guys take a walk all over you. You got to fight them. Nope. Oh, I know now you could fight.

SG: So what school did you finally --

BO: Huh?

SG: What school did you finally decide to go to? You said you were looking hard to find a school to go to after the war and which one did you --

BO: Well, Dunwoody Institute was easy to get in and you got a GI Bill, that I could go to any school I could get a hold of which I did. And then I tried to get into all the factory schools because there was not many guys out in the field who can do this, and it's right at the horsepower race. So you got the single carburetor, but you have a dual carburetor or you got a three carburetor or you have a dual and dual or four carburetor and four carburetor, horsepower race. So you had to synchronize it and make sure it works. Well, that's the time that this is all happening and you have to know, so I went to the carburetor school and all that. So they sent me 472 to buy a [inaudible]. They go up there. They got one way up there that nobody seems to understand what this is, so they send me over there. I says, "Okay." I went over there, two V-6 engine, gas engine. Gas engine was quick, a real quick flexible engine, but they got two of them hooked together. They work together, two of them. Okay, what's wrong with that thing? Gasoline, one carburetor open, but the other one don't open yet. See one of them working like mad, the other one just lazy, follow, so I made it so that both opened together. I just make sure they're working together, then I didn't do anything else, then I left. Boy, that thing is just a flexible engine. Anything you want, you could really flex it, operate real fast instead like diesel engine you got wait because it takes a little time to, heavy ply wheel and all takes time. But I didn't get no credit for that, but I enjoyed it. All these new ideas are coming out.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

SG: So what happened after you graduated from college?

BO: College, what? Where's the college?

SG: From mechanic school.

BO: Well, I just kept on going one after another. The carburetor was the most interesting one because you get to a full barrel carburetor or you get to a carburetor, you got to [inaudible] you know. You got all kinds of carburetors coming out. Then you got your manufacturer. Some people would change it to a Smithy mufflers and all that or change the air cleaner. It really throws everything off. Then you got to ask, where you drive, a hot or cold highway? The heat from the road heat up the line from the gas tank to the carburetor. It's boiling. It's boiling, but you stretch it. It makes it boil more, so you got, what do you call that? Engine just stops on you because you cannot burn, air going into a carburetor don't, won't work. It has to get fuel. I was just sitting back, just listen to the story. I tried to give them the answer. What kind of car you got? You got this and you got that. Yeah. Like the distributor machine, you put a distributor machine, it says 60-degree drum. That's fine. But if you borrow a protractor, it's says 60-degree oil, but one says 60 and a half or 59 and a half. It's all different. The timing on each spark plug is different, so you have to straighten the shaft in the right place. And when you spin it, it's got to be exactly same place. And then when you look at the meter, meter just stays still; otherwise, it goes plus, minus. It keeps jumping back and forth. That's the reason, a crooked shaft. So you take a hammer, straighten a little bit and make it work perfect. It purrs right along. Yeah. The Cadillac, once we go in there, it's a whole new Cadillac, says that this is a good one, Everest Brother. He says, "How come you know all these stuff that you did when the book is being published, it comes out now?" That's the question he threw at me. I don't know. What did you do? So he just listened and watched that book. I did this. I increase the main line pressure. It's all according to the book. Now we take it out to the road by the airport on 33rd or something, 92 miles an hour from third and boom, go to number four overdrive, and that's what that guy want,s and he's a cripple. He and I used to win all the trophies every place he goes because of that. He don't have enough money, so he was giving up his [inaudible] and all that to pay for his job. And I asked him, "Where did all this gauges and guides that they're supposed to have here in [inaudible]. Oh, it's up there. You mean you've been playing with hydro guide and stuff like that where the gauge is still up there, the car's moving? Yeah. Get them now. When they got it done, the owner's here. And this is where he tries to tell me that this is where it's supposed to be going. That's exactly what we tried to tell you to do, and then you won't have all this problem, and this is supposed to be the best transmission shop.

SG: So this was all happening in Minnesota?

BO: This part is Portland.

SG: Before you came out to Portland, what was it, what was living in Minnesota or Minneapolis like?

BO: Cold, plenty cold and mosquito, and kids are going there, you know. You feel sorry for them, and they told us not to come home. There's no job, too many people, too many people, so we didn't come home until Grandma passed away. By then, Grandma, I promised her that I'm going to bring her back here because she lived here the longest. I put her up in one of those glass deal where you don't have to worry about weather or anything, and she was in tears. But she passed away in '54. Then we cremated her, and then we brought her urn back and have a memorial service. And then we stayed in the country a little bit about a year. Meantime, we were looking for a house. We found a house, and we bought and paid for it in '55, a new house, unfinished. Then from there, we hired Jim Onchi or Joe Ikada to finish up, finish up that. Then the wife passed away and kids all graduated from college, so we finally sold it last year.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

SG: You moved back to Oregon in '54?

BO: '54, we came back because Grandma passed away. We had to have the service and put her down.

SG: Was it hard adjusting to life back in Oregon?

BO: Well actually, life in Oregon is, I'm not adjusting to the country now. I have to adjust to the town because she, my wife is a city girl, see, and I have to find a job here in town.

SG: Were you able to find one?

BO: Oh, yeah, if you work cheap enough.

SG: What kind of work did you do?

BO: I did electrical carburation, like the first job I took with like tracing company. They want me because I studied front-end alignment, frame alignment, so they want me to work on that. And then I did the carburetor electrical. I am an ideal person to hire, but I did not take that. And I asked them, "When you have a job in and you know that the other guys can't do it, but if you took this busy guy and put him on it, he'll fix it, right, and finish it." He said he will wait for that guy to do this job, and the other guy just play hooky. I said, "Thank you, good-bye." So my name is "Damn You." That's me. But he himself got canned, and he worked different places and tried to come into my place. "Damn you." I'm "Damn You." I ain't going to argue because I pinpoint him. He wants to get paid to go to school. Me, I went on my own to the east and go to school and then came back, so I'm free. It don't cost them nothing to hire. The other guy, it costs, so he got canned. So [inaudible] all that, they do this or that. Any hard job, they send it to us, our sales person, free one. We had one mechanic that works there. I said, "I want to hire that guy." He's a mouthy guy, and he don't know nothing. So they were, found him and got him to work for us for one year, and I told him this what we do. You do what we, I used to do, so he does that. Every day, lunch time, he walks over there and tells them that they're doing it wrong, and these guys are doing it this way, can't win.

SG: Did you have it, when you came back, did you have a hard time finding, how did people treat you when you first came back to Oregon?

BO: Okay, okay. Everest Brother, veteran. I'm a veteran. I head for veteran place. I ask them, you know. And then on top of that, I had the diploma to hang on the wall. When they leave, I take the diploma off the wall. Oh my god, no. That's the way it went. They get excited I left, but I want to look better place that I can make more money. I went to Harland Trucking Electrical and big stuff, more troubleshoot, more headache.

SG: So you think people treated you well because you were a veteran?

BO: Well, they all, we're different from normal, we're nuts. We're veterans. We could talk to the other guys, like [inaudible], and they like that. We're more flexible and understandable. And then on top of that, I got the diploma hanging on the wall. Where else they could go and see a person have that because they don't pay their way through school. That's the difference. Everybody should go to school.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2004 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.