Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Henry Sakamoto Interview
Narrator: Henry Sakamoto
Interviewer: Jane Comerford
Date: October 18, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-shenry_2-01

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

<Begin Segment 1>

JC: Let's begin at the beginning.

HS: Let's begin at the beginning?

JC: Begin at the beginning. I'd love to hear a little bit about, from the start, you're growing up, who you are. Tell me about your early life as a kid.

HS: Well, my early part of my life, I don't remember a whole lot about it, but I was born in an old hotel on Southwest First and Market Street. January 27, 1927, was my birth date, and I remember some things about that area because we didn't have a whole lot of neighbors. We had an old hotel, right next door was an apartment house and, brick apartment house, and we had Japanese friends that lived there. But the other if you want to call it a Japanese neighborhood there maybe two or three blocks away, and I remember we used to, I used to ride my tricycle around and around the block, and I don't remember too much about that growing up period until I got to grade school. Grade school I went to Shattuck Elementary on Southwest Broadway and Hall, and Shattuck is now part of Portland State University. So I went there first through eighth grade, and first day, my dad took me, and I guess he signed me up. And when they asked my first name, he said Henry, and that's, and the R sounded like a D, so for the first five years of my matriculation there, I was known as Hendy, H-E-N-D-Y Sakamoto. It's also on my old report cards. After about five years, I figured out that it's supposed to be Henry, so I made the change. From then on, I was Henry Sakamoto.

One of the classes that I remember at Shattuck grade school was auditorium class. And in the auditorium class, it's, the class is within the auditorium so you're sitting there row after row, and Mrs. Pygate was our teacher, and she taught us a lot of good things as I recall, something in the order of Robert's Rules of Order, how to run a meeting, and demonstrated that, and we participated in the process. And she even taught us something as simple as how to avoid pedestrian traffic when you're walking with, against somebody else. She said, "Always pass to the right, and you'll never collide," simple rule, but it, you know. Over in Europe, you get confused because they do right from left over there. One of the things that she also did was put on short plays like pirates and bad people, and she put on short plays about some of our American heroes like Nathan Hale, historical things, and she asked me if I would play Nathan Hale, and I said, "Gee, I don't know. I'm Japanese and Nathan Hale's American." She said, "You're an American and you can play Nathan Hale," so I did. Anyway, went from there, oh, another name I happen to remember that during the seventh and eighth grade, our class, the boys, we were a good softball team and championship caliber even in the seventh grade, and I was always a poor hitter at bat. But one of the names I had when I went to bat, they'd cheer me on, they'd say, "Sock that tomato, Sakamoto." So I was Saka-Tomato as well. After grade school, we went to Lincoln High School, the old Lincoln High School down there on... was it Broadway and about Harrison, I guess. Anyway, old Lincoln High School is now part of the Portland State system, Lincoln Hall I guess. So a lot of my early experiences had to do with developing Portland State University, you see. Well, we went to, I went to high school for a couple years, and it was during my sophomore year that we had to leave because of the internment, evacuation. And in the spring of 1942, we had our evacuation order, so I had to go around and, all of us Nisei had to go around and get our sign-out sheets signed by our teachers. And my English teacher at that time, Mrs. Town I recall, when it came time to give her the slip to sign me out, she cried.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

JC: I want to ask a couple of questions, kind of somewhat going back. Did the Japanese American kids who were south of Burnside have contact with the Japanese American kids that were north of Burnside? That's one question. And the other was sort of what was the racial ethnic makeup of both Shattuck and Lincoln in those days?

HS: Well, Shattuck School had a what I call a diversity. It had a diverse student body there, Japanese, children of Japanese ancestry, children of Chinese ancestry. There were children of, in the Jewish faith, and so it was pretty much majority of Chinese, Japanese, and Jewish, and then the Caucasian kids were the minority kind of like. And the, and Lincoln High School also was pretty much the same pattern, so we had developed a lot of good friends in the Chinese neighborhoods. And the, I think the diversity in North Portland, Northwest Portland, was, I hear stories about the old Atkinson grade school in Northwest Portland that was probably ninety percent Chinese and Japanese, so I'm not too positive but the diversity wasn't as diverse as it was in Southwest Portland. And we had Japantown Southwest and Japantown Northwest, and it was very rare that the twain would meet because we stayed in our own neighborhoods. We played, in Southwest Portland, for example, as well as in Northwest Portland. There were probably three or four Japanese families per block, so we had a lot of friends growing up in the neighborhood, so your playmates were there, and so there was no need to really go discover new playmates in North Portland. However, in Southwest Portland, we had the Japanese school in South Portland. And in Northwest Portland, there's a Japanese school in Northwest Portland, so the Nisei kids went to the separate Japanese schools. We had to go to these Japanese schools after regular school during the day. Let's see, I think school let out about 3:30, and then we'd go to Japanese school at 4 o'clock. Classes would start during the weekday for an hour, and on Saturdays we had to go two hours. And we did meet with the North Portland Japanese school once a year at the community picnics, undoukai, where we would have athletic races, run races, and South Portland would wear these little beanie caps. And there were two colors, white on one side and red on the other, and we'd wear the beanie caps with the red exposed and the North Portland Japanese school would wear the caps with the white exposed, and we would compete in running races and win prizes. It's about the only time that there would be big social occasions between North and South Portland; otherwise, it was just a family thing.

But we would play with our, in South Portland for sure, we would take over a street. Most of the Japanese ran hotels, and my folks ran hotels. It was a good way to, I would guess, raise your family because you'd be all be there together and, like we would, we set aside one room for the bedroom, and there'd be one living room and then there's the kitchen, so the whole family would be utilizing that space all the time so we, we were under parental control for a good part of the time. And we would play in the neighborhood, like our hotel was on Southwest First Avenue between Salmon and Main. Well, down a block away between Salmon and Taylor, George Hara's family ran the Australia Hotel. Well, after dinner, we would get together and play out in the street until pretty much it was getting dark, but they were on Taylor Street. We could virtually take over the street and play our games, Kick the Can or even ride our bicycles, play hide and go seek. One of the reasons for that is because in those days, pre-World War II, and particularly in the late '30s as we were growing up, there was very, very little automotive traffic. And so when an automobile comes down the street, we would clear the streets, get out of the way, and probably would be another half hour before another car would come around as opposed to these days.

So I did get to know the Northwest Portland territory quite well because before World War II for a year or two I delivered the Japanese newspaper. Mr. Oyama was the publisher and I took over the Northwest route, and it was a fairly easy route because all the Japanese places -- hotels, grocery stores and bath houses and whatever -- were very, very close to each other, so I delivered probably a hundred papers in that area in less than an hour, so it was a good job. Paid $8 a month and did that in the late afternoon, early evening because, and it was a daily, and it would take that long to print the paper. And the tough part of that job was when you had to go around and collect the subscription because that would, have go out and make that route another time, you know. So on the days that we collected money, we had to go the route two times. But anyway, Mr. Oyama was a very, very nice gentleman, good boss. One day, when the printing press had difficulty and the paper didn't come out on time, but us delivery guys, there were one for Northwest Portland, one for Southwest Portland, and I think one for East Portland, but we had to hang around until the paper got printed so we could deliver it. This went to something like 7 o'clock at night. So Mr. Oyama would call our families and tell them that the paper was late so we'd be coming home a little bit later. But because we did stick around to deliver, he gave us, I think it was a dollar apiece bonus for the overtime and that was pretty generous I think in those days.

So anyway, I got to know the neighborhood as well as the Southwest neighborhood. And these days, they call that Old Town area the Old Town Chinatown area. Well, before World War II, there were very few Chinese businesses in the Old Town area. The Chinatown actually was south of Burnside on Second Avenue up to probably Pine Street, and there were a lot of Chinese restaurants and some Chinese businesses. So to call it Old Town Chinatown and ignoring the majority of Japanese that were in the Old Town area is kind of a misnomer, and I suggested that to a Portland Development Commission representative at a meeting I had that I attended along with Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center. I said, "You guys are too young to remember this, but in my day before World War II, that really wasn't Chinatown, didn't become Chinatown until after World War II and particularly on Fourth Avenue here." One of the big restaurants, Chinese restaurants, Republic Cafe, used to be Tokyo Sukiyaki, and that was a pretty big restaurant run by the Kawasaki family at that time. So anyway, that's north and south in the old historical pre-World War II times.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

JC: So now you're in high school, and it's pre-World War II.

HS: Pre-World War II.

JC: What's it like?

HS: Well, in as much as there was a pretty huge population of Japanese and Chinese going to Lincoln High School as well, the social part was not a problem, and then some of my buddies from Shattuck grade school, some came to Lincoln High School as well. And going to high school from grade school, their horizons enlarged, so part of our, a lot of my relationships with my Caucasian buddies got a little thinner; however, they remembered, remembered me, and we would have social discourse in the hallways now and then, but you know, it wasn't as bonded as it was in grade school. And grade school, you go mostly eight years together, so you get to know them quite well. So anyway, it was, well, my early high school periods, freshmen, sophomore year at the old Lincoln High was really not memorable. You know, I went to school, cut classes. There was one fellow I got really friendly with and Sid Ziggler was his name, but he and I decided that we'd cut class one day and go see a movie, and we went to cut class and went to the Paramount Theater and saw this movie. And then after the movie, we went back to school to get our stuff out of the lockers, and we felt so guilty about cutting class that we kind of like tiptoed through the hallways to get to our lockers. We thought, oh, we're going to get caught. That's how sensitive we were to being naughty or bad, I guess.

I was saying that early on that when we had to go to internment, I had to sign off with the teachers and had a, Mrs. Tom, my English teacher got very, very emotional because of the internment, started to cry. But, harking back to December 7th which was a Sunday and Monday, we went to, went to class at Lincoln High and Mr. York the principal called an assembly right away to... excuse me, to reinforce our, the student body's patriotism, and he remarked on the emergency. I'm trying to recall. Then we recited the Pledge of Allegiance and, well, everybody felt so patriotic we almost shouted the Pledge of Alleiance.


HS: A lot of our Caucasian friends supported us, and so I didn't have any negative experiences at Lincoln High School. The negative experiences came up outside of school in terms of some pedestrian traffic, and people would look, scans at you or a side at you and narrow their eyes, and some would call you "dirty Japs." But you know, we avoided encounters because we were probably pretty sensitive to the possibilities that those things would occur, and our bringing up pattern was we don't make trouble, we avoid trouble. And so there were in my experience not any real bitter problems. We, during the period of time after December 7th, we had the curfew imposed, and we were all supposed to be off, all persons of Japanese ancestry supposed to be off the streets from I think it was 8 o'clock in the evening until 6 o'clock in the morning. So we'd be out playing with our buddies, playing out in the streets or we would in the South Park Blocks in that park Lownsdale Square across from the county courthouse or the county building, we'd play football up there because it was the only place nearby in the neighborhood that there was grass, so we could play tackle football. And as soon as it got close to 8 o'clock, we all ran home because of the curfew. We were very obedient, you see, didn't want to break any laws. But it became a fact of life at that time. Too young to realize the injustice of the curfews imposed on people of Japanese ancestry as opposed to Min Yasui who challenged the curfew and walked the streets of Portland after 8 o'clock and had to ask to be arrested. Well, that took a lot of courage. So then came the internment.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

HS: Well, after December 7th, then we began to hear that the FBI was going around searching our homes, our residences, for contraband materials see if you had any documents that were suspicious. The contraband materials were shortwave radios and cameras and any firearms, and any person of Japanese ancestry was prohibited from having those contraband items. So the FBI would go and search our residences without search warrants. Well, the grapevine started to percolate, and one family after experiencing that would tell another family that this is what's going to happen. The FBI's going to come knock on your door and go through your property, your personal effects, looking for things. And so our parents, not wanting to be cast in the role of being a suspect or having any suspicious documents or whatever, started to rummage through their personal belongings and destroyed anything that was Japanese, Japanese magazines, Japanese newspapers, periodicals, Japanese phonograph records with Japanese songs. Anything Japanese was trashed because they didn't want to be suspected of being friendly to Japan. So ultimately, the FBI came to our place. It was, at that time, it was the Brookshire Hotel, 1036 Southwest First Avenue, and came knocking on the door, went rummaging through our personal property, and my dad was sitting there trying to act casual reading the newspaper. Anyway, I had an old camera that was broken and had it tucked away in a drawer and forgot about it, but the FBI agent opened the drawer and found this camera. He says, "You're not supposed to have this." I said, "It's broken," but he took it anyway. So anyway, that was an experience. So you probably heard that on day of, on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7th, the FBI had a list of the leaders of the community and the church leaders and whatever, so those people were picked up right away, so you knew that the FBI had a list of suspects, and then the roundup continued for the rest of that week, and one by one, the FBI visited the homes and picked up these leaders of the community. Mr. Oyama was picked up probably on December the 8th. His kids, Albert and Minnie, were at school, and Albert comes home.

Anyway, the evacuation started, I guess it continued from April through May, and well, we had to go sign up at a central area, central precinct probably, head of the family and get a family number and were told what day we were going to report to the internment, I mean the evacuation camp which was the Portland Assembly Center, which is now the Expo Center but at that time was the Pacific International Livestock Center where they used to have, used to house cows and sheep and pigs and whatever kind of animal. And the Expo Center or the livestock center offered, what was it, 11 acres under one roof, so it was a handy place to incarcerate 3,700 persons of Japanese ancestry, and that started in April, and we occupied that assembly center until September when we were moved to Minidoka. But the period of time in the assembly center was a pretty trying time because... oh and the first instance, to create livable areas for human beings, they bordered up that area where the animals used to be housed which was dirt floors, dirt areas, but the dirt would contain the droppings of all these animals for over all those years, but what they did was they boarded up that area and then created these cubicles in which our families would live, but that didn't eliminate the stench and the smell of leavings, droppings from the animals, so that was a pretty horrible experience. Then the cubicles in which we lived where roughly 10 by 12. The walls were 4 by 8 plywood with no ceiling because on the living cubicle because the ceiling was way up there probably two to three stories away. So you had four walls, and the doorway to our living cubicle was not a door, it was a canvas flap. Theoretically, in case of fire, you could run out that door quickly, but also it made it easy for I guess security to check. But nighttime living was very uncomfortable because you could hear the noises from your neighbors or down the hall or whatever and people giggling and people crying and people laughing, and all those noises were quite evident. And in the assembly center, what was it, it was our family of four, Mom and Dad, and my other brother, my middle brother Tom. My oldest brother George was out of state. He was in India at the time, so he didn't go through, have to go through the internment process at the very beginning. So we had four cots and straw mattresses and talk about family being close. All the families were real close even families larger, six, seven, and eight people, you know. Maybe by then, they could occupy two different cubicles.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

HS: But the living arrangements were lousy. You had no privacy. The bath houses had shower stalls, and I can't recall, I think in the men's they probably had a half a dozen shower outlets but no partitions, so it was all communal. Even the toilets I think probably there were eight, half a dozen or eight commodes lined up and no partitions. And even the lavatories were, was hot and cold water but no partitions, so it was all very communal, and the women's facilities were very similar. So the lack of privacy was pretty devastating for a lot of people that had never experienced that kind of communal living together so to speak, you know. When we were kids, we went to the YMCA and swam in the nude without swimming trunks because it was all men, so it was, it was something that you've been exposed to, but a lot of people had not had that exposure, so it was a very, very difficult time, particularly if you were modest and shy, it'd be devastating.

And well, the eating arrangement was another large communal kind of thing. We had, what did I say, 3,700 population in the assembly center and the eating arrangement, the dining hall, was set up so that they could feed 2,000 people at one time. And the tables were like picnic tables so, seat six to eight people at one time. In order to make it, try to make it more orderly, well, you had to line up and wait, and then the head person would blow a whistle, then 2,000 people at a time roughly would advance toward the picnic tables and sit down and be served. Food was served by volunteer help who were the waitresses, Nisei, that wanted to volunteer to work, so those kinds of things went along pretty orderly. The food was pretty lousy and a lot of strange stuff that we never had tasted before. I never had hominy grits, didn't know how to eat 'em, and we had beef tongue and very strange things. We had rice, that was okay. But having a mealtime situation like that in our life or my life within the assembly center was pretty independent of parental control. So the parental control and the discipline under which we grew up evaporated. It was gone. So mealtimes, we would eat with our buddies, and parents would probably not see us from the time maybe we got up if I left our cubicle and went out and look for my buddies and started playing around, wouldn't see parents until bedtime. Bedtime was I think lights out at ten o'clock, so we had to be in the cubicle roughly after nine.

One of the other, one of the good things I think that happened is the recreational activities that were available to us. We built with volunteer help from the evacuees, the internees. There is a big area outside the Expo Center which is now the parking lot, but that area was all open, and we built, volunteer help built a baseball diamond and softball diamond. And through the generosity of the Portland Bureau Parks and Recreation, they donated a lot of athletic equipment. But we also within the assembly center created the recreation department, and the recreation department had in charge, was in charge of all the recreation equipment, and so we parcel out to the kids that would come check out baseball bats and softballs and gloves if we had them, and we had tennis, basketballs too, which is the arena area which is in the center of the Expo Center or then the livestock center. The arena area which was for rodeos in the old days, I guess, that was all boarded up and converted into athletic areas. They painted two basketball courts and a tennis court and a badminton court. So with all the equipment, you could avail yourself of these recreational pursuits as well as baseball and softball on the outdoor areas. So anyway, Dorothea Lynch was the supervisor, Bureau Parks and Recreation. She even came out to the assembly center a couple times to give ballroom dancing lessons and lessons in calisthenics. There was another gentleman, I think his name was Chappy King. I think he worked for the Bureau of Parks and Recreation. He was out there frequently. But our recreation department played it pretty smart. Whenever there was a highly contested baseball game or a softball game and knowing that there'd be a good attendance, the recreation department would take, seize that opportunity to pass the hat and get donations so we could buy more equipment, and that was a good move. And even though most of the internees didn't have a lot of money, they could be generous. Oh, Chappy King I recall now. He helped get us the phonograph records at that time, the big band music, Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey and all those things. Recreation department with the help of some volunteers was able to put up a good sound system, and on weekends like on Saturdays, I guess, there'd be a dance in the old Henry Theeley restaurant area out there at the Expo Center, and that was a popular event, and we were able to get all the current popular records through Chappy King. He was a good provider. And the, I recall one big event put on by the recreation department which is a, just before we left the assembly center to go to Minidoka, there was a farewell ball, and they hired a live band from outside. That was a good one.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

JC: I want to backtrack for a minute. When you were all taken to the assembly center, what happened to your father's business? What happened to Mr. Oyama's printing press? You're one day just disappearing to a place. What happened to all your family's belongings, everything?

HS: Well, when the exclusion orders were issued, I think that was beginning in February of 1942, then you knew for sure that you're going to be evacuated, so you didn't have a lot of time to get rid of your property or get rid of your business. There were a lot of like for example grocery stores sold their inventory on short notice, a lot of businesses, if they were able to sell their business and farm land, so the losses were quite heavy. And a lot of families put their personal belongings in storage in the churches, but then later on, the churches were vandalized and a lot of the properties were stolen, so the losses were quite, quite huge. And if you had property to sell, whether it be inventory or your business, you talk about a dime on the dollar. So one of the congressional commissions, the one that was created in 1980, their estimate of the losses was in the billions of dollars. The Evacuation Claims Act which was in 1948, I can't recall specifically, but they were talking about $130 to $140 million in losses, but that was a nice act but not really fruitful in terms of remuneration dollar for dollar. It fell far short in that.

JC: Did your father sell his business, and if so, who did he sell it to?

HS: Well, we didn't sell the business. On reflection, it was very, very fortunate. Most of these small hotels that were run by Japanese, and they were small. They were places for the, retirees because the rents were low or maybe some transient people that were looking for low rent. And some of the Japanese owned the building, but my parents leased it. And because of the tenants, the tenants tended to be long term tenants. And there was one gentleman who was there for a long time, Lee Martin. He gave me another name. My Japanese name was Shig. He called me Chig. I didn't write that down. But anyway, he agreed to take care of the hotel for my parents while we were gone not knowing, how long we were going to go, but they had an agreement that he would run the hotel and send my folks some money every month, so we had a little bit of cash flow, and not a whole lot but a little bit. And the, when my parents returned to Portland in 1945, the technicalities of the arrangement was a sublease to Mr. Martin, and my parents were able to do that. So when they came back to Portland, they came back to the hotel and took over again. Mr. Martin did an adequate job, but one of the conflicts was that he decided to go make money out at the shipyard, so he was a shipyard worker for part of the time. So the upkeep of the hotel property wasn't all that great, so there was a lot of fixing up work to do when my parents came back. But you know, it was a good arrangement. And one of the, well, it's not a curious thing, but the family that owned the Brookshire Hotel building and leased it to my parents was the Charagino Family or Italian family, and I don't know for sure, but if it was the patriarch that was assigned the hotel but he came down every month to collect the rent and he didn't speak English all that well and neither did my parents but they'd sit at the kitchen table and drink a cup of tea and kind of nod and say little things, and then he'd take, collect the rent, then go home, but it was a ritual every month. But anyway, because of the lease arrangement from the family, my parents were able to sublease it to Mr. Martin. That was a good deal for my parents. At least they had something to come back to after the internment whereas many families didn't. If they had sold their businesses and had nothing to come back to, it was like starting all over again when they first immigrated to the United States.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

HS: Speaking of delivering the Japanese newspaper in Northwest Portland, the newspaper publisher, Mr. Oyama, I think I mentioned, he was picked up by the FBI on December the 8th, so he really had no time to do whatever with the printing presses and so forth. But according to the story that Al Oyama tells me was that the navy confiscated all that property, the printing presses and all the Japanese letters and whatever, and Al or the family, they don't know what happened to all that equipment. It's confiscated and gone. So when Mr. Oyama came back to Portland after the internment, then he started the newspaper again, but on a decidedly and definitely smaller scale, mimeographed it, so that was a pretty slow and painstaking process, but he decided to incorporate English news as well in as much as he was mimeographing it. So one of our, she's now deceased but Kimi Tambara, she was the English section editor for Mr. Oyama, so it turned out, it was a very informative deal for the Nisei now, couldn't read Japanese but we could read the English part of the paper, so that was a good deal.

And going back to the assembly center time, while, when we had to go sign up and family got a number whatever, I think they decided to evacuate us or made us report in alphabetical order because our family, Sakamoto, was amongst the last contingent so to speak. But while the early evacuees got into the assembly center and figured out the conditions there, they would call. They were able to go to a public phone and call out. So my parents would get telephone calls, could you bring this and could you bring that, when you come, when you report. So to the extent that they could, they did. So although the orders were that you could only bring what you can carry, we brought a little bit more than we could carry. But in order to do that, we didn't have a car, so we had to hire a little truck or van and driver to take us out to the assembly center. So we got out to the assembly center and see the fence, the barbed wire fence, and see the military police on guard. We dumped all the stuff out of the truck right at the main entrance there, and I saw my friends inside, so I decided to go in and talk to them. And so it's kind of a reunion, and then I decided, well, I better go out and help the folks bring the stuff in, but I couldn't get out. The military police, I was in jail. But anyway, that's a small story. But the military police were there. We were behind barbed wire, and at the total facility, the military police contingent had a military-type barracks there, and then the barbed wire fence went all around the Expo Center or the International Livestock property, about 11 acres or so or even more than that considering. One of the other discomforts while we were there is that just to the west of the livestock property was a, I don't know, rendering house or something like that, and when the wind blew from the west, it stunk almost as bad as inside the assembly center. But anyway, it's a discomfort that, another discomfort that was, you had to live with. And talking about food, there were a couple of instances of dysentery when everybody got diarrhea probably all about at the same time. And in as much as the lavatory facilities were limited, people ended up having to go on the outside of the facility but in the bushes and things like that. So for a while, few days or maybe a week or so after that, we had to be careful where we walked outside. You never know what you're going to run into, life's expectations.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

HS: So I think it was along about in August of that year, rumors were that we were going to go to Minidoka, Idaho, and then it was, became a fact that we knew we were going to go to Minidoka, Idaho, and whoever heard of Minidoka, Idaho, before that time, didn't know where we were going to go. And well, demonstrates another facet of the internment for the Issei who had, if they came to the United States in the early 1900s, they had been here by 1942, thirty, forty years, a lifetime for a lot of people, and all of a sudden because of the Executive Order 9066 and the exclusion orders, there is no tomorrow. When, before the exclusion order, we didn't know what was going to happen. Then the exclusion order, we're going to go to the assembly center, and then you're in the assembly center, what's tomorrow? There's no tomorrow. Then we find out we're going to go to Minidoka. So then you're in Minidoka in the fall of 1942 and there's no tomorrow again, there's no future. On reflection, that would have been very, very difficult for the Issei to tolerate that after one lifetime of hard work. Running the hotel for example, some hotels were large, maybe fifty rooms or maybe a hundred rooms. If you have that many rooms, you can hire people to do those kinds of things. Our first hotel, the Vaughn Hotel, 1015 Southwest First Avenue, not our first hotel. First hotel was where I was, where we were when we were on born on First and, Southwest First and Market Street, and the Vaughn Hotel was the second hotel and my parents took over that one because the Gokamis, the Gokami family went back to Japan, and so that became an available property, hotel to run, and I think it had twenty rooms, not much more than that anyway, two levels.

But while we were running that hotel, then my mom decided to augment income by opening up a small laundry, and she would do laundry but contract the laundering out to a commercial company, and they would deliver the wet wash back, and she would dry it and then iron it and whatever. And so it was largely sheets and basically shirts and underwear and things like that. But every once in a while, I had to give my mother a break, and I would tend to the laundry. That's where I learned how to iron, flat stuff of course, not the shirts. But then she sold the laundry business to another Issei couple. But still one small hotel's not enough. So then on the corner of Southwest First and Main is the Brookshire Hotel, 1036 Southwest First Avenue, and that became available because the Nishimura family went back to Japan, and so my parents took over that lease. So for a time, family was running two hotels, the Vaughn Hotel and the Brookshire Hotel. The Brookshire Hotel had thirty rooms, two floors. We had to, us siblings had to help out, particularly on weekends. On Saturdays, we would vacuum the hallway and wax the woodwork and polish the brass. There was brass on the stairways. That was it. There is a technique to polishing the brass. It came in handy in my lifetime later on. I would mop the stairs and try to do a lot of the grunt work, even help make the beds, so I learned a lot of useful things, parents running the hotel. And I had two brothers. George was the oldest and Tom, and I was the youngest. So being the youngest, for whatever reason, I had to do a lot of the girl stuff. Didn't have any sisters so I became the, kind of like the girl in the family, washing dishes or running these little errands and things like that. So I helped with the home laundry, washed dishes. I even did a little, I had to, usually I had to watch the rice, you know. Mom would put the rice on the stove then she'd have other things to do, so I would be assigned to don't let the rice burn, so I learned the old fashioned technique of cooking rice Japanese style which technique I still use.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

JC: Well, we sort of backtracked there. So let's go forward, and it's in September of '42, and you're hearing word that you maybe are going to go to Minidoka, so talk about that.

HS: Well, the, I don't know if I could describe the anticipation. It's not a real anticipation. It's another drudgery, whatever. You have to go somewhere else that you don't know anything about. The other fact of the assembly center is that the internment went through two phases. First, it was the internment at the assembly centers, and they had to have the assembly centers because the ten permanent camps had not been constructed yet, so the Western Defense Command devised this method of getting the Japanese off of the West Coast. First, we'll put them in these assembly centers, and there were sixteen on the West Coast. Was there sixteen? Yeah, I think so, most of them in California except for Portland and the one up near Seattle, Puyallup, because the Japanese population of persons of Japanese ancestry was seventy, seventy-five percent in California, so they pay close attention to the, how to house all those people. So then anyway, they were constructing these permanent internment camps, ten of them. And typically, in Minidoka, they had to clear sagebrush, acres and acres of sagebrush, and so therefore, they cleared all that land, and so they left three to four to five inches of dust and built Minidoka on that kind of an area. So when we got there in September, it was, every time a breeze would blow, there'd be a terrific dust storm. The barracks in which we lived were not of very real solid construction, so the dust would leak in through doorways and windows that were not tight, so there was dust over everything in our living quarters. And if you got caught out there when the wind blew, walk through the dust storm, you'd age in fifteen minutes. Your hair would turn white like the dust. But anyway, it was an uncomfortable living situation.

We went by, from the assembly center to Minidoka, we went by train, and the train each, we were in coaches. The equipment was really old. It was like gaslight, but you know, I can't recall for sure. I think it was just an overnight. But we had to lower the shades so that we couldn't see out and people couldn't see in, and it was dark and dreary, and it was not a real pleasant ride. But we got there, and then we were picked up by drivers, these trucks, when we got to Minidoka, and it's a rough ride too within the camp. I don't remember a whole lot of detail about that particular segment, but the Minidoka internment camp was, if you want to call it, organized in a block system. A living unit was a block, and a block would have twelve barracks. A typical block would have twelve barracks, community mess hall, a laundry room, community laundry room, and community showers and toilets and a boiler room. And the mess hall and the laundry room would be in the middle, and there would be six barracks on each side. Each barrack would house six families. The living units on the ends were the small ones, maybe it would have two people. And then the next closer in would be the larger ones would house six or more people, and there were two middle units would house four or five people. And each living unit had a potbellied stove and one light hanging down from the ceiling, no partitions or anything like that, and of course, we had the army cots and no running water. So if you needed water, you had to go to the laundry room or to the bathroom to get water. And I figured out that from the farthest barrack, farthest point in the living units, to go to the bathroom to get the water or even to go to the bathroom is almost one city block, one Portland city block. And so there were no walkways at that time, no regular streets. There were gravel roads, and so you walk to your living unit walking through all this dust and dirt. But as time went on, if you could find the lumber, people would put together boards to walk on, planks to walk on. And then later on maybe in a year or so, gravel and rocks became available, so then we create walkways with the gravel and the rock. The living conditions in the internment camp were another instance of the lack of privacy. You had shower rooms without partitions and lavatories without stalls or commodes without stalls. But I suppose if you could get used to that lack of privacy by this time, one could get used to it, but that's something some people could never get used to in any case.

Then each living unit or block had a manager. He would see to it that administration was informed of whatever the needs were or means of communication from the total administration to the internees. We fondly called him the "blockhead," but he was one of the leaders of the community in pre-World War II in Portland anyway. But in our family situation, we kind of lucked out because we were in Block 32. I think totally within the Minidoka internment camp, there were forty-one or forty-two blocks. We were in Block 32. Half of our block was devoted to or committed to grade school, so half the block was a classroom situation for grade school kids. So we had a half a block population, and it was an advantage when it came to lining up for different things like lining up for meals or utilizing the laundry room. So population being half of a regular block, we got a break so that was good. And before you create an informal social organization within the block, get together for whatever, form a committee, should we throw a dance this weekend? Different blocks sponsored dances on Saturdays. If you wanted to do that, then create a committee and get to work and send the word out: "we're having a dance, come enjoy." But part of that was we would have the dance in the mess hall, and this mess hall, these mess halls also we had like picnic tables, so all those picnic tables would have to be moved and stacked if you want to have a social event, but we did.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

HS: And every Christmas, the block would get together and there'd be a contest on Christmas decorations, so we created the Christmas decoration and they would award prizes for the best decoration, humorous decoration, or whatever. It's a volunteer effort as well. I recall that first year, we had the theme of families from our block that were not necessarily split up but members of the family had relocated away from the West Coast, gone to New York, had gone to Cleveland, near there, so we built a so-called replica of the barrack and had streamers going from the barrack to the map of New York, map of wherever the family members were. And our family had a phonograph player, old fashioned one that would, you could repeat, it would play the record and play it over and over again if you didn't stop it. So we played the record "I'll Be Home For Christmas," award-winning theme. That was good. We called ourselves, we called ourselves the Tutty Fruity Thirty Tutties, nickname for our committee.


HS: Well, as a result of our award-winning display for Block 32, we, in that way I guess it was a Christmas celebration for a lot of us, first Christmas there in the internment camp. For me and for our family, it was not a real big thing. Even before World War II, we didn't emphasize Christmas all that much. We didn't have, really have resources. We had a Christmas tree, and we'd put that up so we'd know it's Christmas, love the smell of the old Christmas trees, the old fashioned way. But it, for our family, it wasn't a big thing. So when we were interned at Christmastime, it was not a big thing.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

HS: And life in internment camp was... I don't know what you would call it, pretty isolated in a way. But just as in the assembly center, there came to be a kind of a newspaper so to speak, and in the assembly center, there was maybe a two or three page news vehicle that was mimeographed, and there was a newspaper staff, people that were interested in journalism volunteered for that. The newspaper was called The Evacuazette, and they would publish mostly internal news, very little information about the outside, just didn't have the facility or the reporting ability. They were not part of the AP or UP, but it was a good way to communicate to the evacuees and give information that would head off rumors, things like that. So in a way, it was a worthwhile effort. In the internment camp in Minidoka after a period of time, there developed a newspaper. They called that the Minidoka Irrigator. One of the big things about Minidoka, we had an irrigation canal running alongside one part of the camp, and it would take the place of a barbed wire fence because nobody wanted to try to risk swimming across the canal because it was pretty swift. There had been a drowning or two I think accidentally because of the canal. And the Minidoka Irrigator was a weekly publication, and I'm trying to recall how I managed to do it, but I got a job with the Minidoka Irrigator to deliver the paper to each block. I was in charge of that. And the papers for each block would be bundled so all I had to do was deliver the newspapers to the block manager. And with that job, I got paid part-time wages. I can't recall exactly what they were, eight dollars a month or twelve dollars a month. But along with that, the Minidoka Irrigator was printed in Jerome, Idaho. So every Friday, we would go to Jerome, Idaho, to print the newspaper, then be available for delivery on Saturday. So that was a kind of an escape system, get to go to Jerome and have lunch on the outside and come back to Minidoka, then I would requisition a truck from the motor pool, deliver the newspaper to each block, circulation manager, great job. But Minidoka Irrigator would carry sporadic news I think from the outside news if they could get it, life in other camps. But here again, you're dependent upon outside newspapers that you would subscribe to Irrigator, Minidoka Irrigator would subscribe to, and the outside news would be delivered and you have to scan the newspapers to pick out relevant articles for the internees. So you know, there was a, you could get news from the outside world, but it was a, I don't know, painstaking process I would guess.

JC: Did you have any idea what was going on in terms of the war?

HS: Oh, at my age, I really didn't care. But if we got newspapers from the outside, yeah, the staff would, the Minidoka Irrigator staff would have access to that news, so therefore, they would be apprised of what's going on. And if they decide to reprint the article, then they could do that. Yeah, so we weren't totally isolated. Then over a period of time, we had radios in the internment camp although they were contraband from before internment. We could get news from the radios. But in those days, I wasn't interested in the news. I was just interested in big band things and Frank Sinatra, the Hit Parade. A lot of times, the connections weren't all that good. Way out there in the boondocks, the radio, the frequency would come and go and come and go. And for some strange reason, scientists would know, but I think it was on rainy days, the radio reception was good, a lot better than when it was dry. Yeah, so we could have contact with the outside world if one wanted it. So, within the Minidoka internment camp, there were jobs available. People could avail themselves, and they had internal security force that would be basically fire watch at night, and they had any number of needs for truck drivers to deliver commissary stuff to the different blocks. And within the block, there's a need for cooks and servers, food servers, dishwashers. My dad was, he was in charge of the boiler room, and he'd keep the fires going for the hot water, for the laundry, and the shower rooms, coal burning furnace. He'd take care of that during the day. Speaking of hot water, at the very beginning of life in the camp, we didn't have hot water right away. All we had was cold water. I guess the boilers weren't set to go yet. So we had cold water showers, wash all the dust out of our hair and in cold water. You had to make sure you had a good lathering shampoo because in cold water, the shampoo doesn't lather up too well. Then another, what discomfort for about the first year, we didn't have a sewage plant, so the option was outhouses, different outhouse for men and women and each block had two outhouses, and I think they were six-seaters. So here the communal life goes on. In the wintertime, that first winter, was kind of tough, and you would resist having to go to the bathroom for as long as you could because it was so cold and windy. Then I think by springtime, you had to dig new holes for the outhouses and cover up the old holes because they were getting pretty full. We still, like I said, I think it was almost a year before we had sewage facilities. Then ultimately, we got, we were able to go to the bathroom indoors protected from the elements. Somebody even tried to warm up the outhouse by getting a newspaper and lighting a match to it and throwing it down, but that didn't work too well. But anyway, life in internment camp, yeah, there was a military police guard at the main gate, and everybody that came to visit had to check in there and also check out, and if, and as life went on, it was, you could get leave from the internment camp for... I think there were three categories. You could get short-term leave, you could get medical leave, and you could get resettlement leave to go to school or if you had a job.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

HS: In the categories of requesting leave, the first year I think was the first fall that we were there in 1942. It was, for most of us, it was the first experience with kinds of leaves available and we found about it because many of the agricultural interests in the area needed help for the harvests. And in that area, Idaho, they grow a lot of potatoes and sugar beets, and they were in dire need of help for the harvest which was in the fall. And so I don't know how it all came about, but they probably, the farmers probably asked the government and the government then would ask the War Relocation Authority and the War Relocation Authority did whatever to recruit people. So I recall, we, some of us guys from Block 32 decided to get together and go out and help the harvesters, good way to leave camp. And it's short-term leave, and we had, got together six guys, not all from our block, but some mostly our, our friends. And so the, one of the more influential members of our group says, "Let's pick a place as far away from Minidoka as we can get." So we signed up with farmers from Rexford, Idaho, and they came down to pick us up. It was a pickup truck, two farmers that were going to share our labor, and I'm just trying to recall... Minor Azuma, George Suzuki, Ace Suyamura, Tommy Onishi, Kay Ito, and myself. I was the youngest. I don't know why it is, but a lot of these groups, I was always the youngest. So it was a pickup truck and I was the youngest, so they took sympathy on me and let me ride in the cab with the two farmers, and so all the other guys stayed in the back in the bed of the truck. I don't know how many, how long it took to get to Rexford, Idaho, but it's really not really far north. It's, where the upward panhandle of Idaho comes down. It's right about where it turns off to the east, but it's, it was far enough away and small town, and they showed us our cabin where we lived, and we batched it ourselves, and they came, took us to work and whatever. But it was, turns out that particularly in the sugar beets, we, far away from the camp, had little money making opportunity because the yields of sugar beets in that area were very, very small while the guys that went to harvest the sugar beets around camp made all kinds of money because the yields were just tremendous. And I recall, I think I netted enough money to buy a sport coat after paying all the other expenses and so forth. But it was an experience, but it's, you're getting away from camp.

Then other than that, the longer term leaves I guess, if you had a medical reason or whatever, you could get leave for that or someone in your family was ill. Then the longer term leaves were likely to resettle in another city where you could find a job or resettle away from camp to go to college, and that was another category of leave that I took advantage of after I graduated from high school. I left camp to go to Cleveland, Ohio, for the summer of 1944 and then later on in the fall to attend Ohio Wesleyan University. But these categories of leave, they needed to screen all the applicants for leave. And in 1943, they devised a questionnaire which would assist, I guess, the authorities in screening people. However, this led to large conflict because two questions in the questionnaire, questions 27 and 28, were regarded as loaded questions and created a lot of, oh, discussion and arguments within the camp and within the families within the camp, and I'm trying to recall, I don't know the exact wordage. Question 27 said in so many words, would you be willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States to wherever they sent you and, defend the country against all enemies and that kind of thing. And so the argument on that particular question among a lot of the internees was, "Why the hell should I serve my country when they took away my constitutional rights and put me behind barbed wire? My government did that to me and they want me to fight for them? How can they ask me to do that?" But, there were others that thought, "Well, it's a chance to prove my loyalty again and go out and fight for my country," yes and no.

Question number 28 dealt a little bit more with allegiance to the country, and it was a loaded question particularly for the Issei. The question said in so many words, would you foreswear allegiance to the Emperor of Japan and swear your allegiance to the United States and, forsaking da, da, da. Well, it's a loaded question particularly for the Issei because by law, they could not become naturalized citizens of the United States, and technically they were still citizens of Japan. So if they foreswore allegiance to the Emperor of Japan, they would be people without a country, so how can the government, the United States government ask the Issei to do that, be people without a country? By law, the United States government won't let you become a citizen of Japan, I mean a citizen of the United States. So that was a tremendously loaded question. But you know, some people answered yes to show their loyalty to the United States. But this created a situation, particularly those who protested the incarceration and denial of civil liberties by responding to the questionnaire "no-no," questions 27, 28. So then that created the "no-no" situation, and it was a, there were deep divisions like I said within families and between friends in the manner of answering that questionnaire. And to this day, there still are divisions that are there. In either case, whether you answer "yes-yes" or "no-no" took a lot of courage.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

HS: By virtue of the canal running through or running alongside the camp, there were, and it was a big irrigation canal about the size of a small river I would say was very, very swift. The water from that canal provided the means to create a off canal swimming pool, and I think we, Minidoka was, might have been the only internment camp with a swimming pool for the internees. I remember spending a lot of time at the swimming pool. It's muddy water, but what the heck, you know. You can stand that. Also, the canal provided the means for the residents in the different blocks to tap into the irrigation water, and the irrigation water would come, would come to all the different blocks at certain times of the day. So with that, you could create your own gardens and supplement the food on the table in the mess hall or, supplement by eating little snacks, whatever you grew in your quarters. And I remember my dad, he grew a lot of different vegetables, but I remember particularly, he grew radishes, radishes. And with radish, you can create this pickled variety of vegetables that the Japanese do called tsukemono and you eat that along with rice, and Mom used to fix quite a bit of that. I delighted in the fact that my dad was able to grow vegetables independently. We could have some independent food to eat. But... and I mentioned that when the rocks and the gravel became available and we would build walkways within the blocks so that we could traverse and get from our living quarters to the mess hall or to the bathroom or whatever without having to walk in the mud when it rained. And then the irrigation that came to the blocks, you had to create little diversions and avoid the walkways that were constructed. So, it was created, led to a lot of ingenious methods, although very rustic, of availing yourself over the water. This... well, when we were, when we needed to walk through the muddy surfaces to get to the bathrooms, this led to another kind of creativity where if the person had access to old lumber, 2 by 4s or whatever, then he would build the Japanese style slippers, what they call the geta, G-E-T-A, geta, where there were wooden things but you could create enough, what, height on the geta to walk through the mud without getting your feet wet or dirty, and so that's another example of creativity. And the availability of scrap lumber if you could find it led to the, those who had carpentry abilities and had the tools led to the building of furniture to use in your own apartments, so called. And there was, in the sagebrush area, you could still access sagebrush and that led to another area of creativity for some of the artistic people. They would find a piece of greasewood that had shape and form, and they would take that and peel the bark off and rub it and rub it and rub it and develop a polished piece of art with a form that they thought was, replicated something else that they were familiar with, so, using nature to its, what, to a dream accomplishment, I guess. Also to supplement the food in the camp, there was, under the authority of the camp were acres and acres of land devoted to growing of vegetables, different kinds of crops, and served by the irrigation ability, and that produce was delivered and divided amongst the several blocks, the mess halls within the blocks. Also, after a period of time, there was, created a pig farm for meat for the camp, and it was a benefit, grow your own meat, and I suppose there was a lot of pig feet available provided by the different blocks. But one disadvantage to that was the smell from the pig farm. When the wind blew the wrong way, then it would direct the smell from the pig farm down to the camp, and the pig farm is really stinky. It doesn't smell good. But anyway, so we were availed of different kinds of, different kinds of smells from the assembly center to the internment camp, what a memory.

And then, well, I think the internees, people in the camp, they had to, they resorted to their own creativity for their entertainment. There were movies once a week, maybe twice a week, and they were fairly recent movies, and I can't remember what it cost, a dime or quarter or something, so that was okay. But there were opportunities for people with talent to put on amateur shows, things like that. There were, there was a Kibei group. Kibei group is a group that spent some time in Japan. Although they're born in the United States, they received some of their education in Japan, then returned to the United States before World War II, and so they knew the Japanese language quite well, could speak Japanese fluently, and many of the Kibei group served in the Military Intelligence Service for the United States Army being interpreters and translators over in the Pacific area. But the Kibei group within the internment camp, they were pretty musically inclined, played the piano, played the harmonica, and things like that, so they were a great group to put on entertainment. And then not to mention many of the younger girls during their formative years and even before World War II, before internment, they would go to Japanese dance classes, odori. They would learn the Japanese form of dance, a graceful and non-raucous and non-erotic form of dance, very, very gentle and graceful. So those girls would have the opportunity to show their talents and put on and participate in these talent shows.

And what else, examples of creativity, I guess. There were people that like to sing and this was pre-karaoke, and we would have assemblies in high school or even grade school I'm pretty sure, and they would ask for volunteers that would like to perform, and the high school would have assemblies and time for these people to perform, and it's pre-karaoke. And so therefore, without accompaniment even, because there weren't too many pianists during that time that were familiar with a lot of the pop, popular music of the day and didn't have the sheet music, for example. So these singers would perform a cappella and sing popular songs and [inaudible], "I came here to talk for Joe," a lot of the songs of World War II. To keep the rhythm, they'd have the microphone and tap their feet to keep the rhythm, but it was great, good stuff. And then in high school, we'd, it's part of the assemblies so rowdier people would put on, one act plays, things like that, try to develop a script just for fun just to make the kids laugh, and that was fun. Then I participated in one memorable play. We set up a stage and had a curtain and closed off the stage. When it came time for the performance, one of the traditional ways a Japanese play opens in that you are going to open the curtain, you get two blocks of wood and clap them together. You start off slow and go faster and faster, clap, clap, clap, and the curtains open slowly, slowly, and then as the clapping picks up, you open the curtain. Well, most of the kids in school, Nisei were familiar with that, and when we did that, it brought the house down, no talent, they're just clapping the wood. But when you're in an internment camp, anything is good, you know. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 14>

JC: So when did you leave the internment camp?

HS: Well, after I finished high school which was 1944, June of 1944, there's another tale to tell of my old high, old Lincoln High School for pre-college. You need to have foreign language, so I decided to take Spanish. I figured Spanish is easier than Latin or sounded easier than French. So my teacher was Mrs. Setum and I went through freshman and sophomore Spanish classes. But when we left Portland, that was April, the quarter wasn't completed, but Mrs. Setum gave me full credit for that quarter. So one day the principal at the high school in Minidoka that we called the Hunt High School because Hunt was the post office address for the camp, not Minidoka, called me in and said, "You know, Mrs. Setum from Lincoln High School sent you credit for that quarter of Spanish that you were unable to complete, but then that makes you eligible to graduate. So if you want to graduate this year, you can." So I said, "whoop-dee-doo." So I graduated ahead of the class of '45 that I would have normally graduated with. So anyway, thank you to Mrs. Setum for that. And that, I left camp to go to Ohio Wesleyan University, but Ohio Wesleyan University, they're on a semester basis. I think they started I can't recall, October, and so I decided to go to Cleveland, Ohio, to work for the summer and make some money to go to college, make more money than I did on the sugar beets, hopefully. But one of the big reasons I went to Ohio Wesleyan University is that even before I graduated from high school in the internment camp in Minidoka, one of my good friends, Minor Azuma, who lived in Block 32, kept talking to me about, What are you going to do when you finish high school? You need to go to college." You should do, he's like a big brother to me, and he kept talking to my parents. He said, "Shig needs to go to college," you know. But how am I going to go to college, don't have the resources, don't have the funding over there. So, no big worry. We'll work on getting a scholarship. Once you get there, you can work. So money shouldn't be all that much of a problem. You just have to decide to go to college. And so he was a big impact. He was on my first, our first sugar beet crew as well. And so he... and he had gone to Ohio Wesleyan University. He's a graduate of the University of Portland before internment and then he went on to Ohio Wesleyan, and I can't recall how long he was there, but he found his way there through Cleveland, Ohio, as well as going to Ohio Wesleyan which is in Delaware, Ohio, which is just north of Columbus, Ohio.

So, he was kind of a pioneer, and he introduced me to, in Cleveland by correspondence to Reverend Ward who he stayed with before going on to Ohio Wesleyan, and I did the same thing. I stayed with Reverend Ward in Cleveland, Ohio, before going on to Ohio Wesleyan. And also in Cleveland, Reverend Ward, my stay with him was a couple of weeks or so, I guess, because he had somebody else coming, and so he introduced me to a Reverend Seele who also, and these were Methodist ministers, and so I stayed within the Methodist church before I went to Ohio Wesleyan which is a Methodist affiliated college. So when, after I finished working in Cleveland and with the money that I had, I went to pay my tuition at Ohio Wesleyan, and everybody else was paying by check, you know. I had never heard of a checking account, so I pulled out my cash and started counting it out. I didn't know what to make it. I wasn't humiliated, but I guess I was kind of embarrassed. I didn't have a check to write.

But the curious thing, one curious thing, experience in Cleveland, Ohio, other people I've talked to find this very interesting that here I come from an internment camp where the army put me behind barbed wire under military guard and I went to work in a war plant in Cleveland, Ohio. This war plant had, curious product that they had is covers for portholes on navy ships, and you cut out these portholes from big slabs of steel and you have acetylene torches set up on a, follows a basic pattern, and once you light the acetylene torches and set the right temperatures, it's pretty automatic from there. But when the torches cut the portholes, and portholes drop on the floor, and then they're sent to some other destination to be finished, polished and finished. But in order to get them out of the, get those porthole covers out of the factory, somebody has to load them onto this thing that, and the crane picks it up and takes it away. Well, guess who did that work? And then these porthole covers, I don't know, thirty pounds, forty pounds, and put them in this steel thing, and you motion for the conveyor operator to come pick it up, and you hook up the bin with the lift and takes it away. So I loaded it up, hooked it up, told the guy to take it away. I guess I did an inexpert job because the thing slipped, fell right in front of me.


HS: Well, at this war plant in Cleveland, also there was, oh, maybe half a dozen other Nisei working there. And I was on the what graveyard shift I guess, went to work about 5 o'clock and got out of there about 6 o'clock in the morning, 5 o'clock in the afternoon to 6 o'clock in the morning, so my day is kind of like topsy-turvy and, but still since it was 6 o'clock in the morning, when I went home, I would eat breakfast. Then before I go to work, I'd eat dinner. But I don't know, stomach didn't complain too much. But also in this war plant, cutting steel, sometimes, there's some sheets of steel that had to be tempered, temperature had to be brought up or warmed up or something like that, and these huge ovens. So one day, the foreman who was a Nisei says, "Hey, I want you to help me do this thing," and said, I'm going to put, turn the gas on for this oven, and when I tell you when, you light this newspaper up and throw it in. So I said, "okay, it's easy." So he turns on the gas, and then he says, "Okay," so I light up this thing and throw it in, and whoosh, there's too much gas in there. Fortunately, I was wearing a cap, but the thing hit me and singed my eyebrows, and I wasn't wearing glasses, but it singed my eyelashes together. And after that happened, he, immediately, the foreman comes up and says, "You okay?" I says, "I don't know. I can't see, I can't open my eyes," but took me into the office and sprayed my face with tannic acid which is good for relieving burns. The burn itself wasn't all that bad. It was a flash, but it was hot enough to singe my hair. But tannic acid turned my face purple. I guess I was a sight there for a while. But these days, I guess I could sue the company. But it was one of the hazards of working in the war plant. Later on at that plant, they let me be the conveyor operator. So if I wanted to drop something, I'd be the one I could drop it on somebody else. [Laughs] But it was a good experience.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

HS: And continuing my Ohio Wesleyan experience in making money during the summer, the following summer, 1945, I went to Detroit, decided to try another city, you know. And so coincidentally, I found a job in another war plant in Detroit, a defense contract, and this one's a little bit different. They're making ammunition cans for transporting ammunition and it's an assembly line kind of operation, and my job, they put me at the end of the assembly line, and as the product comes off the assembly line, I'm supposed to check the rivets and things for soundness, bang it, see if it falls apart, whatever, through these things, apply some force to it, and then you put it in the reject pile or the good pile. And at the end of the day, first day, my arms were so tired and my hand was throbbing and I could barely close them, you know. They're kind of swollen. So the next day, I go back to work and the foreman says, "I'm surprised you showed up. Most people don't come back." I should have told him I need the money, but I can't recall. I guess the job started in June, and in August was VJ Day. As soon as the word came that Japan had surrendered, their contract is over, so they closed up shop just like that. Yeah, so I went out on the streets and heard the VJ Day celebration from downtown, really loud and noisy.

And continuing my education at Ohio Wesleyan University. When I first went there, being out of the internment camp and the environment at the school of 1,500, 1,500 enrollment, really small college and generally small classes, and you know, if you're there a year, you know just about everybody on campus. But most of the other students, I mean if they weren't from internment camp, they were from the eastern seaboard and other populous areas, Ohio. Being in Ohio, you get a lot of students from Ohio. I discovered right away that my education was really lacking. I really wasn't prepared for the college level stuff. I could read and write and knew my A, B, C's, but that's one of the things about going to high school in the internment camp. The teachers were dedicated and they were, or else they wouldn't be there. Why subject themselves to life in an internment camp to teach internees? The teachers there had to live under circumstances that were very restricted as well, live behind barbed wire and whatever. If you were able to teach on the outside, why, so therefore, they were very, our teachers were very dedicated, very conscientious, but we just didn't have the equipment, the books, the supplies, and the caliber I would, maybe the caliber of teaching or the level of teaching, not necessarily the caliber. And well, the chemistry lab was, when they built Minidoka, they didn't even think of a school building, so they took over one of the blocks that was meant for living, residential living, and converted that into the schoolrooms, and the laundry room was our chem lab, chemistry, where they taught us chemistry because we had running water there. But anyway, I don't fault the teachers because they were a dedicated group. But I have to fault myself as well though, put blame where it belongs. I was not a real good student. I was interested in extracurricular activities. For whatever reason, I was president of the sophomore class at Hunt High School. I was vice president of the junior class. But since I graduated early, I wasn't an officer for the senior class. But anyway, being responsible officer in the high school, you have to do a lot of other detailed things that frequently take you out of the classroom. So one scholarship I applied for, they get to transfer it from Hunt High School and they rejected my applications, said I lack seriousness of purpose because you spent more time out of class than in class. So you know, the troubles I had in freshman year at Ohio Wesleyan, I have to lay on my own shoulders too.

But the total experience was very, very good, very, very positive, and the classmates were, accepted us without question. I didn't experience any rejection, romantically maybe, but scholastically no. [Laughs] Then working a way through school, I tell my kids before when they were thinking about going to college, what you need to do is find a job in the kitchen area washing dishes or bus boy or whatever because you get meals with that job, so worked as a dishwasher basically, and you're entitled to two meals. And you know, dishwashing, you have a dishwashing machine, so it's not hard. It just takes time away from whatever else you might want to do. But I made great friends with those other students who are working their way through college, waitresses as well as other guys, and did that for two terms there. Most of the guys that worked in the kitchen area were music majors, and so what they had going, they had formed a singing group based on their focus of employment. This was in the girl's dormitory. So in the girl's dormitory dining hall, they have two traditional breakfasts, Easter breakfast and Christmas breakfast, and so this male singing group, music majors, sing a cappella, they serenade the girls. It was kind of a tradition by them. So they asked me to join their dishwashers' choir so to speak. So I says, "I like to sing, but you know, I don't know music." So they said, "That's okay. It's not important. If you can sing the melody, we'll work around that," so I said, "Okay." So I joined the dishwashers' choir, so my singing career had its beginnings. Anyway, oh, oftentimes, we would go serenade the girls at night and get together and then go to the, the girl's dormitory was built so that the building is a U-shape, so we go into the U, and the girl's dormitory is, I don't know, four or five stories, and we'd go there at night and not late at night, like 8 o'clock in the evening, and serenade and start singing. It sounded great. And one of the fraternity traditions at that school is that if a guy from a fraternity pinned a girl, he would go serenade her and the fraternity would serenade her and she would light a candle in the window, you know. When we sang, there'd be twenty candles. But anyway, and thanks to the music majors, we sounded great, you know. We continued at Ohio Wesleyan University. And in the spring of 1945, my draft notice came up, and by then, of course, 1945, the internees were returning to the West Coast. My parents were back here in Portland, and so I decided to be drafted out of Oregon instead of being drafted out of Ohio, so I came back to Oregon and got drafted.

Let me go back to the beginnings at Ohio Wesleyan. I said that I didn't suffer rejection but maybe romantic rejection. But one of the girls that was a waitress in the same dormitory I was, she was very, very friendly, and she's Caucasian, and she and her buddies and I would get together now and then just to socialize or converse or whatever. But anyway, I came around to ask her to go to a movie and kind of like dating but not dating and I think going to the school social place after the movie. That would be the extent of it. And it was not really a romantic relationship, although, there were times that we would kiss, whatever. This went on for, oh, a better part of a year. Then somehow or other, it changed. But one year, it was the next year I think it was, I was in the school social place by myself and there was a freshman girl there and she was very friendly, and so we started talking, whatever, and I don't recall for sure. I think maybe we went to a movie. But it wasn't too long after that, I found out that she dropped out of school. And I had the real strong suspicion that her parents made her drop out because she socialized with this Japanese American, and there was some foundation to my suspicion. I can't recall exactly, but you know. So anyway, there was kind of like a rejection there, but otherwise, no.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

HS: Anyway, came back to Oregon to be drafted. Let me see, it was the spring of '46, spring of 1946. I might have misspoke. I think I might have said spring of '45. In the spring of '46, my draft number came up, came back to Oregon to be drafted, and I was drafted, and I think I went into the army in May of that year and went to Fort Lewis, North Fort Lewis, Washington, for basic training. And one of the unfortunate things about that, being drafted at that time when the draft was ending, I was one of the last to be drafted and the army was going to discharge, demobilize whatever draftees were in the army. They wanted to, an army of all enlistees, volunteers. And so therefore, I was in our basic training company. I was one of maybe half a dozen draftees. Not that we were suffering any kind of prejudice, but every time it was payday, we had to be at the end of the line and enlistees would get paid first, and so the draftees were in a kind of a category that didn't quite fit. So when I finished basic training, the company that I trained with, they went overseas to Japan I think maybe to the Far East somewhere, but probably Japan. And then since I was going to be demobilized eventually, the army didn't know what to do with me, so they put me in a casual company. A casual company, what they do is they do all the dirty detail work around the fort. You fall out formation in the morning, and they say, "You, you, you, go to the coal detail, you guys go to the garbage detail, you guys going to get extra KP." You know, you do this thing. It's a lousy assignment, so that goes on and on.

One morning, sergeant asked if anybody knew how to type. Nobody raised their hand, so I raised my hand. I knew what a typewriter is. So not that I was really lying, but I was seizing an opportunity, yes, so they sent me to the personnel section for my boss, it was a clerk. She was very tolerant, and she told me to type out these personnel cards, so I did that for I don't know how long. But anyway, there was a Nisei fellow in the personnel section, and I chatted with him. And I said, "You know, I'm one of the last draftees, and the reason I got this assignment because I'm in the casual company, and they don't know what to do with me," you know, various aimless job assignments. So I says, "If you ever have an opportunity, have the chance, although I'm a last of the draftees and so I'll be one of the last to be demobilized, if you get a chance, put my name in a little ahead. I would appreciate it." I never knew, I never knew for sure if he was able to do that. But after one year of service, I got out. I was, got my discharge. It was one year of service. But having spent that one year in service, I was with the army, I was able to take advantage of the State of Oregon's GI Bill, and also the Federal GI Bill, so I went back to school. To continue my education, I went, signed up at the Vanport Extension Center which was in Delta Park which is a forerunner of Portland State University, so I've been involved with Portland State University a lot, but they don't really know that, you know. So anyway, Vanport Extension Center was at spring, and in the spring of '48, we had the Vanport flood, so Vanport Extension got flooded out. We didn't have to take final exams, but we got credit. So that fall, I went to enroll at the University of Oregon, the fall of '48, and those were the Norm Van Brocklin years, great football team, so it was good, 1948. But, at the University of Oregon, worked in the French dorm cafeteria, working my way through school, getting a free meal, being a busboy which is good, and so that was helpful. But anyway, I graduated University of Oregon, degree in business in 19, I think it was 1951, and the University of Oregon experience was, here again, it's socially speaking, it was good. Educationally, it was conflicted. I was not a real good student. I struggled, but I passed the courses to get a degree, had good friends going there at the same time, Albert Oyama, his current wife Mas. Who else was going there? Nobi Sumida, Albert Naito. He was the youngest of the Naitos or the Naitos. Fred Irinaga was going there, Bob Nishino, George Takeoka, a lot of the old timers. So socially, we had a good time as well.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

HS: 1951, graduated, started looking for a job. You run into some conflicts, apply for a job, college graduate. Sometimes you're looking for an entry level position. The employment situation wasn't all that great, for me anyway, and I frequently heard, "Well, you're, you got a good resume, but you're overqualified for this job," so you ran into subtle forms of discrimination. After I got married, the first apartment we looked for, follow up on an advertisement, do a check at the manager's office and takes a look at me and says, "Well, I personally don't have anything against you, but the owner is, doesn't want to rent to Japanese." So I guess in those days, they didn't have the housing discrimination bills yet. It came a little later, but you ran into those kinds of forms of discrimination. These days, I guess, there would be more subtle forms, but then not as blunt I'd say as they were in those days. But anyway, I finally went to work.

My first job was with Bonneville Power Administration and that lasted about a year and a half. I was in the fiscal department and got a reduction in force, budgetary appropriations problems, so I got laid off, and the personnel guy there said, "Yeah, check with the Department of Agriculture downtown. They're hiring temporary people like crazy." So 1953, I went to work for the Department of Agriculture and got a job as a clerk, temporary appointment, not to exceed ninety days, and then that was extended another ninety days, and then it went on a temporary appointment for a year, and I kept on getting extended. Finally, I got on the permanent status. And with what happened, what started out as a temporary appointment not to exceed ninety days, I ended up working for the Department of Agriculture thirty-two years and retired from the Department of Agriculture in 1985 because they, because of appropriations reasons ran out of money for my office on the West Coast. At that time, I was a branch office manager, but I had charge of our grain inventory on all the seven West Coast states. And although it was Oregon and Washington and Idaho that had the most grains inventory, we had some grains in California, not an important inventory down in California.

So after thirty-two years with the Department of Agriculture, I went to work for the Oregon Wheat Commission and worked for them from 1986 to 1989, about three years. The reason for that was because through my job with the Department of Agriculture, it was all grain related, had a lot to do with wheat farmers and the wheat industry from country elevator storage operations to export elevator storage operations. I had a pretty detailed familiarity with a grain operation from growth to harvest to marketing, and so the assist of the administrator at the Oregon Wheat Commission at that time thought I would be of great assistance to him, so we worked together, and we were a good team. In both of those jobs with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Oregon Wheat Commission, I never ran into anything adverse in my relationships with people. And because of my length of time with the Department of Agriculture, I was a so-called expert in the field and I got to know many of the Japanese grain trading people that were assigned to work in Portland, and these Japanese grain companies had branch offices in Portland, and they would originate export quantities in the export business because Japan is the biggest grain buyer of the United States grain, not only wheat but corn and sorghums, and they even buy rice from California and a lot of agriculture product. So, and the Japanese Grain Trading Company had eleven branch offices here in Portland at one time, and they would come visit me and talk to me or phone me as a representative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and I was, my position was in Japanese eyes was regarded as a pretty high position representing the federal government, and many of the senior Japanese were proud of my associations and my position representing somebody of Japanese ancestry in a high management position. So you know, I may not have deserved it, but I was held in high regard by many of the Japanese traders, so we had very, very good relationships going. But anyway, then I went to work for the Oregon Wheat Commission. Then in 1989 because of budget problems, I lost that position, and my mentor there, the administrator, Ivan Packard, he decided to retire. So anyway, I lost that job.

Well, taking the two jobs together, thirty-two years with the USDA and three years with the Oregon Wheat Commission, that's thirty-five years of experience in the grain and wheat business. Well, somebody suggested, why don't you become a consultant? So I thought, well, why not, you know. So I opened up a consultancy, called myself the AGRA Advisory Service and started looking around for a place to hang my hat to have an office, finally found a spot with the Portland Merchant's Exchange, a desk and phone service and that kind of things. But before I even bought a desk for myself, I had two contracts, so that was a good beginning. And then I thought, at the outset, I thought, well, maybe I'd do this consulting thing for a couple years and help build up my Social Security reserves because the job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture at that time, you didn't contribute to the Social Security, seven and a half percent of the gross went totally to the Civil Service Retirement System. So other than working in war plants in Cleveland and Detroit and other small odd jobs, I had very little in terms of the Social Security thing. So with this self-employment tactic and you do as a self-employed, you pay a generous portion to, a generous tax to the Social Security system, so I built that up a little bit. It gives me a cup of coffee. But I did, I thought I'd do that consultancy thing for a couple of years, but I ended up doing it for seven years. So what I finally decided to, quit my consultancy business, I had a total of forty-two years in the wheat business. But I finally retired fully in June of 1996. Two of my best contracts were optioned to end at that time, so I thought it would be a good time to end it and do other things.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

JC: So Hank, tell me a little bit about your personal life. I'm assuming you're not all by yourself during all this time.

HS: That's true. I have a personal life. Sometimes it conflicted with my family life, but I have a great family. I had a first wife. We got, and that association provided my three children. My oldest son Scott born on Columbus Day in 1953, October 12th, and he wanted a steak for his birthday on the real Columbus Day in Columbus Day storm in 19, which was in 1962. On that birthday celebration, he wanted steak, a steak dinner, and that's feasible. So, but on the way home from the office, I began to wonder whether we'd be able to do that because this Columbus Day storm had started and the wind was blowing and the atmosphere was this creepy color, but, and things were flying all over the place. But I got home unscathed and proceeded, wife proceeded to fix the steak dinner for Scott, and that part was fine, and she finished cooking and the power went out, but Scott had his cooked steak. My second son Blake, born August 22, 1961. He's a musician, and he does other things really involved with helping other musicians and involved with Portland Taiko, so he's pretty much of a night person like other musicians I know. Then our third child, daughter Nancy born July 1, 1963. And incidentally, Blake is married to Brenda who carries a professional name of Braxton when she broadcasts at Channel Eight in the morning and at noon, and they produced two of my grandchildren, Zachary and Jaden. Zachary is eleven and Jaden is five. And Nancy, married to Joe, Joe Disabido who she met when she was in New York, and they now live in San Francisco where he still works for the same firm but runs their branch operation in San Francisco. And Joe and Nancy produced my other granddaughter Sophia who is three years old going on thirty and has a vocabulary that's hard for me to believe, and she makes up her own language too. One day a story I heard, she was, her dad was getting ready to put her to bed and she starts saying these things, and Joe asks her, "It's difficult to understand you, Sophia. What are you saying? What are you talking about?" She says, "I'm speaking French," so she makes up her own language.

My second wife, Carolyn, who I really met through the auspices of the Oregon Wheat Commission but I'll tell you about that a little bit later, she was previously married. She has two sons, each of whom have two sons, so somewhere there's strong male genes in that family. So she has, Carolyn has four grandsons and I have three grandchildren, so all together, we have seven that we need to pay attention to and go to their baseball, soccer matches, what else, plays, school functions. And my daughter Sophia, I mean granddaughter Sophia in San Francisco, she's into gymnastics as well as ballet, and Jaden's into soccer now and softball, and Zachary's into basketball and was into baseball, so there are a lot of events that seven grandchildren get involved with, and we try to, it's very difficult to give them equal time. Two of Carolyn's grandsons are in Eugene, and we were going to go down there for Halloween because they have an annual request into Carolyn to accompany them on their trick-or-treat journeys, and I guess Carolyn must be good at. I stay home and help, stay in their house and help hand out the candy for the trick-or-treaters who come to their place. But anyway, through the auspices of the Oregon Wheat Commission, I met Carolyn. She formerly worked for the U.S. National Bank and worked up at the Dalles for several years and working at bank in the Dalles, she got to know a lot of the agricultural people up there, and a lot of them were wheat farmers. So every year, the Oregon Wheat Grower's League, they have an annual meeting held here in Portland, and the branch bank at the Dalles has an agricultural counselor who handles agriculture accounts up there and Carolyn knew him real well, and that fellow knows an Oregon State Extension Specialist who works in Salem, who worked in Salem, and they get together annually at the Oregon Wheat Growers' League annual meeting and go to the annual banquet. So the fellow from the Dalles was in Portland, so they both decided and they both knew Carolyn, so they decided to go up to Carolyn's office and, at quitting time and say, "We're going to take you to dinner." So knowing both of them, Carolyn says, "Fine, let's go," and she didn't know she was going to go to the Wheat Grower's League banquet, but she was glad she went because she, they wanted to take her there because they knew she knew a lot of the people that would be there, so she enjoyed that, that outing very much. But it was a banquet also at which the Oregon Wheat Grower's League recognized the Japanese Grain Exporters or Grain Importer's Association because of the volume of wheat they buy from Oregon. And so the Wheat Grower's League made a presentation, gave a presentation to the Japanese trade, and two of the Japanese representatives were there. So after the banquet, I got together with them, and we wandered over to the quiet lounge which everybody goes to and makes a lot of noise there. And going into the place knowing the state extension specialist that co-sponsored Carolyn's dinner, I saw him going in to the quiet lounge, and so he introduced me to Carolyn at that time. But we sat, we didn't sit together. We sat a few tables apart, you know. So anyway, afterwards, the next day, the state extension guy gives me a call, says, "You know, Carolyn's a real, real nice person, so you should try to get together sometime." So I said, "Okay." So I called her and this, the annual banquet is, meeting is in December, so just before the holiday season, so I called Carolyn and said, reminded her that we had met and that I was encouraged to give her a call, told her that, that I'll call her after the holidays since it's a busy, mutually busy time, so she said, "Okay." I did and called her and I'm just trying remember. I think this was, the banquet is in '90, I mean '84 and I called her in 1985, so then we got together and saw each other for a while. Then for a while, we didn't see each other, then we resumed. Then after, so if we started, in 1985 after knowing her for about '85 to '94, eight or nine years, we got married in 1994, August 13th, very fateful day. It's a good day for me. So anyway, that's the family.

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

<Begin Segment 19>

JC: So I understand that you were involved in the Japanese American Waterfront Park.

HS: The Japanese American Historical Plaza.

JC: Uh-huh. Tell me a little bit about that.

HS: Well, that's kind of like another product of the internment experience, but not entirely. Bob Murase, who's a landscape architect of international renown, he attended a Remembrance Day and I think it was in 1988, a Remembrance Day for Executive Order 9066, and Executive Order 9066 was the law that made it possible to evacuate the Japanese or persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast. That particular executive order wasn't specific as to ethnicity. It just was in general terms, any person could be removed from strategic areas at the decision of military strategists. And then when they issued that Executive Order 9066, they knew that the motivation and the purpose of that executive order was to intern 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry. But the specific exclusion orders were issued, beginning in March of '42, citing persons of Japanese ancestry. Well, February 12th, 1942, is the Day of Remembrance. And so on February 12th, of 19, I think it was '88, they had a remembrance day out at the Expo Center. It was well attended and spoke about all the experiences and whatever. Bob Murase had, in the back of his mind, had intentions of creating something to honor the courage of the Nisei who served in the armed forces, but also he wanted to do something to honor the courage of the Issei pioneers who came to the United States as immigrants and carved out a life in the strange land with a strange language, strange customs, took an awful lot of courage to do that. He wanted to somehow recognize that, those two things in particular, but he also wanted to be able to say something about the internment experience.

So after that Day of Remembrance, he went and talked to Bill Naito who is regarded as a visionary, then regarded as a visionary, very politically astute person and had the, as a result of his activities, knew a lot of people, and so Bob talked to Bill and they talked about that. So it was in 1988 I do believe that the Bureau Parks and Recreations decided to finish the Tom McCall Waterfront Park Project, and the unfinished part was north of Burnside Bridge, and so they asked for proposals. Bill Naito saw the opportunity, called Bob Murase, says, "We need to put together a proposal," and called together representatives of the community organizations to put together a strategy what they wanted the project to be and turns out to be a memorial park with, covering the details that Bob Murase wanted to touch on. Formed a kind of a subcommittee from the members of the Nikkei organizations, and so they went to work on it and came up with a proposal, submitted it to the city, and went through the whole bureaucratic process, and it was not an easy task to gain acceptance, but Bill Naito and Bob Murase persevered and it was accepted. Their proposal was accepted which ultimately eventually turned into the Japanese American Historical Plaza, but went through different thoughts on what to call the project. So Bill says, "Well, what we need to do is form a nonprofit corporation to seek out grants and donations and you need have a nonprofit corporation to do that because people don't want to give to, for-profit corporation for sure." So he talked to the subcommittee, and Bob Murase had submitted his estimate by then. We need to raise $500,000, so we all dropped out of our chair, fell on the floor, but he says, "Oh, we can do it. Each of you can put up a guarantee of $5,000." [Laughs] We picked ourselves up and dusted ourselves off, and we were not totally convinced that we could do it, but we decided it was a worthwhile project.

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

<Begin Segment 20>

HS: So with the help of attorney Terry Yamada and input of others, we formed this nonprofit corporation and called it, ultimately called the Japanese American Historical Plaza that deals with the Japanese American story and deals with the history. We didn't want to call it a garden because it would create confusion with the Japanese Garden up there in Washington Park or Oregon Park and, or the Oregon Zoo Park, and so started our fundraising campaign. I became president of the Japanese American Historical Plaza by default, and I've been president ever since we incorporated because nobody else wants the job. Call for nominations from the floor and nobody volunteers. So anyway, we have a good group, and you know, I think we did a good job. At the time of the formation of the nonprofit corporation, Bill Naito had working for him a kind of an executive assistant that he pretty much put on full time to the project which was totally helpful to us, amateurs that don't know anything, don't know how to write a grant proposal, whatever, and he did most of the work. So then we created a nationwide campaign for donations, and we raised five hundred thousand bucks, so that was kind of a miracle.

And the corporation that we formed, we called the Oregon Nikkei Endowment, and although the Oregon Nikkei Endowment was, the principal project was the Japanese American Historical Plaza, were awarded the charter to be able to take on other projects dealing our community interests. And so back in the formative days of the Oregon Nikkei Endowment, there were two other areas of interest that were committees of Oregon Nikkei Endowment. The first was the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, and the second was the Portland Taiko, and so they came under the umbrella of Oregon Nikkei Endowment, and so they were able to utilize our 501©3 and you know, to go out and raise grant money and get donations. One of the difficulties for Portland Taiko was the fact that many of organizations that grant money to the arts won't grant it to multiple purpose 501©3s. It has to be art oriented, so that created a handicap for Portland Taiko. So Portland Taiko then went out on their own and got their own 501©3, so Portland Taiko is no longer under the umbrella of Oregon Nikkei Endowment, but Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center still is as a project or committee of Oregon Nikkei Endowment.

So as a member of Oregon Nikkei Endowment and connections with Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, I get involved like a lot of people do in volunteer projects, and so I'm frequently called on to take groups through the Japanese American Historical Plaza and talk about its reasons why and its beginnings and so forth. Then I'm also a member of the Japanese Ancestral Society which deals with other projects with the community. The strongest projects for the community are scholarships given to high school graduates to further their education. Strong project is to maintain, care for, and assign burial plots in the Japanese cemetery at Rose City. And also Japanese Ancestral Society along with the Japanese American Citizens League, they're sponsors of the senior lunch program, Ikoi no Kai, at the Epworth Methodist Church. And so with these different affiliations, I'm requested to volunteer for different kinds of activities. Also as a member of the Japanese American Citizens League, I represented the JACL at the recent Hiroshima, Nagasaki remembrance and gave a five-minute talk at that occasion and was able to mention the Japanese American Historical Plaza, also able to mention the tradition of the 1000 cranes at the memorial on the Hiroshima. And a five-minute talk was a very difficult thing. They wanted me to talk about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki thing about the hope that such destruction will never happen again and also wanted me to talk about the Japanese American Historical Plaza, but five minutes. My first draft was about fifteen minutes. [Laughs] But, to go through different drafts, you reduce it to a lot of what I consider as profound essentials, so it's a helpful process.

And as a member of the Japanese American community, I was interviewed by the Oregonian shortly after the September 11, 2001, experience or disaster, and the interview appeared October 17, 2001. And shortly after that, I received a communication from a teacher at Rieke Elementary School. She was a library teacher. One of her things is that to get the students interested in current events, they get the free Oregonian and they go through the Oregonian page by page, and they came across my interview, and apparently, it evoked some interest and some questions, and so she thought that would be a good subject for her fifth grade library class. So I got a communication from her, so I gave her a phone call and asked if I would come out and give a ten or fifteen-minute talk to two sections of her library class, and so I said, "Sure." You know, the September 11th experience or this unfortunate experience gave rise to discussion on the Japanese American internment experience and the fear amongst the Arab American community that this internment could back fire and happen to them, so there was a lot of interest created on the 1942 internment experience because there are so many generations that have not heard about that. So I went out and talked to her class, and it was an interesting experience and a difficult one because you have to frame your vocabulary in not too many syllables, but they were attentive and asked questions afterwards. So I dealt with two sections and the time was limited, so the time for questions was limited, but it was good. And then, when was it, earlier this year, she called me again, asked me to come out and do it again so I did, and it's kind of like it's my job to do because people want learn about the, our internment experience, and they're missing it in their history classes or constitutional history classes, we find out that there's, there's very little mention about that experience.

At the dedication of the Japanese American Historical Plaza, August the 3rd, 1990, Bill Naito had asked, amongst the other speakers, Bill Naito had asked associate justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, Michael Gillette to be a participant in the opening ceremonies or the dedication, and he said that unfortunately textbooks on history are not, are rarely talking about the internment experience. He says even law schools mention it very little, so he says there's a lot to be said. So knowing that, how can you not go out and talk to people about the internment experience? So I've had opportunity to talk to... let's see a group at Reed College one night. There were about thirty students and faculty there, and usually whoever asks you to come out and talk says, well, you can talk for twenty minutes or so, so you frame your presentation in that. So that turned out to be about an hour's worth after questions and so forth. About a year later, I get a call, a year after the Reed College thing, I get a call from a person. She says, my name is so and so and I'd like to learn more about the internment experience and then its effect on education. And I says, "How did you hear about me?" She says, "I was at your talk at Reed College a year ago," but she wanted to do her senior thesis on that. So I also spoke to a group at Portland State University, participated in a symposium at Willamette University. I was interviewed at the legacy center by I can't remember his name, Todd something. He's an author. He wanted to learn. Where else? Oh, a personal friend of mine, we go out to dinner now and then. She, her male friend is a real close friend of mine, but she lives in an apartment complex that belongs to a group of ladies that get together once a month for a meeting, whatever topical interests. And after telling her about my internment experience, she wanted me to come out and talk to her group after their lunch, didn't invite me for lunch, but said I could have dessert. There's a group of senior citizens, sixty-five, seventy years old and so same kind of thing. I frame my talk, I think maybe went into a little more detail. I went about a half an hour and spent another half hour answering questions. And of course, they're of an age that they were familiar with that period of time, and it was a good experience.

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

<Begin Segment 21>

JC: So Hank, tell me about your hopes for the future.

HS: Well, as expressed many, many times, hopes for the future is that the denial of civil liberties will never happen to any other group as it happened to persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II. One of the unfortunate things about history as it's being made now is the matter in which the Patriot Act is being enforced, and the Patriot Act was of course passed without due consideration by our Congress, and so therefore, there are many provisions, and I'm no expert on the Patriot Act, many provisions in the Patriot Act that seem to permit denials of civil liberties targeted at persons of Arab descent in these times particularly. And as a result of the Patriot Act, the Department of Justice asked various municipalities to cooperate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in creating these joint terrorist task forces which in our case involved representatives from the City of Portland police department, and they worked together with the FBI, and I suppose that's supposed to be in areas of suspicious activity that might be in violation of the Patriot Act. Well, there are many in the community, particularly representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union, see this joint terrorism task force as an area that might violate the constitutional rights of many people, and one of the danger areas is that with the joint terrorism task force, there's no means for checks and balances. And so the, through the assistance of the ACLU and other local organizations such as the JACL, the city council has had hearings every year since the creation of the joint terrorism task force on whether or not to participate, and then after they decided to participate, whether or not to continue cooperating with the FBI.

So I was asked by the Japanese American Citizens League to testify at the first hearing along with my son Scott, and then I was also asked to testify at the second hearing along with my son Scott. And here again, you deal with time limits because some of these hearings can go on and on and on and on. And the very first hearing at the City Council chambers, the place was full, and so what could have been a three-minute presentation was reduced to two minutes. And you know, it's a difficult thing to say things that are thoughtful and germane in that period of time. You have no time to create a case. But there's another hearing coming up. I don't know the exact date, sometime this month. But even though we'll be limited again to two minutes or three minutes, I'm sure we can present a case that's a little bit more germane, and the reason for that is the Supreme Court on September 28th this year came down with two rulings that I know of anyway that they say the Supreme Court said it violates the constitutional liberties of American citizens and, that deal with the specific arrest, not arrests or detention of two Arab Americans for different reasons but held without charge, and so it's a violation of their civil liberties. They receive no due process, similar to what happened to persons of Japanese ancestry after Pearl Harbor. And Justice Sandra Day O'Conner in one of the rulings said that there is, and she referred to that under the Patriot Act, unless the Supreme Court says this is in violation of their constitutional rights, you're in danger of repeating what happened to the Japanese Americans during World War II, and that's, comment I thought was just really right on track. So the thing that you hope for in the future is that our political leaders are very, very careful in seeing that the constitutional rights of American citizens are protected. That's my hope. Is that a good hope for the future?

JC: Is there anything that I haven't asked you about or anything that you can think of that you'd like to say to future generations who might view this?

HS: Obey your parents. No. For future generations, beyond what I said, about being aware of your constitutional rights and how to make sure that those rights are not violated again, you need to be aware of what's going on. It's very, very complex to keep current of political events. It's very, very complex to even try to keep aware of what the political candidates are saying and how to separate fact from fiction, those things like that. But you can't begin to evaluate what's going on unless you keep abreast of current events and how those current events ultimately get interpreted and perhaps ultimately get put into law, and the greatest example is the current event of September 11, 2001, and how it got quickly put into law under the Patriot Act and how it's relatively simple for political leaders to misinterpret the law and misinterpret society and do things that are not in the best interests of the citizenry at large. That's a tough suggestion, but then that's what we need to do.

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