Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Jim Tsugawa Interview
Narrator: Jim Tsugawa
Interviewer: Alton Chung
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: December 16, 2013
Densho ID: denshovh-tjim_3-01

<Begin Segment 1>

AC: Today is Monday, December 16, 2013, in Portland, Oregon. We have Todd Mayberry as an observer and we have Ian McCluskey as our videographer, and my name is Alton Takayama Chung, I'm interviewing...

JT: Jim Tsugawa.

AC: And this is part of the Nikkei Endowment, Oregon Nikkei Endowment Minidoka Oral History Project. So, Jim, tell me, where were you born?

JT: I was born in Hillsboro, Oregon, back many, many years, born in Jones Hospital. And at the same time as I was being born, there was a Caucasian woman that had a baby at the same time. And I guess in those days it was, nursing was lax, 'cause she took me into the Caucasian woman, and there was a lot of screaming -- as I've been told -- a lot of screams went through the hospital. She said, "That's not by baby!" And so, but I've kept in contact with that kid during, through high school, and then I've lost him. So I was born in Hillsboro 1932.

AC: And what day were you born?

JT: June 15, 1932.

AC: And what were your parents doing for a living when you were born?

JT: They were in the pop and mom kind of a grocery store. They sold fruit, vegetables, cigarettes, candy, that type of a business. It was kind of like a Grapes of Wrath story. They were not very lucrative.


AC: So do you remember the address of the store that --

JT: No, no. All I do remember is if you're familiar with Hillsboro, there was a place called Shute Park, and there was a skating rink across the street.

AC: So what was your full name that you were given at birth?

JT: James Masao Tsugawa. And I think "James" was probably given to me by one of the nurses or somebody signing the birth certificate, because something was scratched out and above it was my name, James.

AC: Do you remember anything about the community at all in which you were born?

JT: No, not really. Not at that time.

AC: Any significance to the name Masao?

JT: I don't know. I really don't know why they gave (me a middle name). See, in our family, it's my brother Henry Tadashi, and my sister is just Toshiko, and my brother George is George Kinyo, then another sister was Sachi, then brother Akira, and then Helen Shizue and James Masao. So there was no rhyme or reason how they named us.

AC: So you had several siblings.

JT: Several. I had three brothers and three sisters. And they're all deceased except three of us now. My brother George who lives up in Woodland, Washington, has a nursery and farms, strawberries and raspberries and nursery type products. And then I have a sister in San Jose, California, and then me, so we're down to three.

AC: And you're the youngest?

JT: Youngest, youngest of the three.

AC: What was your father's name?

JT: Let's see, Masaichiro Tsugawa. Middle name I don't know.

AC: Where was he born?

JT: I believe born in, on the island of Shikoku in Tokushima is all I can...

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

AC: So let's just go back. So do remember anything of what your father or your father's family, what he did for a living while he was in Japan?

JT: Not at all. I think in Japan, whatever it was, the oldest brother got everything in the death of their father. And I think my father was the second in line, so I think he came to the U.S. to make his fortune.

AC: Do you know when he came to the United States?

JT: When?

AC: Yeah.

JT: Not the first time. The second time, when he brought back a bride, my mother, who was... they hit the port of Seattle in 1919.

AC: So they arrived in Seattle. What did he do when he arrived in Seattle?

JT: Seattle, they farmed potatoes outside of Seattle somewhere. And as I understand it, he hit it big. And against the advice of all of his friends, he sunk it back into potatoes, and then he lost it all. So he was a pauper again. [Laughs]

AC: Did he have any formal education or very high education?

JT: That I don't know. I do know that he was in the military, not for World War II, but just in the military. And in the house there, in our kitchen, no, dining area, there was this magnificent picture of him in his uniform on a white horse, hand on sword, and it was just a magnificent picture, and I wished I had it. But that was all destroyed because of the war, World War II.

AC: Do you remember the day that it was destroyed, what happened to it?

JT: No, I don't know when Mom did that, but it was a shame.

AC: So what was your mother's name?

JT: Kazuno Ishii. And I've lost everything about her, where she came from, but I believe it was in a neighboring (ken), what do you call it, on the island of Shikoku.

AC: Do you know what her family did?

JT: Not at all. That's what's sad, those people that knew Mom, they're gone, their children are gone. So have no knowledge, which makes me sad, you know.

AC: What about her level of education?

JT: No.

AC: So your father came as a, his family was farming?

JT: That I don't know, the family itself.

AC: But your mother came over with your father in 1919.

JT: 1919.

AC: And they lived in Seattle. Do you remember the address you were at in Seattle?

JT: Not at all. I wasn't in existence yet.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AC: So your family spent time in Seattle, and you were born in Hillsboro. When did your parents move from Seattle to Hillsboro?

JT: That I don't know. That I don't know, but they migrated down to the Oregon, and his friends went east of the river and he went west of the river into the Hillsboro area.

AC: Do you know why he made that decision?

JT: No.

AC: And did your parents know each other while they were in Japan?

JT: I wished I knew.

AC: You don't know?

JT: Yeah.

AC: Was there a large age difference between your parents?

JT: Parents were ten years' difference. And a story told about Dad, he went back to (Japan), he came to America, and then went back for a bride, I guess, I don't know how he met Mom. And as I was told by my sister, that Dad was very handsome, black, shiny hair, and when they got married, and then they migrated to, immigrated to the U.S., and right away his hair got whiter and whiter. He was premature white, he had dyed his hair black to court Mom. [Laughs]

AC: What did your mom think of all that?

JT: I don't know.

AC: What was your father's, what was his personality like?

JT: That I don't know. That I don't know, but I think he was a very strict, regimented man. I think he was, but, you know, being not even one year old. I was one year old when he passed away.

AC: Do you remember what he passed away from?

JT: Yes. Nobody knew in the family, just that he died of cancer, but I was very curious, so I went to the Bureau of Statistics, and Dad died of lung cancer, and Mom died of colon cancer.

AC: Was your father a smoker?

JT: Yes, sir. And I guess he had a sore that never healed right here.

AC: So what was your mother like? What was her personality?

JT: She was very nice. I remember she was very kind, nice, and a beautiful woman, very pretty woman. And that's all I remember. That's the pits, you know, at that age, like when Mom died I was eleven, and you know, at that time, eleven year olds don't delve back in the history of your parents and what they did. You just didn't, well, most kids wouldn't.

AC: So after your parents passed away, who took care of you?

JT: I guess we took care of ourselves, really. I think we're getting ahead of the story, but my brother, George, who was exempt from the army because he was our guardian, and there was Mom and I and Helen in Boise.

AC: All right, we'll come back to that.

JT: Okay, yes.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AC: Do you remember much about your childhood home?

JT: You know, the home, it was that grocery store had living quarters in the back, and it was really a shack, really. It was not one of these, we had an outhouse, it was a two-holer. And Montgomery Wards catalog and Sears catalog on this one. And I asked my brother George, I said, "In the back of my mind, was there a kind of a dirt floor in the living room?" And he said yes, part of it was a dirt floor. And I said, "I thought so." 'Cause I was a young kid then. And I think finally somewhere in 1930s that we got indoor plumbing, and that was rather nice, instead of going out in the cold, out to the two-holer. And it's a funny thing, I wished I had pictures of it, but I didn't have time to look it up, but all the pictures that we took when I was young and that darn two-hole outhouse was in the background, it seemed like every picture, there was that outhouse.

AC: Was it unusual to have a two-holer outhouse?

JT: I don't know. But all I remember it was a two-holer.

AC: Now you said the living room of the place where you lived had a dirt floor. What about the bedrooms? Where they also...

JT: No, they were fine. I guess I don't remember even what the bedrooms were like, but the living room was, part of it was dirt, and then there was a potbelly stove in the middle of it to heat. It was not... thank god I was a kid, you know, when you're a kid, things don't bother you.

AC: Did you have many problems with rodents and vermin?

JT: Yes, yes, we did have big rats, I guess, running through the (store)... I don't know about through the house, but on the sides and stuff. And then my brothers would take a .22 and they'd shoot the buggers. [Laughs]

AC: And what happened if you hit one?

JT: I don't know what they did with it. But it was infested with rats, and big ones. Not the little tiny mice, is what I've been told.

AC: Do you have very many holes in the walls?

JT: [Laughs] I don't remember.

AC: So what was it like being the youngest in this large family in Hillsboro? Did you play with anyone else, or just your family?

JT: Well, the neighbors, the Seymours, there was, Donny was my age, Ernie was a little older, and then there was Janice. There was about five of them there. And then from school, I'm sure I played with some kids there from David Hill grade school. And I remember David Hill grade school had a big fire escape, just a big tunnel that went down the side of the building, so in case of fire you could run down. And being a little guy, you didn't have to bend down, 'cause it was a big, big tunnel that you went down in.

AC: No steps?

JT: No steps, just tunnel. I remember first grade there, winter, very embarrassing, because Mom always made me wear long underwear. And we had a Christmas program, this still I remember, 'cause I was so embarrassed. And I took that long underwear and rolled it up, so I had big area here underneath my short sleeve white shirt, we all had to have white shirts. So I had this big muscular area with the rolled up sleeve. [Laughs] And then we had the Christmas program, I don't know much about the Christmas program, but I do remember that because it was so embarrassing to me to have to have long underwear.

AC: All the other kids didn't?

JT: I don't know. [Laughs] They might have had, but I did.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

AC: What kind of games did you play when you were in school?

JT: I don't remember.

AC: So your friends outside of the family, they were...

JT: Caucasian.

AC: Caucasians.

JT: Sure.

AC: What kind of things did you do with them, or adventures did you have in the neighborhood?

JT: Well, I think one of the things that stands out in my mind is across the street was a park, can't remember now, that we'd fabricate little tiny swords out of slats, you know. And there was a lot of ferns in this park across the street, and so that I remember, we'd act like big warriors and slash those down. Then we'd get a rubber tire. And being small, you'd curl up inside the tire, and at the bottom were some tree trunks, and you'd get in there and they'd roll you down and you'd go over and over and over. If you were lucky, you'd miss the trunk of the tree, or if you hit, then it was, bam, bam. That was entertainment that I remember.

AC: So if you missed the tree, you'd eventually just stop, fall over?

JT: Stop, you would just (lose) your momentum...

AC: You'd fall?

JT: But if you hit that tree, it was an eye-opener. [Laughs]

AC: Did you participate in any sports at all?

JT: (I don't remember).

AC: What about any, do you remember any community activities?

JT: No, not at all. I do remember they would gather around maybe New Year's time at our house, and Mom would make sushi, and our friends said Mom made great sushi, makizushi.

AC: What was it like at the dinner table, if you remember, as a child?

JT: I don't remember anybody sitting at the dinner table, I really don't.

AC: Did you go on any long trips when you were a child?

JT: Oh, no. [Laughs] Maybe, if you consider Seattle, I think Mom took us up to Seattle. We had some good friends up in Seattle, Uyegakis. And I do remember going up there a couple times. That was the extent of my travels.

AC: Do you remember what it was like visiting this other family?

JT: No, I don't.

AC: What about school? I guess, now, you said you started off at...

JT: David Hill grade school.

AC: Uh-huh. How long were you at that school?

JT: First, second, third and fourth grade. And then we moved to (Portland), somewhere Mom found a place across from Montgomery Park, used to be called Montgomery Ward, and there she established another kind of a pop and mom grocery store.

AC: And why did she move?

JT: That I don't know, Alton. I really don't know. And we lived on Savier Street, and that's about it. Chinese family lived next door, and I remember the, I think it was called the Bluebird Theater, and I think five cents you got to go to a movie, and I always liked to go to movies because they had that Western serial, you know, it would be action and the next week a continuation. So that was entertainment then.

AC: Who was your, what was your favorite actor?

JT: I think it was Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. [Sings] "I'm back in the saddle again."

AC: Now what kind of games did you play in school?

JT: Well, when we moved to Portland, Chapman grade school, and I remember playing a lot of marbles. I was a great marble player.

AC: How did that game work?

JT: You drew a big circle like that, maybe, big circle, and then we would ante up maybe five marbles or ten marbles and we'd put it all in the middle of the pot. And then we would lag, and have a mark out here, and you'd lag who got the closest shot first. And many times I would hit the marble, knock it out, and what you call stick, and then you'd hit it again, stick, and sometimes I'd just clean the pot out, you know. So I had a lot of marbles, I remember, I don't know whatever happened to them, but I had a lot of marbles and a big marble, you had to get on the ground to shoot and being dirt, you always had a dirty right knee, pants.

AC: Did you stack the marbles in the middle or just toss them in randomly?

JT: (No), just kind of randomly tossed them in there. Sometimes there may be twenty, thirty marbles in there.

AC: Were you the best marble shooter in the school?

JT: I don't know there. [Laughs] It was fun. I don't know if kids even play marbles.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

AC: So tell me about a typical day at Chapman. I mean, what time would you get up in the morning?

JT: Oh, geez, I don't remember that, none at all, Alton.

AC: Do you remember what kind of, did you have a favorite subject?

JT: I think math, arithmetic.

AC: What about lunchtime? Did you eat the school lunch or bring your own lunch?

JT: God, that I don't remember either. Lot of "I don't remembers."

AC: [Laughs] Did you have any nicknames at school?

JT: No, not there. Not when I was young.

AC: Were there any other Nisei or Japanese?

JT: I don't think so, I (didn't) see any in the area that I... I'm sure there were, but not that I was aware of.

AC: In your class. So you were the only Japanese American in your class?

JT: That's what I think I was.

AC: The rest of them were all Caucasian?

JT: Caucasian.

AC: From the... any particular ethnicity or they were all mixed?

JT: I think it was all mixed.

AC: How did you get along with your classmates?

JT: I think good. I think I always got along fine with classmates.

AC: Did you ever go to any Japanese language school?

JT: No. I wished I had.

AC: Why is that?

JT: I can't speak of, speak anything right now, Japanese.

AC: But at the time, did you feel that you were missing anything?

JT: No. Just probably glad that I didn't have to go.

AC: Why is that?

JT: Well, we had, you commit your time to school again.

AC: So you don't... did you feel that you were even part of the Japanese community in Portland?

JT: No. Seemed like we were... no, I didn't feel like we were incorporated into the Japanese community.

AC: And did you feel that, did you have any feelings toward that at all?

JT: Not at all.

AC: So did you learn much about Japanese culture only from your family?

JT: That would be right, that I don't remember much about.

AC: Did your parents talk very much about Japanese culture or their relationship with the community at all?

JT: No.

AC: So in your case, you were pretty much the all-American kid.

JT: I don't know if I... I don't know.

AC: What about... now, how was home life, do you remember if there was any difference in home life between the times you were living in Hillsboro, the time that you moved to Montgomery Park?

JT: No, I don't remember any really family time, you know. It seemed like Mom was working, and I don't know, there were dinner times I don't remember. I'm sure we had dinner time sitting down at the table, but I don't remember those things.

AC: Do you remember having to do any chores around the house?

JT: Not at that age yet. That's coming. [Laughs]

AC: Okay, okay.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

AC: Did you ever go to take any trips to Japan?

JT: When we were in Hillsboro, my mom took us to Japan in 1939, my sister Helen, who was three years older than I, and we went back to Japan to visit her father because he was passing away. And she was very fortunate to talk to and see her dad before he died. And I think we stayed with an aunt, and she did quite well, I think, because I think she had a bathhouse, you know, Japanese bathhouse. And then I went to school there, and I lost all my English, and I spoke nothing but Japanese. And I remember, seemed to me like it was a mountainous area that we had to walk through, and I think I remember that down in the flats where the ocean water would come in and they would block it off and they would get salt. But I spent about, I think, seven months in Japan and then lost English. Finally, in 1939, we came back and, of course, they never passed me because I'd missed seven months of school. But they did pass my sister. I don't understand that; she must have been smarter. But anyway, so I had to repeat first grade.

AC: Because you were six years old at the time?

JT: Six, seven years old then. I was an old kid in the first grade.

AC: Do you remember how you got to Japan?

JT: On a boat, something maru.

AC: Out of which port?

JT: I think out of Seattle. Out of Seattle. I don't remember how many days it took, but I do remember... of course, when you're young, the flavor of food is really enhanced, but I can remember the, just plain old white bread with butter on it, and it was so tasty. I can remember that.

AC: Did you have much white bread with butter growing up?

JT: Pardon me?

AC: Did you have much white bread with butter growing up?

JT: I don't remember; I'm sure we did.

AC: But for whatever reason, onboard ship, that was exceptional.

JT: It was tasty, very tasty.

AC: And you went to... do you remember which port you landed in in Japan?

JT: Oh, no, no, I don't remember that.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

AC: So how was it for you showing up in Japan, not being able to speak the language, and going to school? Do you remember how you felt at the time?

JT: You know, that's a funny thing. It must be as a child, a kid around first grade, you just assimilate that language, you know, and you just give up your other language. And when I came back to the USA, I was, didn't speak English. But somehow, must be playing with peers, that you pick the language back up. I came back... I got a case of lice, and so they shaved all my hair off. And I think... is it measles that you get pockmarks on, or chicken pox, one of the two. So when we came back from Japan, my sister and I and Mom, here's this little kid with bald head and pockmarks and speaking nothing but Japanese, and my brothers said they didn't recognize me. [Laughs] 'Cause it was brothers that came up and picked us up.

AC: So how old were your brothers at that time?

JT: Okay, let's see, 1939, my brother Henry... I was seven... by god, he was about twenty. But, yeah, he was twenty.

AC: So they were all out of the house and working?

JT: No, that I don't... you know, when we were still in Hillsboro store, and then Dad died, then Hank, Henry, my brother, had to drive Mom in to Portland to pick up the vegetables, fruit, whatever, and then she would barter with the growers and then take them back to the store in Hillsboro and sell them. When Dad was living, George, my brother George, said that sometimes Dad would just go out and buy a field of peaches, just buy the whole entire lot. And then the kids would go out and pick 'em, and then they'd sell 'em in the store.

AC: So do you remember if you had to make any adjustments or if you missed anything from the United States when you were in Japan for that long?

JT: No, you don't remember those. I wished I did, but I don't.

AC: So when you came back and you spoke nothing but Japanese and you were tossed back in the school again, do you remember how you felt about that?

JT: No. See, that's what I was just thinking, how did I learn back, learn the language again? But like I say, peers, you go around with your peers and they're talking to you, pretty soon you pick it up, I guess. 'Cause I didn't go to school to learn how to speak English.

AC: Do you remember much about your grandfather at all?

JT: No, no. I don't even remember my father.

AC: What about the aunt that you stayed with who had the Japanese bathhouse? Was that different for you?

JT: That was a different living... so she was a short little lady, and we visited her later on with my wife's parents. They were our tour guide when, the time when we went to Japan.

AC: Did she remember you?

JT: You know, this is embarrassing, but we're getting ahead of the story, but when Dad, Grandpa and Grandma took us and he was our tour guide, he arranged for the shinkansen and all of the hotels, and then we went over to Shikoku and Tokushima. And one of the children came and got us at the port. And we went to Tokushima and went to this short lady, and she bought a huge plate of sushi, I remember, and we went upstairs in this house there and we talked. I talked through Dad, you know, and they had to come back. And all of a sudden she said, "I remember you. You're the one that shishi-ed in bed all the time." [Laughs] I said, "That's me."

AC: Do you remember that?

JT: I remember that. I was a bedwetter 'til I don't remember when.

AC: Oh, my.

JT: Oh, my. That's a good way to be remembered, huh? "Shishi boy." [Laughs] But she said, "I remember you now." I said, "That was me." And so that was a nice, nice conversation. That was one cousin, one of the cousins from Japan, and she was short, like all of us. And then there was another one that we visited, and he was a wealthy... well, they were both wealthy. God, made us look like paupers. And the one in Tokushima owned quite a few real estate in the area. Then the other one looked just like my sister, Helen, another woman cousin. But he was a big ship baron, god, he had lots of freight vessels that he loaded up cargo and back. So he did quite well, and he had quite a house, and the grounds were just like, you know, these Japanese gardens, that I remember. And I can't remember his name now.

AC: What else do you remember of your time in Japan?

JT: I do remember Mom took us to a, what they call takarazuka, it's a troupe of women who portray men and women, and that I remember going to that, and that's about all I remember. But that kind of stood in my mind.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

AC: And you returned to the United States in about 1939 or 1940?

JT: 1939. And then Mom moved to Portland.

AC: Ah, so they moved to Portland shortly thereafter.

JT: I think so, or shortly thereafter, and then she established that store across from Montgomery Park.

AC: Let's fast forward a little bit. Do you remember the day Pearl Harbor was bombed?

JT: No, I don't. I really don't remember. You know, a kid as... 1941, I was nine years old. And that doesn't mean anything to you, it's war. Well, I know, I was in Japan, I think Japan was at war with Manchuria. And I kept asking Mom, "Where's the war?" Where's the war? I want to see war." But no, I don't remember Pearl Harbor and the consequences of that.

AC: So do you remember anything, your reactions of your mother at all?

JT: I don't remember that. I'm sure they were frightened.

AC: Or what happened in the community?

JT: See, we didn't really belong to the community, 'cause we were on the outskirts. And I don't remember the reaction of Mom, but I'm sure it was scary.

AC: Well, you mentioned that picture of your father in his military uniform, that just disappeared one night, or do you remember your mom taking it off the wall?

JT: I'm sure she took it off the wall and burned it, 'cause I think everybody, anything pertaining to Japan was destroyed. Shame, that's a shame.

AC: But you had no feelings for it at the time.

JT: No, not me. See, I don't know what... I don't even know what happened to it.

AC: Do you remember if there were any incidents that happened while you were at school?

JT: No. No, I don't.

AC: Did you, were your brothers or sisters worried at all?

JT: I don't remember that. At the time, 1941, I think, my brother Henry, the oldest, was drafted into the army. And brother Ike was drafted in the army, so they were in the military.

AC: Where they drafted before Pearl Harbor?

JT: No, I think Henry was after Pearl Harbor, Ike when he was in Minidoka in the concentration camp was drafted out of there.

AC: Well, you said that you left for camp where your family was sent to Minidoka? Do you remember what is happening before you had to leave?

JT: No, not much at all except the relocation center, the Portland Livestock Pavilion, and I remember that it was encircled with barbed wire fence, thirteen acres, and there were sentry towers on four corners. And I remember the arena area that they showed their horse and cows and pigs, and that was all boarded up, over, and so that was made into kind of like a gym, basketball. I remember the sports, the baseball place. 'Cause I think I followed the athletes around everywhere, you know, I just loved sports. And I became kind of like their mascot, because they had teams and stuff. And that's where I met some of the young kids then, and then I was mixed in with the kids.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

AC: Let's back up a little bit. Do you remember having to pack to leave?

JT: No. I don't remember anything. That was the time when you could only pack what you could carry.

AC: Do you remember if there was anything specific that you had to have with you?

JT: I don't know. There wasn't much of anything.

AC: So tell me about, you talked a little bit about the camp, maybe the livestock building in Portland. Where were you living?

JT: What do you mean?

AC: In the pavilion, you said it was around, around the arena.

JT: I don't know if you know what stenchions are for cows, they put their head in the thing and then they (were ready for milking). Those areas were all removed, and the floor was plywood floors. And those areas were walled off like little apartments, I'll call them little apartments. There was no ceiling. I can't remember the dimensions of the area, but let's call it an apartment. There was a canvas door, and if somebody burped here, you could hear it down four places down. Feeding, I could kind of remember, I do remember flypaper, you know what flypaper is? It would be black, just black with flies, because in an area that they'd display, show their animals. We ate in shifts probably about so many thousand. Well, there were 3,500 to 4,000 people in this relocation center. And as I look back on the relocation centers were in California, and mostly everybody was in one of these livestock areas. But this was a time when we were detained here for them to build, like, Minidoka and Topaz and Rohwer, Arkansas, all these concentration camps. And I think there were about nine that they built. So this gave them time to slap up these buildings, which were made of plywood, tarpaper and slats.

AC: So you had plywood walls in these cow sheds, essentially, these horse stalls.

JT: Yes.

AC: And how high were the partitions?

JT: Oh, they were just like plywood, eight feet.

AC: Eight feet. And what was the floor like?

JT: That I don't remember, but I think it was kind of like plank floors.

AC: And you had, you were sleeping on cots?

JT: There were, if you had four in the family, you had four cots, and if you were one of the first few you had a mattress. And I'm sure they furnished blankets. And I know the last few that came in had straw mattresses.

AC: What did you have?

JT: Good mattress.

AC: Made of?

JT: Just, I don't know what it was made of, but it wasn't straw.

AC: But you were one of the first ones into the...

JT: That I don't know. But that was, you know, and you had a community type wash area, community type toilet area.

AC: Tell me about, describe what those looked like.

JT: Well, not very good. I don't remember, but I always, reflecting back on it, how embarrassing it must have been for the young ladies, you know, reaching puberty. There was no privacy, no stalls.

AC: No stalls.

JT: Yes. You sat down and you could have a conversation, you know. But that I always felt sorry for the girls, I mean, not at the time, but reflecting back.

AC: You said that the flypaper was covered with flies. What did it smell like?

JT: I don't remember the odor that much, but there was, you know, the odor of animals. And I had a good friend that I played tennis with right now, and his dad was in charge of a gang of Japanese nationals, and a place where they made lumber. And so, of course, when the war broke out, these people were put into that relocation center, assembly center, and Sam said he would accompany Dad, because Dad would take him some food and give it to him. And Sam said he can remember just distinctly the smell. But I don't remember because probably being in it so long, you just kind of get used to it.

AC: And what time of year did you go into the...

JT: May.

AC: May.

JT: 1942.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

AC: And how long were you there at the livestock arena?

JT: Let's see. It was September they put us on trains headed for Idaho, in September.

AC: So you were there all through that hot summer.

JT: Yes, it was a hot, hot summer. And let's see... and then when we trained to Twin Falls, Idaho, the blinds were pulled down.

AC: What about, I guess, there was no... there was no air conditioning, there was no fans, and it was so hot. How did you guys survive?

JT: I don't know. We made it. [Laughs]

AC: Did you guys have water that you could cool down on at least, or sprinklers or shower?

JT: Not on the train, I don't think.

AC: No, no, I'm talking about in the assembly center.

JT: Oh, yeah, there were showers, areas of toilets and that stuff, sure.

AC: What about in the horse stalls themselves? Was it sweltering in there?

JT: It was very hot. I remember trying to sit outside in the shade by the building. So anyway, it was not a pleasant... but when you're kids...

AC: How about the dust, you know, so hot and so dry in the summer?

JT: Well, I was told, Alton, that they had athletic department, police department, fire department, they had all this type of thing. And the fire department thought it'd be a great idea to hose off the hallways with water to try to cool it down. But the water would sink down into the areas that the manure had been, and the stench just came rolling up, so it wasn't a good idea.

AC: Wow. Do you remember any other characteristic sights or sounds or smells of that area?

JT: No.

AC: Do you remember about... what kind of food did you guys have to eat?

JT: That I don't remember either, but I was told that it was not the gourmet food, it was, of course, rice, but heart, liver, tongue. Not the choice cuts of meat. And I'm sure vegetables, but they always had rice.

AC: But you followed the sports figures around as they went from game to game. Any particular sport that you followed?

JT: Well, mostly it was baseball. Because basketball was not too much there. But I just followed them on the baseball diamonds, and I was kind of like their mascot.

AC: Did they have a pet name for you?

JT: No, no, they didn't.

AC: But they recognized you as the boy who kept following them around?

JT: Yeah, they did.

AC: Were you their good luck charm?

JT: I must have been. [Laughs]

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

AC: So you said something about, you remember from Hillsboro.

JT: Hillsboro, big event, August, and that year I don't remember, but it was a hot summer. And a kid named -- I finally remembered his name -- Billy Longfellow lived in back of us about, oh, maybe four or five blocks back, and they had a house and a big barn. And Billy and I one day, playing with matches, and we would light the straw and then put a jar over it and see it go, sputter out. But that kind of got out of hand, and it went and it just exploded, and the barn caught fire, and that's when I took off. [Laughs] And I ran through Seymour's yard, "Hi, goodbye," and I went to an old farmer across the railroad tracks, Mr... I can't remember his name, but he raised goats. And I stayed there probably 'til eleven o'clock at night, and, of course, the family was concerned because they didn't know where I was. They thought maybe I'd perished in the fire. But that burned all the way down, because the fire department didn't have any, was not real capable. But I don't recall getting any reprimand or anything, just, they were happy that we didn't perish.

AC: Whose barn was it?

JT: Billy Longfellow's mother.

AC: His mother's barn.

JT: Yeah.

AC: And you were down on the ground floor, or up in the loft?

JT: No, we were down on the ground floor. That was in August, everything's so just bone dry, and that fire just...

AC: So when you ran to this, the farmer who owned goats, wasn't he a little concerned that you didn't go home right away?

JT: [Laughs] I don't think so. He was just an old bachelor, and smelled of goats.

AC: What did your mom say when they found you?

JT: I don't know. I think she was very relieved that I was alive. And that Billy Longfellow came through Beaverton about, when I just first got into practice. And I asked him, "Can you come out?" He said no, and I asked him what he was doing, and he was an antique dealer, so he was looking for antiques, and I think he lived in New Orleans at the time. Anyway, that was quite a, quite an exciting time. [Laughs]

AC: Did you have any other close encounters with fire or death?

JT: No, that was it.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

AC: All right. Let's go back to September of 1942. You'd been in the assembly center for several months.

JT: Yes.

AC: And word comes down that you're leaving. What were you thinking, what were your feelings at the time, that you're leaving that area?

JT: See, I don't remember that. I don't remember anything about that, just that we were put on a train, and go back to Twin Falls, I believe.

AC: So they told you you were going to Twin Falls?

JT: No, no, not at all.

AC: So how did they get you from the assembly center to the trains?

JT: Probably army truck. No, let's see... yeah, I don't know.

AC: So they got you on the trains, and you're all crowded in. You said they pulled the blinds down?

JT: Yeah, pulled the blinds down.

AC: And did they tell you why?

JT: They didn't want us to, I guess not, to see where we were going.

AC: Were there any soldiers on the train?

JT: Yes.

AC: Were these passenger trains, or can you tell me, what was it like?

JT: I don't remember. I'm sure they had seats and everything, but I'm there were no sleeping berths.

AC: How long did it take you to go from Portland to Twin Falls?

JT: I don't know.

AC: So when you got to Twin Falls, how did they, what did they do when you got off the train?

JT: Well, I just surmised that they must have, army trucks taken us out to Minidoka.

AC: So do you remember your first vision of Minidoka?

JT: No.

AC: Do you remember what the living conditions were like in Minidoka, your first living quarters, your room?

JT: My room was, there were forty-four blocks, each block had twelve, we'll call them barracks, each barracks had about six, let's call them apartments. Each family had one apartment, and it was five people, four people, three people, and there must have been big apartment on the ends or something for big families. But again, it was just cots, and five in the family, five cots, a lightbulb with a pull string down and a potbellied stove that burned coal, I believe. And those buildings were made of plywood, tarpaper, and slats. Excuse me. And so in the wintertime, it was mighty cold, because I know it got really cold there. Summertime got mighty hot and dusty, and through the fall and winter months, you know, it was muddy, lots of mud.

AC: How many of you were in your family at the time that were sent to Minidoka?

JT: Let's see. Ike, Helen, Mom, Jim, George, five. Yeah, five. And then Ike was drafted out of Minidoka.

AC: So were you, do you remember which block you were in?

JT: Thirty. Block 30, and I think Block 29 had the mess hall. I think every other, I think the odd blocks had to have mess halls.

AC: Tell me about going for a meal in Block 29.

JT: I don't remember, but I think, I don't remember much about the food. Again, it was not gourmet.

AC: What were the toilet facilities and shower facilities like there?

JT: Well, it was, again, open. You have these stalls, there were no stalls. The commodes were just, you sat side by side. And again, I felt sorry for the women, you know, because they're a little more private than the guys, you know. Guys can just... that's not, they're not that embarrassed.

AC: What about the showers? Did you have hot water?

JT: Oh, yeah, there was hot water. But god, I don't remember much about that part of it.

AC: How far were the showers from your house, from your block?

JT: Oh, that was right in the center of the compound.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

AC: So when you first got there, how old were you at the time when you arrived in camp?

JT: Okay, 1942 I was eleven, yeah.

AC: Do you remember that first Christmas?

JT: Let's see. I don't remember. I think it was snowy, though.

AC: Were there decorations up, did people receive presents?

JT: No, I don't think so. No, I don't remember much about that.

AC: What about school? Did it take them a while to get schools organized, or were they organized immediately?

JT: No, I think it took them a little while to get organized, because they didn't figure on area schools, so they just took one of the blocks and made that into a school.

AC: So did you go to school?

JT: I went part of my fifth grade there.

AC: And how was it being in camp going to school?

JT: I don't remember. I remember they had me out in the discipline area lots. [Laughs]

AC: Why is that?

JT: I don't know, I guess I was not a good boy in school.

AC: Do you remember what kind of rascal things you did?

JT: No, I can't remember.

AC: What about your free time? You had lots of free time there. What did you enjoy doing?

JT: Well, let's see. Played a little, we were just kids, so in the summertime there was a canal that went by our area. And wintertime, it just kind of, the canal was, the water would come in and that would freeze over. And my brother Henry sent me some ice skates, so you could ice skate. Summertime, they released the water for irrigation purposes for the farms, and that became quite a raging little water stream there. And I would, if you started here, Alton, you'd end down maybe twenty yards down, that was that current. And then you got to the other side, and then you would borrow some of Farmer Brown's potatoes, and you'd jam it in your swimming suit, swim back, and then put 'em in a fire, and voila, it's baked potatoes. Big deal. [Laughs]

AC: Did you do, did you do that a lot?

JT: What?

AC: Did you do that a lot?

JT: Quite a bit. Then I think we had some drownings, you know, 'cause it was dangerous, that I think I would never let my grandchildren swim in that, you know, at the age of ten or eleven. And so I think the following year, I they diverted some of that water into kind of like a lake to make it into a safe swimming hole.

AC: Do you remember what happened when those drowning occurred? I mean, were you there, or did you just hear about them?

JT: Just heard about them.

AC: Were they young men like yourself?

JT: Yeah, young kids. Young kids.

AC: Were they all, again, trying to swim across to Farmer Brown's?

JT: Probably, probably. It was dangerous, as I look back on it now. So I, Alton, I stayed there in 1942, and then '43, Mom really got sick. And, of course, we had medical attention there, but she needed more expertise in the field of medicine. So a Reverend Johnson in Boise, Idaho, sponsored our family, rented us a home, and kind of looked over us. And so there was Mom and I, Helen, and George. And Mom was taken into the hospital, and she was operated on, sewed back up, because she was riddled with cancer throughout the body. So she passed away in December of 1943, so that left Helen and I and George in Boise, Idaho, in this home.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

AC: So when did you leave camp?

JT: I would say probably early 1943.

AC: Early '43.

JT: So I only stayed about a year in camp.

AC: You say you had an older brother who sent you skates?

JT: Yeah.

AC: What was he doing?

JT: He was in MSI, MIS, Military Intelligence Service, going through school in Minneapolis, Fort Savage, I think, was the place.

AC: And he sent you some ice skates?

JT: Ice skates, yeah.

AC: Had you ever gone ice skating before?

JT: No, and I learned real fast. I think I was one of the only few that had ice skates, not many kids had ice skates.

AC: Especially that first winter.

JT: Yeah, that first winter.

AC: So when you moved out of camp, moved to Boise and rented this house, all that's a lot of a change. What were you feeling at the time?

JT: I don't remember, but I do remember that I lived in the area of, radius of maybe four blocks, there must have been, gosh, about eight, nine of us kids from fifth grade to around eighth graders. And we played ball together, football, basketball, not basketball, baseball together. And the parents were really nice, and I never, ever felt prejudice. Just one guy, Lefty Reynolds, I remember his name. He said, "Jim, don't come around the house, 'cause Dad doesn't like Japanese." So that's, but the rest of them, god, the mothers just welcomed me in and treated me like a son. And I have fond memories of those people, 'cause they were really nice. And Boise, Idaho, and the city itself, there would be signs that said, "No Japs allowed," barber shop, "No Japs allowed," But otherwise... let me see, there was, I think, another Japanese family, Hasegawas, probably about three or four Japanese families. But I had a good time in Boise, Idaho. There was lots of play time.

AC: What kind of things did you do to play?

JT: We went down on the greens and played tackle football, and in the summertime it would be baseball. And I remember August, we'd go out in the junior high school lawn and lay down and look up at the stars and then there'd be a lot of shooting stars going by in August.

AC: Perseid meteor shower.

JT: Yeah, that's right.

AC: Now you said that in downtown Boise there were lots of signs saying, "No Japs allowed." How did that make you feel?

JT: Just stayed away.

AC: So it was your older sister and your older brother and you, and your mom was in the hospital most of the time.

JT: She was just, right away she was hospitalized, and she died in December, so maybe three months at home.

AC: How was that Christmas, that first Christmas without her? Do you remember how you felt?

JT: No, I don't remember. I don't remember many happy Christmases, you know, tree and everything. I really don't.

AC: So how did... were your older brother and sister working to support you?

JT: Okay, George, so there was George, me, and Helen. George worked as a bellhop at the Waihi Hotel in Boise, Idaho, and then Henry would send money back from the army. He was one of these odd... anyway, he was a gambler, and he'd maybe win some money and he'd send it home. Henry served in the South Pacific as MIS, and New Guinea first, Philippines second, Japan third. And in Manila, he built himself a restaurant out of stolen lumber from the army. And he said, "I'd probably be in the stockade now. I had a whole truckload of stolen lumber, and the MP stopped me, but somehow I talked my way out of it." And he built a restaurant. Can you believe that? And it was called Casa Manyana, and at that time, I think a cup of coffee cost seventy-five cents. He had a menu. And in the back room, Alton, was a gambling, so he'd rake off from there. But he was a go-getter. [Laughs] He liked you or he didn't like you, he was one of those kind of guys. Nice man.

AC: And he was able to do all this while still doing his military obligations, all in the Philippines.

JT: All in the Philippines.

AC: What happened when he was transferred to Japan?

JT: I don't know what happened to that restaurant, he probably sold it.

AC: But he was sending you guys lots of money?

JT: I don't remember, but it seemed like we got along all right.

AC: So your other brother, George, was a bellhop in the hotel.

JT: Yes.

AC: How was, do you remember him saying any stories of what it was like for him to be serving as a bellhop in Boise?

JT: No, he didn't say much. He worked odd hours. So actually, Helen and I just kind of grew up, no supervision, and no, didn't end up in juvenile court or anything. We were, this kid and I, Leroy Webber was his name, he and I played a lot of football together, sandlot football. But he and I were walking along the street one day in Boise, city, and a police car pulled up. Said, "Boys, I want you get in the car," so we had to get in the car. Took us down to the station, questioned us, and said, "Do you know Johnny Copus?" I remember these names. Johnny was an artist, he loved to do oil painting, and then he stole oil paints. So he said, "Do you associate with Johnny much?" and we said, "No." And then he questioned, he said, "Leroy, have you ever taken anything?" Leroy said, "I took a ballpoint pen." And he said, "I want you to pay for that, apologize to that pharmacy that you took it from." And he said, "Jim, did you take anything?" And I said, "I took an extra comic, one comic book and another comic book on a dare, paid my ten cents and walked out." He said, "I want you to go pay for that comic book and apologize to that pharmacist." And I couldn't do it, because he was so nice to us guys. So I wrote a little letter and put my dime in an envelope, left it there. That's all I knew, whatever happened. And from then on, I never crossed the police. Put the fear of God in me.

AC: So that was the only time they ever stopped you and pulled you over, and, "Get in the car, boys."

JT: Yeah, that's the only time. And another time... that's right. They said there was some lady that would, I'm in the fifth, sixth grade, you know, that would, you'd rattle on their fence, and she'd come out and chase you. So that sounded like pretty much fun. So we rattled on her fence and she came chasing us, but the police were there, too. So we got caught, we didn't get taken to the station, but we got taken home. My sister cried, she says, "My god, you're going to be a criminal." [Laughs] That was my last time with the law.

AC: And what did the police say to your sister?

JT: I can't remember what she said, they said, but that was my encounter with the police.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

AC: Did you speak very much, once you were out of camp, about camp or what that meant or anything like that?

JT: No, not at all. In Boise I went to a grade school, my fifth and sixth grade, Longfellow grade school. And in the springtime... no, in the wintertime it snowed. And so there was no throwing snowballs on the way to and from school. But, of course, me, I had to throw snowballs at this one kid, and I'll be damned if he didn't squeal on me. And the principal called me into the office and she gave me a big swat with a wooden paddle, I remember that. It kind of smarted. [Laughs] And then springtime they would hold a marble tournament. And you're looking at the fifth grade, sixth grade marble champ from Longfellow grade school. And I won, I think, an agate each year.

That was... then somewhere I think going to the YMCA, the pharmacist at the Y sponsored me to go to the YMCA where you could swim and play basketball. And I think I met these kids from different grade schools, and Flip Clifford was one, and, you know, I'd say, "Flip, get your ten other guys and we'll meet on the high school football field, and we'll play tackle ball." And there was a kid named Stanton Tate from Garfield grade school, we'd do the same thing. I don't know who won or anything, but Flip went on to play college ball at the University of Idaho. And I still think he holds the longest punt ever in Idaho's history. I can't remember how far. But that was that. And in camp, I must have been a football freak, but in camp, there was this kid named Tabo Watanabe, and I told Tabo, I said, "You get ten other guys and I'll get ten guys and we'll play tackle ball." And I don't remember who won, but later on, when I played tennis, this guy that I played tennis with was from Seattle and that's where Tabo is from, Seattle. And he went back to Seattle. And I just happened to ask Lori, I said, "Lori, you ever recall a kid named Tabo Watanabe?" And he said, "Do I know Tabo Watanabe?" He says he called him Toby. Toby Watanabe became an all-city running back for, I think it was Garfield High School or something. But he became quite an athlete. [Laughs] So that's my activity in camp.

AC: So you became a marble champion as well as really a football aficionado?

JT: Yeah, I guess I liked to play football.

AC: So after, I guess, how long were you in Boise? It was fifth grade, sixth grade?

JT: When was the war over? 1945? Yeah, when the war was over in '45, my brothers got out of the service. Nobody had any skills, nobody was educated, but Henry had farmed five acres of strawberries prior to going into the army. So they rented thirty-two acres from a man named Bill Hamil in the Bethany area. And they had no money to speak of, so they plowed the ground with horse, Bill had horses, and they harrowed the ground with horses, disked the ground with horses, planted strawberries, and they bought an old army truck, put wooden benches in there, and that's what I did. When we moved back, I was, what, a seventh grader, eighth grader. Yeah, I was an eighth grader, went to a school called Union grade school. It was a two-room school, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth, one, two, three, four. And there was a two-holer out about thirty yards out there, and I think that building was heated by a potbelly stove again, and that was quite an experience going from Boise, Idaho, in junior high school, maybe eight hundred kids, to this small school. But we did have a gym, by gosh, so this kid said, "You used to come over, or we used to come over to your gym from Skyline grade school and play basketball against each other." But '47 we combined Bethany grade school, Union grade school, and we graduated together. Those were the days.

AC: So how many school, I mean, kids were in Bethany grade school?

JT: No, I was in Union grade school.

AC: Union grade school. How many students were in Union grade school?

JT: God, I don't remember. There was only four eighth graders.

AC: Four eighth graders?

JT: That's four eighth graders, and then I don't remember the younger ones. And then in '47, yeah, then I just worked in the strawberry fields. After I got out of college and stuff, any kind of work was nothing compared to doing strawberries where you worked from morning to night, you know.

AC: What kind of things did you have to do to take care of the strawberry fields?

JT: Well, at that time, they did what they call, they set runners. Mother plant, mother plant, and they would send out runners. And you planted two and planted two between them. And you're going around the field on your knees and did that, pulled the excess ones off. Now they just rake 'em in with a tractor, you know, they do it that way. And then I did a lot of walking behind old Brownie, a big old brown horse, cultivator. And me and Brownie walked a lot of miles behind there. [Laughs] I could remember one time we hit a, must have been a yellowjacket nest in the ground, and me and Brownie took off down that row and we outran those jackets. But I don't know if I could harness a horse now. I put that old big harness on and put the bridle in his mouth. And that was, what, eighth grade? Yeah, it was eighth grade.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

JT: Then in 1947... no, my sister graduated in '47 from Beaverton High School. Then I entered Beaverton High School in 1947, and I must have been out, somebody must have had a football out in the field before we went in to register for first year, freshman. And the coach must have saw me slinging the football, because I ended up on the varsity my freshman year. And I didn't play that much, but I did play as a freshman, and I lettered as a freshman, basketball, I mean, football. Then that first year I was there, they introduced baseball, because Beaverton was a real track school, very strong. But they introduced baseball, and then I started, yeah, I played baseball there as a freshman. I started in right field. I didn't know my fanny from a hole in the ground, but they put me out there. Basketball I played junior varsity, and then varsity my sophomore year in basketball. Point guard, five feet three. [Laughs] Lot of fun. It was a great time, high school. I look back at high school and I think, gee, wished every kid could experience high school like I did.

AC: So what position did you play in football?

JT: Football, Alton, I don't know if you would know what they call the "single wing." Single wing was the center tailback, I was the tailback. There was a quarterback and a halfback, or wingback, they called it. So the ball was directly centered to me, and then I either passed or ran. So I was the cog behind the outfits, because I ran and passed, I don't know how I ever passed with these little hands.

AC: But you said you were the wingback?

JT: No, I was the tailback.

AC: Tailback, okay.

JT: So the ball, most of the time, eighty percent of the time, came to me.

AC: From the quarterback to you?

JT: No.

AC: Directly to you?

JT: Directly from the center. It was a fun time. I had a great time playing.

AC: Yeah, so you're football, basketball, and baseball.

JT: Baseball.

AC: Wow, you were, like, all-star athlete.

JT: Well, I don't know about all-star, but I played. And again, in high school there was no animosity, no prejudice, I mean, this is 1945, the war ended, and I'm '47. It was just two years out of, from the war's end. But I felt no animosity or prejudice. And, Alton, I was the only ethnic person. I was the only Japanese American. There were no blacks, no Filipinos, no Vietnamese, no nothing, just me, which was very unusual. Now you see, which is great, just integration of all the races there.

AC: Did that make you feel any different?

JT: No, I was accepted. And, again, of course, and I've thought about it, is being, playing sports, they accepted me probably more on that ability, and accepted me as that type of a person. I was very much accepted into the mainstream.

AC: I want to go back to one thing you had mentioned. You mentioned that your brother Ike was drafted from Minidoka...

JT: Yes.

AC: ...into the army. So was he part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team?

JT: No. No, he was not. I don't know where Ike served. Before I get any information, now that I think about it, you know, but he was honorably discharged.

AC: But you don't remember where he, he never mentioned where he served or what he did?

JT: No, he didn't. I guess I wasn't interested in his military career.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

AC: All right, let's go back to when you moved back from Boise to the Bethany area, where were you living?

JT: Farmer Bill, he had one of these old farmhouses. There was four bedrooms upstairs, Farmer Bill lived downstairs, and since Helen had one bedroom, and then the three boys, Ike and I and George had one bedroom, and then my brother Henry finally got married, he had the other bedroom with his bride. And the one room was made into a kitchen, okay? I don't know if you remember the old orange crates, they had a block, and you had that one shelf, or that one partition between that was set on each side, and a board was put between there. And then a single hotplate was, served as a source of heating, I mean, cooking. And we had to haul water up there, and so Toshiko, Henry's wife, would cook meals up there. And as far as summertime, it was all right because you could... I don't think Farmer Bill really believed in bathing. [Laughs] You know the old saying, every Saturday they'd bathe, the farmers? God, I believe it, too. But we would take one bucket of hot water -- summertime -- and then stand on this slab of cement out there near the pump, water pump. And then you kind of slosh water on you, and then you soap off, and you take the rest of it and rinse off. And that went on through the summertime, and then when I hit high school, there was the showers. So hallelujah, there was good showers, so I didn't have to do that anymore.

AC: So you took turns of whose time it was to be on the cement stops, or the cement block outside in back?

JT: No, no, then each brother would use that, get another bucket of hot water or two, there'd be two buckets of hot water and then they'd go out. That was... and again, what you don't have, you don't miss. But that was kind of the rock bottom, because the guys didn't have anything.

AC: So you'd boil water on the stove.

JT: Well, he did have a hot water heating system.

AC: Oh, he did?

JT: Yeah. And then my sister could use the bathtub.

AC: Uh-huh. But you guys stood outside facing the field?

JT: Yeah, generally we had shorts on.

AC: Oh, okay.

JT: You didn't have your weenie exposed.

AC: I wondered about that.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

AC: Okay, so you were there through high school, and going through Beaverton High School.

JT: Yeah, Beaverton High School.

AC: And you were the only Japanese American, the only person of color, the only minority there at all in the entire school.

JT: Yes.

AC: And everyone just kind of treated you just like one of the guys?

JT: Yeah, one of the guys.

AC: Did you go on dates in high school?

JT: Well, yeah, I did. Most of the time the girls accept, Caucasian, and I could go, there was this one gal that I dated, my buddy would have go to up and pick her up and bring her out to the car and then take off to a dance or whatever, I don't think her parents enjoyed Japanese Americans. But the rest of them, they were just very nice, the girls were. So yeah, I dated a few.

AC: So how did that make you feel when you had to go send your friend to go pick up your date?

JT: That was really different.

AC: How did you even figure that out?

JT: I don't know how we did. Her name was Shirley Siverson, I remember. She was a little short, cute little girl.

AC: And so you liked each other, and yet you knew that you couldn't go to the house.

JT: I couldn't go to the house.

AC: And your friend was okay with saying, "Fine, I'll go get her"?

JT: Yes. And then going back to the eighth grade there, and we lived on Laidlaw, and the grade school must have been maybe two miles away. So I used to ride my bike to school, or walk to school, and then pretty soon I got to meet this lady just about, oh, maybe two blocks from where we lived, and she had a daughter, and she would drive her daughter to school, so they let me ride with them. But otherwise, I had to walk. Then when I hit high school, yeah, I had to walk to, oh, god, about half a mile to a bus a stop to catch the bus to go to school. And then after practice, football, thumb your way, you could get to Cedar Mill, it was pretty easy. At those times, women picked you up, girls picked you up. And then from there, on West Union road, it was a little harder to get rides. And then the area that I lived on, Laidlaw, there was no cars that came there. So that was about a, three quarters of a mile walk to get to the house.

AC: So how long would it take you to get to school, and how long would it take you to get home from practice?

JT: Probably practice, probably forty-five minutes, hour, get out to Cedar Mill, Cedar Hills Boulevard, hitchhike. Then let's see, sophomore year, god, I think sophomore year, some senior would pick me up. Dick Hesselgesser would pick me up every morning to go to school.

AC: Was he a friend of yours?

JT: He was a friend, he was a senior, and he was a football player and so he would pick me up and take me to school. That's right. My sophomore year, Henry, my brother Henry, bought a house in Cedar Mills, so we had a house there.

AC: So tell me about that house.

JT: That house was a cold bugger. God almighty, in the wintertime, there was no heat that went up into the bedrooms. And I guess that was just an oil heating system, no, the rooms upstairs got heated. There were, what, four bedrooms upstairs, and a makeshift shower downstairs. That was kind of cold outside there, but we did have a shower. And we lived there for, yeah, my freshman, sophomore, junior, senior year, yeah. I mean, my sophomore, yeah.

AC: Did it have an indoor toilet?

JT: Oh, yeah, we had an indoor toilet. [Laughs]

AC: So it sounds like through high school you really bonded with the members of your sports teams. They really took care of you.

JT: Oh, yeah. In fact, Alton, just last Wednesday, last Wednesday, the guys that I ran around with, seven of us, we got together for lunch with wives. But of the seven, two are deceased now, but we still get together. The guys, maybe once every two months, we have lunch together, and then try to have the wives get together. So we've really been pretty closely bonded together.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

AC: So when did you graduate high school?

JT: 1951, May of 1951. And then I went to Lewis & Clark College on a scholarship.

AC: What kind of scholarship?

JT: You would ask. Football scholarship. And I played ball for Lewis & Clark for two years. I played behind a guy on our varsity, right halfback, and now, how would you pick? If a kid was six feet one, hundred ninety-five pounds, ran the hundred in ten seconds, and then over here is a five feet three, a hundred and thirty pounds. [Laughs] So I played behind Caley Cook, a nice man, nice guy. And that freshman year we had a championship team. We had a freshman left half, sophomore fullback, right half was a freshman, and then sophomore quarterback, it was all young guys. And we took the championship our freshman year, and then sophomore year we didn't do as well because that front line there was all veterans and big guys, and then they all graduated, and, of course, then we had your, it's the line that makes the back. Okay, then I said I better get out of school because I wasn't a student.

AC: Tell me about that.

JT: And I, geez, I was really a bad student, you know. Missed class, and god, I remember this one course, the guy said, the prof said, "I'll let you guys make it up. Now, you come to class at ten o'clock in the morning and we'll give you the test again," and then we didn't show up, that type of a student. So I withdrew from Lewis & Clark College without a flunk on my record, you know, I didn't want to have a flunk, so I withdrew. And since we, all four of the guys that we just kind of headed for bumsville, we put our name up on the draft list, you know, and by god, that was, December I quit school, February I was in the army during the Korean war.

AC: So what were you doing? Were you just not going to class and just partying?

JT: Yeah, partying and just having a good time and not studying, and it was dumb, just dumb. So I quit school and then went in the army, took my basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington, and those, the Korean War was going hot and heavy, and those guys that fooled around, goofed around, got in trouble during basic, went to Korea, and then I went to our, the good guys were the guys that, good soldiers, I guess you'd say, went to Europe. And we hit the port of Bremerhaven and then we trained down to a place called Zweibrucken. Zweibrucken was a military base that interviewed all the, about eighty-five percent of the troops that hit Germany, or Europe, came through this depot, and you would be assigned a cook, or be assigned an office job, or assigned driver. And at the time, I interviewed with a sergeant, and he said, "You know, Jim, we need another Asian on post." God, at that time, they had this allotment of... and so I interviewed with a captain from Lake Oswego, Oregon, and we talked about, I told him I went over to the lake when I was in high school and swam, and talked about Portland and Lake Oswego, and he said, "You have to take this job." And I said, "You betcha I'll take this job." So I went from a walking soldier to office, and I was in C&A, Classification and Assignment, and I handled the records with a bunch of guys in records. So when the troops came in to Zweibrucken and were interviewed, then say you went to Zweibrucken or Heidelberg, I would have to pull your records and make sure that it went with you to Heidelberg. So when the ships didn't come in, it was like a college campus, you just didn't work. And you fooled around and had all the time in the world to yourself, but when the ships did come in, you worked hard.

AC: So it was lucky that you were a "good soldier" at Fort Lewis.

JT: Yes. [Laughs] Speaking of "good soldiers," after basic training, they let you go out for furlough for a few days, and then I reported to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, the embarkation center for Europe. But I came in white cords and a white shirt, civilian clothes, and I got called before the commander of Camp Kilmer there, and he said, "You don't report to your next station in civilian clothes, you report in military clothes." KP for the rest of the time I was there, okay. So at six-thirty in the morning, you fall us out, and at that time I was a smoker, and it was dark six-thirty in the morning, it was dark, and I was in the back ranks there smoking, which you don't smoke in ranks. And he said, "Who's that smoking in the back ranks there?" And I thought, off limit, and of course the sparks flew, you know. So they picked me out right away. Alton, KP all the way over the Europe on the ship. I never learned. [Laughs]

AC: By KP you mean scrubbing pots?

JT: I scrubbed pots the whole time when I went across the ocean. Geez, it was hot.

AC: And the kitchen is not staying still.

JT: And the kitchen doesn't stay still, but I didn't get sick, thank goodness. But I remember scrubbing those old pots and pans. And then I'd go, stationed at Zweibrucken, and again I played sports again. But on the battalion level, and we played flag football, 'cause it was a small post. And played basketball and softball. And basketball we had a, I think we had the post champion. And then we entered a tournament in Stuttgart, and thank god we came back from, I think, fifteen point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat these MPs. Yeah, so I think we won one game and lost a game, and then we had to go get out. But it was a fun time. And then softball we were the base champs. We had an Afro-American pitcher, Bennie was his name, heck of a, fast. So when I played second base, I was over mostly almost by the first baseman, because they never get around you. So that was my duty there in Zweibrucken, and my section chief said, "Jim, doesn't that bother your conscience that you take off for practice and do that? And he said, I told him, no, it doesn't bother me at all. So I would get off work to go practice basketball, football, softball. And, Alton, those fellows that I met, you know, that I bonded with over there, I still, we still keep in contact. Let's see, how many have... two have passed away. But god, one became a lawyer, one became a dentist, one became a professor at the University of Minnesota, one became a CPA in Michigan. Let's see, what else? Oh, then one became a basketball coach, athletic director, and then he was inducted into the athletic director's hall of fame for the state of Illinois. And then Fernley was, owned a service station garage. Geez, they really amounted to something.

AC: What about the four guys, the others, there were four of you who joined up the army originally? What happened to the other three guys?

JT: The other three guys, this guy named Dick Wise said, "Jim, let's go do airborne, parachute." Says, "We'll get to stay in the States longer." And I said, "No way am I jumping out of airplanes. I'll take my chances in Korea." Ed Zirflew, we had a company party for graduation, we had a company party, chick and a beer, and we ended up getting a case of beer out of the PX, and then we had a, somebody had a car and we went into some woodsy area. Zirflew was climbing a tree and he fell out of the tree and broke both wrists. He was Tarzan. And the other guy, he passed away early. Then Ed ended up in... I can't remember the name of the camp, in California as a clerk, company clerk. But Wise would write to me every now and then, he'd say, "Here I am up in this airplane. What in the hell am I doing up here?" [Laughs]

AC: Was he posted to Korea?

JT: No, he stayed right there. He was a tough bugger, and he was not that big. He was probably about 5'7", probably 165, but he played army ball with, geez, some of the big guys. He was a tough one, he really was very good. He matured after high school. He was a young senior.

AC: Whatever happened to the guy who broke his wrists?

JT: He became a schoolteacher and retired as a schoolteacher. He's the one that just passed away.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

AC: So after Zweibrucken, and you've got this wonderful job keeping paperwork going, what happened after that? Did your term, did your enlistment end while you were stationed there?

JT: Well, yeah. Then they released me and I came back in February of 1955, I was discharged. I had to stay one day over my enlistment period because it was a Sunday that we would have got released. And then I came back and I spent that summer helping my brothers, and then I enrolled at Oregon State College. At that time it was named Oregon State College. And I studied my butt off because I didn't know if I had the ability to do what I wanted to do, medicine or dentistry. And I was studying morning, noon and night. Then I'd get tired and I'd go down to the Peacock Tavern, have a few beers, and then go back and study. I got my degree from Oregon State in science, Bachelor of Science, and was accepted to OSU dental school in 1958.

AC: Did you play any sports while you were in college, Oregon State?

JT: No, no, geez, I was too small. [Laughs] I did, after high school, I did go down, somebody took me down to University of Oregon and Oregon State to interview, and this guy was named Jim Aiken. He said, "Jim," he said, "you may become the best running back going, but they'll kill you eventually," which I took very seriously. Because I was just, what, 5'3", about 130, you know.

AC: So you got accepted to the school of dentistry.

JT: Yes.

AC: What made you decide you wanted to become a dentist?

JT: You know when your mother says, "Jimmy, be a doctor, be a doctor, be a doctor." I thought I would like to be either a medicine or dentistry, and then I decided, I studied with a bunch of guys that were going into medicine, and I decided that I didn't want to have a beeper, deal with life or death. I thought dentistry would be more... and it was the right fit. I enjoyed dentistry. I started practice in '63, and practiced for thirty-two years and enjoyed it. Going through dental school, I met my future wife at Oregon State, we got married between my freshman and sophomore year in dental school. She had to do summer school, and then student teach in the fall, and then she took a job with, substituting, and then she had a substituting job at Ainsworth grade school on Vista Avenue, and then that teacher became pregnant and so Amy spent two months there at Ainsworth grade school, which was great because we'd come up out of, across Barber Boulevard, and she would go to dental school and she'd be off, and then she'd go to Ainsworth, which was up farther yet. And then when she'd be done, she'd come down at five o'clock, pick me up, and then we'd go home. It was kind of a life when you didn't know anybody else, you know. So then she taught for three years, and then the baby came in 1963. And thank god she taught school the first year I was in practice, because it would have a cold winter.

When I was going through dental school, I worked for the Beaverton School District as a maintenance man. I learned a lot putting in windows, building fences, building walls. But it was one of the best things I ever did. I met a lot of schoolteachers, office personnel, principals, superintendents, and that really helped me get started in practice, because a lot of those people came to me as a dentist. And I'll never forget the incident, after I had graduated, I didn't want to work for somebody else, I was waiting for the building to be built, and I was in the superintendent's office painting his room. And Mr. Hassel, who was a good friend of mine, I can't remember the name of the superintendent, said, "Dr. such and such, I'd like you meet Dr. Tsugawa." I was up on a ladder painting. [Laughs] But he came to me as a patient, but I don't remember his name. But that's really, I got my practice off going pretty good with the people.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

AC: Let me back you up. How did you meet your wife? You said you met her at Oregon State, what was the first time you saw her?

JT: Okay, there was a kid from, Don Kimura and I were walking on the sidewalk at Oregon State, and these two gals were walking the other way. And I said, "Don, who is that cute lady over there?" And he said, "Her name is Amy Goda." So at Oregon State they had what they called a Fussers Guide. Fussers Guide was, every student's name was listed and a phone number. So I, that night I called her and I said, "You don't know me from the man in the moon, but would you like to go out for coffee?" And you know what she said? She said, "I'm sorry, but I don't go out on the weeknights. I study." That was a bunch of bull. So she got me for dinner that following Saturday. She said, "What am I going to hold out for just coffee? I wanted dinner." [Laughs] That's how we met.

AC: So where'd you take her?

JT: It was China... it was a Chinese restaurant there, and I took her to Chinese food. And that's how our romance started. [Laughs] So I graduated from Oregon State in '58 and she graduated in 1960.

AC: So she was down in Corvallis for two years and you were up in Portland, right, going to dental school?

JT: Let's see. Yeah, for a while there, and then between my freshman and sophomore year we got married. She had that term of summer school and term of student teaching.

AC: So how did that work going back and forth between Portland and Corvallis?

JT: It was tiring. [Laughs] Sleepy. Dangerous, I thought, holy cripe, sometimes I think there's just a wall like this, and I'd have to pull over and go to sleep. But it was worth it.

AC: So in '60 -- after you, she was student teaching, and you were just opening, you just graduated, you were just opening your practice, she was her last year of student teaching --

JT: No, no.

AC: So she was actually teaching, she got a job?

JT: Oh, yeah, she was teaching at Ainsworth grade school.

AC: And then your first child was born. Tell me about that.

JT: Well, it was a wonderful birth, Lisa, 1963 I think, yeah. And she was... now, see, Amy graduated Oregon State, I graduated Oregon State, Lisa graduated Oregon State. And our two grandchildren were at the University of Oregon, figured that, well, her dad is a University of Oregon grad. But I couldn't get 'em interested in dentistry, medicine, and Oregon State.

AC: So Lisa was born in '63.

JT: '63.

AC: Where were you living at the time?

JT: In a place called, in Beaverton, Baker Street. Before then we were in an apartment complex called Why Worry Lane, really. And then we bought a house, we bought a house, I was in practice, we bought a house on Baker Street in Beaverton.

AC: Now did your wife work with you at the time, or she was being a teacher?

JT: She taught up until the time that Lisa was born, and that was it. I don't know why I didn't make her go back to work. [Laughs]

AC: So you bought a place on Baker Street.

JT: Yes.

AC: When did you buy your current house?

JT: 1968, we moved out into the country. West Union Road in the Bethany area, and little red house on two acres. And had a little horse and little barn, it was a cute place. And then in 1972 we built a new home on Burton Street, which was about two miles closer to town. Best thing we ever did, because just two miles, and we always had to transport Lisa to friends', bring friends in, so this house that we built on Burton Street that she could walk to school, bring kids home, worked out great. And a very strategic spot, now that I think about it, because the hospital is just three and a half miles, physician is three miles, grocery stores are just a mile away, and little shops are just a mile away. Costco was three and a half miles away, so it was a perfect place.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

AC: So now looking back upon it, you practiced dentistry for thirty-two years? And so now you're retired. Looking back upon your entire life, is there any sense of anything about how your wartime experience affected your sense of being a Japanese American at all?

JT: No.

AC: And what about your older siblings? Did they talk about that experience at all, what happened to them?

JT: Not really. I think George goes out, my brother George up in Woodland, Washington. I think he goes and talks to Woodland High School about his experience in the intern camp.

AC: Do you know what he says?

JT: No.

AC: What about, do you think that whole experience, the time you spent in Minidoka, did it have any effect upon you in your life?

JT: No, I don't think so.

AC: But now, I guess in our conversation, you've made reference to at the time you didn't know this, but now you've done more research and now you understand a little bit more. What do you think, now that you, that perspective of having been a child when all this was going on, and done research as an adult looking back, what do you think, did you feel that you learned anything about that whole experience about being a Japanese American during World War II?

JT: I don't think so. I think I just am a very lucky individual, ran across people that had no prejudice against me, and I just feel like we fit in to the community. And people have accepted Amy and I and have wonderful friends. And I think sometimes that... no, I don't know. I don't know.

AC: No, I guess having, we just reviewed your entire life, if there's something that you wanted to say to pass on to your grandkids, what would that be?

JT: Well, let's see. I would say work hard, study hard, 'cause you can attain anything you really want if you want it bad enough. That we live in a great nation, and I feel like I'm the luckiest guy in the world, I do. I just, everything I felt, I'm lucky.

AC: What's the most important thing in life to you?

JT: Most important thing in life is for our families to stay healthy. That's a big factor, is health, especially when I get to my age. I'm an old farmer now. [Laughs]

AC: How old are you now?

JT: Eighty-one. I don't feel eighty-one, still feel like a kid.

AC: And I guess one last question. If your mom was still alive today and she just listened to this whole interview, what do you think she'd say?

JT: I think she's day, "Jimmy, I'm so proud of you," and I think she would be so happy with the grandkids and our family. But I'm sure she'd say, "Oh, Jimmy, you became a doctor." [Laughs]

AC: Thank you very much.

JT: I enjoyed it very much, and I hope we covered everything that we were supposed to cover.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2013 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

[Narrator note]

My daughter, Lisa, scolded me and said that the following information should have been in the transcript, so here we go.

I was a stutterer in the seventh grade at Boise Junior High School, hung up on the "th" sound. So if a sentenece began with TH, I was a goner. I asked my teacher Mrs. Radford to never ask me to get up and speak in class. Bless her heart, she never asked me to speak. In 1947 I entered Beaverton Hi School as a freshman and was elected class president. Somehow I overcame my stuttering problems as I had to get up occasionally to speak in front of the study body. I was one happy boy.

I made the varsity baseball team as a freshman, lettered three years as I got tired of after school practice so I quit my junior year but played my senior year.

I made the varsity football team as a freshman -- four year letterman. I played 3 years varsity basketball. I was selected to the TYV League Football All Star team as a junior. I made the All Star football team (Captain) and I led the league in scoring my senior year. I made the All State in football my senior year.

In 1951 I was selected to play in the Shrine game. It pitted the Portland All Stars against all the schools outside of the city of Portland. The proceeds from the game went to the Shriners Hospital. It was a great honor to be selected to play in this game. If iI remember correctly there were 21,000 fans -- we (state) won 21-13.

In my senior year I was elected student body president.

I feel like I was one lucky guy.

--Jim Tsugawa