Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Yoichi "Cannon" Kitayama Interview
Narrator: Yoichi "Cannon" Kitayama
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: April 27, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-kyoichi-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: While your father was gone, did you or your mother know where he was or what was going to happen?

YK: Uh-huh. He was in Missoula, Montana. That's where most of the people went to. Either Missoula or... what was it, Crystal City, Arizona?

TI: Well, Crystal City, Texas.

YK: Texas, yeah.

TI: But your father was at Missoula?

YK: Yeah.

TI: And why did the government release him? Was it because they realized it was a mistake?

YK: Yeah, I guess so. That was pretty unusual for them to release him so quick.

TI: Yeah. You don't hear too many people who went to Missoula and then got released before people had to go to the camps. And when your father returned, was it a surprise to you and your mother, or you knew that he was coming?

YK: I don't know. I can't remember that part. I assume that my mother knew. I don't remember.

TI: Well, can you remember when you first saw him, were you surprised or you knew he was coming?

YK: I guess I was kind of surprised to see him.

TI: And when he came, you said you had to move quickly. So on May 1st, did you already have the evacuation notices posted and things like that so you knew you had to leave?

YK: Uh-huh.

TI: And you mentioned how your mother was selling the business. Who was she selling it to?

YK: She sold it to an African American. A guy who used to live close by, and he made an offer, I guess. Not many people would make an offer, especially with the clientele we had, I guess it limited the kind of people that would want that business.

TI: And did you have a sense of whether or not your parents got a fair price for the business? Because a lot of people had to sell.

YK: That I don't know.

TI: Or did you have a sense that your parents were appreciative that someone would buy the business? Like you've mentioned, it was hard business to sell, and they were able to sell. Did you hear any, like, conversation whether or not they felt lucky?

YK: Well, there was the one person that wanted to buy it also got the better part of the deal. I think the price was beat down quite a bit. They didn't make much off of that. Mainly because there was no competition. And I think by the time my father came back, I think the deal was done already, so there's not much you can do. He would have probably done otherwise.

TI: When you say he would have done otherwise, what other options were there, do you think?

YK: Well, he could have talked to other people to see who would be interested in buying, because my mother didn't know anything about the business part of the deal. So she would take the one offer and that's it.

TI: Okay. And so do you remember what day you had to go to the Portland Assembly Center?

YK: May 4.

TI: Wow, so yeah, your dad was only there for like three days.

YK: Three days.

TI: So there wasn't much... and how did you go from your home to the Portland Assembly Center?

YK: I guess we went by cab from the hotel to the assembly center. That's all I can recall.

TI: That's interesting. You're the first person I've heard that went in a cab.

YK: Really?

TI: Usually they were buses or things like that, or trucks.

YK: Yeah, we just, there were three of us, and we didn't have that much baggage. So I'm pretty sure we went by cab.

TI: And what were your first impressions of the assembly center when you got there?

YK: Well, it was kind of a big hall. I'd never seen anything like that. The other thing is all you see is nothing but Japanese in there. They all look alike. [Laughs] Interesting.

TI: And for you to feel like... because you're, I'm trying to think, at this point you're like, what, twelve, twelve years old, thirteen years old?

YK: Thirteen.

TI: Thirteen. I'm guessing it might have been like an adventure in some ways.

YK: Yeah, sort of. Yeah, it's kind of a fun thing, because it didn't really soak in, you know. In fact, it was a lot of fun because you get to see your friends, and then you play with them all day long. You didn't get to do that at home, had to go to school and all that. So this was pretty neat.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.