Densho Digital Archive
Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection
Title: Taylor Tomita Interview
Narrator: Taylor Tomita
Interviewer: Linda Tamura
Location: Hood River, Oregon
Date: April 18, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-ttaylor-01

<Begin Segment 1>

LT: Okay. So, Taylor, as I said, we'll begin by simply asking you questions about you and your family and their immigration to the United States, and then your early childhood and the events before World War II, then the war, and camp, your military service, and then returning to Hood River and how you resettled in your later life in Hood River, okay? And it occurs to me that while you are ninety-two, your father was ninety-five when I interviewed him...

TT: Is that right?

LT: 1985. So you're actually younger than your father was when we spoke. So, great. So, Taylor, when were you born and where were you born?

TT: February 17, 1922, in Odell.

LT: Okay. And Odell is part of what community?

TT: Hood River.

LT: Okay. What can you tell me about Odell?

TT: Well, I don't remember too much about where I was born. I hardly remember anything about when I was young. Two or three or four, I don't remember hardly anything, and then we moved to a place called Mt. Hood, no, Middle Valley, and my dad raised strawberries there. And I think we stayed there, and I went to grade school in this Middle Valley. It was a two-room school. Just had two teachers. I went there 'til sixth grade, and then the next year they closed that down and they bused us to Mount Hood grade school, so I went there for one year. And then my dad sold the place, so before we bought that place we live now, and then he worked for Kiyokawas for a year or so. So I went to Dee grade school in my eighth grade, eighth grade, and started my freshman year in Hood River junior high. In the meantime, we moved to, bought this place. I was supposed to go to Odell, but I drove my car down to, partway, the bus came by there, it used to be Loggers Lodge, and we used to park our car there and catch the bus and go, my sister and I, to Hood River. I was a freshman and she was a sophomore, so finished out the school that way. And then the next year, sophomore year, I started Odell, and so I graduated from Odell in 1940.

LT: Thank you for summarizing your life in a few minutes. That's really a helpful overview of what you've done. Now what I'd like to do is ask you more questions about details about your life from your early childhood. And just to confirm, your full name at your birth was?

TT: Taylor Tomita, yeah.

LT: Okay. Was there any significance to your name?

TT: No, not that I know of. I don't know where he picked up that name.

LT: So your dad named you?

TT: Yeah, my dad did.

LT: And some Nisei had Japanese names as well.

TT: Yeah. I just didn't have one.

LT: Okay. Well, can you tell us your father's name and where he was born?

TT: It was Chiho Tomita, and he was born in Japan, Fukushima.

LT: Okay. And I believe he was born on March 2, 1890.

TT: Yeah.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

LT: So what did your father's family do in Fukushima?

TT: I really didn't know, but I think he told me that he raised silkworm or something like that one time, but that's about all I know about what he did over there.

LT: Okay. So your father didn't talk a lot about his early life?

TT: No.

LT: Do you know how your father decided to come to America?

TT: I really don't know. I guess he was one of the older sons, so those days they, quite a few used to come. I guess they say America was a good place to make money, and so they, lot of them came over. My dad, his dad came with him the first time, and then I don't know how long he stayed, but then he went back to Japan and my dad just stayed. And that's all I remember.

LT: You said your father was the eldest. Do you know how many brothers and sisters he had?

TT: No, I really don't know. I never heard about it, and I never asked about it, how many brother and sister he had. All I know is that one brother is my uncle, he lives in Portland, I mean, he did live in Portland. He's dead now. So I don't know if they came together or what, but then he was in Portland.

LT: Yes, well, there were many elder sons like your father who came to the United States to earn money.

TT: Yeah.

LT: Okay. When your father came to America, he first lived in Portland. Do you have information about what he did in Portland?

TT: He told me he was a houseboy or something, some family, I think it was the Meier family or something, of the Meier & Frank's. He was the houseboy there. Must have stayed there about, I don't know how long, but then a year or so, and then they came to Hood River.

LT: Yes, and that was significant because the Meier family, who were the founders of the Meier & Frank department store, and Julius Meier became Oregon's governor in the early 1930s, so, yes. Yes, your father worked as a houseboy in Portland, and then eventually decided to come to Hood River. Do you know why?

TT: I think he was influenced by Mr. Yasui. He knew Mr. Yasui pretty good, I guess, so he told my dad he should come to Hood River, so he came to Hood River and started farming.

LT: Okay, and who was Mr. Yasui?

TT: Hmm?

LT: Who was Mr. Yasui?

TT: Well, he owned a store in Hood River, and he was a pretty well-known guy. And then I think he helped a lot of Japanese guys buy land. I think he put up the money and they, then they couldn't afford it, so he had quite a bit of money, I guess. And he used to And he used to buy land and go in partnership with some of them, not too many, but he kind of worked with a real estate guy. So that way he was able to tell what land was for sale and stuff, and tell them what was for sale, and then he'd buy it, I mean, they'd buy it. Well, some of the... he went in partnership to help out, get started, I guess. And then later on, most of those, they bought it back out, and then they were on their own.

LT: And this was Masuo Yasui?

TT: Yeah.

LT: Who owned the Yasui store downtown, and then helped other Issei to purchase property so they could become farmers in the Hood River area. Okay, thank you. What was your mother's name and where was she from?

TT: Matsuyo, she was from Fukushima, too, I think.

LT: And what do you know about her family?

TT: All I know is that her dad was a Buddhist minister or something like that, I think. I heard that. That's about all I know.

LT: Well, how did your mother come to the United States?

TT: Well, I don't know if they... more or less a "picture bride," I guess. Somebody in Japan knew both of 'em, so they, I guess they fixed 'em up. [Laughs]

LT: Did your father ever tell you about the choices that he made and how your mother became the one who was selected as his bride?

TT: No, he never did tell me that, but I think must have sent a picture of it or something. Lot of them had "picture brides," so that's all I ever heard.

LT: When I spoke with your father, he did say that he turned down the first two photos, and he chose the third one. And he said, "The best for me." So that was interesting. And I understood that they met in Seattle in May of 1918.

TT: Oh, is that right?

LT: And then came to Hood River. So where did they live and what kind of work did they do in Odell in Hood River?

TT: I think he just worked around the, for different farmers. He didn't buy land right away. And then later on, they couldn't buy land anyway. I think it was 1924 or something, he couldn't buy land. So a lot of them, when they did, later on when they bought land, they bought it in their children's name if they were twenty-one, they used to buy it in their children's name, and they used to farm that way.

LT: And so was the property that your father purchased after 1923 in your name or your sister's name?

TT: It was in my sister's name at first, and then when I got twenty-one, they transferred it to my name. That's how I got it.

LT: Okay. And what did your mother and your father raise on their property?

TT: Oh, after I bought it? It was pear orchard. It is a small pear orchard, I think it's only about twelve acres. And later on, when I started farming, then I started buying more land, because twelve acres is too small to make a living on, so I had to buy more land. Ended up a neighbor sold out, so I bought his land, his place and ended up about forty-five acres, somewhere in there.

LT: Okay, well, that's a considerable change from twelve acres to forty-five acres. Let's go back to the early years when your father and your mother had the property. What do you remember as a kid about living on a farm and raising pears?

TT: Well, when we bought the farm, I was high school age then, but before that, he rented a place and raised strawberries when I was in grade school. That was when I went to Middle Valley school, he rented that and raised strawberries there, renting it from somebody. And I think we raised strawberries 'til about 1930... let's see, 1935 or '6.

LT: Okay, okay.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

LT: And did you help out as a kid on your father's strawberry farm?

TT: Yeah. After school I used to come and help out, and then in the summertime, used to help out all summer long.

LT: And what kinds of jobs did you have on this, in the strawberry field after school?

TT: Well, when the strawberry was ripe, we used to pick 'em, before they were ripe berries, hoeing the strawberry, hoeing the weed. And the other thing that they did, I remember they used to get weevils or something, and used to put some kind of bait in the strawberry, at the crown of the strawberry plant to kill the weevils.

LT: What do you mean by crowning the strawberry plant?

TT: No, I mean the plants are up like this, and they used to put 'em in the middle of it, you know, where all the leaves come out, in the middle there, just... it looked like a dried apple or something, must have had some kind of poison or something in there, so we used to put a little bit of that in each strawberry plant. That and later on, after berry is harvested, they used to, what you call they used to top, cut off all the leaves or whatever you call it. And I don't know why they did that, they used to cut 'em all off and put 'em in a row. After, they'd just let it sit there and rake it into the middle of the row. Then late in August, after it all dried up, we used to go burn it. Usually did it at nighttime.

LT: And why was that?

TT: I don't know. I guess they... I guess they just had to get rid of it all, all that stuff, the leaves, all that stuff, I don't know. Then I think later on they probably didn't do that anymore. Some of 'em used to have a machine that kind of just, when it pulled over the top of the plants and mulch all the leaves, so I don't think they used to cut 'em by hand, each plant by hand. So I remember doing that.

LT: And as a kid, you and your brother and sister helped to do that work on the strawberry fields?

TT: Yeah. Well, my sisters, they didn't hardly do anything, but I was about the only one, and my brother was too young. So I don't remember them working.

LT: Well, what did you think as a kid, you were the eldest son and the second oldest of four children in your family. What was it like to work so long on your family's farm?

TT: Well, I don't know. Maybe it was expected of us to help out. [Laughs] We did everything we could to help out. I didn't think much about it, just another thing to do.

LT: Okay. Well, let me go back and ask about your brothers and your sisters, because there were five children in all. Is that correct?

TT: Uh-huh.

LT: Okay. And when you were children at home, what language did you speak?

TT: Well, we must have, we must have spoke Japanese, and our mother, that's all she, she didn't know English. I guess we just learned what she taught us, I don't know. Because I know we didn't speak Japanese among our kids, I mean, the kids didn't speak Japanese to each other. I don't remember ever speaking Japanese to my sister. So I don't know how we got along. [Laughs]

LT: So when you went to school in first grade, what language did you speak?

TT: Well, it wasn't Japanese.

LT: Okay, so where did you learn English if your mother and your father spoke Japanese? How did you learn English?

TT: I don't know. It must have been from playing with my friends. I used to play with this guy all the time, and maybe I learned from him, or my older sister maybe learned it before I did, so might have learned it that way. But I just can't... I don't know how we ever started speaking English. Must have been grade school.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

LT: Okay. So when you went to school, you started at Middle Valley school. What did you think of school?

TT: Well, I don't remember thinking one way or the other, just what everybody else did, I guess, you went to school.

LT: Can you tell me about your school?

TT: Well, all I know is that it was divided into, the first four grade was one teacher, and then the other four grades were another teacher, and two-room school. So I remember must have learned how to read by, they used to have a big chart they used to put up, and then she'd teach us how to read that, I guess. So learned the English then, taught me how to read. But then I must have known a little bit before that, because I used to play with this kid all the time. I must have spoke English to him. So it's hard to say when you start learning that English.

LT: So it sounds like you grew up bilingual, speaking Japanese and English.

TT: But I spoke Japanese only to my mother or father, because they didn't speak it to each other.

LT: Well, when you went to Middle Valley school, were there other Japanese students?

TT: No, we were the only ones.

LT: So what was it like to go to a school where you were the only Japanese American students?

TT: Well, I didn't think too much about it, I just figured that's the way it was, so just had more white friends, I guess.

LT: Did anyone say anything or do anything or view you as different?

TT: No, I never remember anything like that. Because, well, they were just another kid, I guess, so nobody said anything or anything like that. Never heard anything like that.

LT: Okay. At lunchtime, did you eat lunch at school? Did you take your lunch?

TT: Yeah, we used to take a lunch. What I remember is that there's two other kids that used to eat lunch together, and we used to exchange sandwiches. I guess I always took a bologna sandwich, and this other kid, he always had, they had a lot of sheep, so he had, his mother made him mutton sandwich. And then this other kid, he used to always bring roast beef sandwich, and we used to always change sandwiches. Get tired of our own, I guess. And it was rare for them, too, so I guess they liked it, too.

LT: And what about the bologna that you took?

TT: It was just a piece of bologna, I don't know if she put butter on there or what, but then sliced bologna. Used to buy those big bolognas, just slice that. That and then probably a peanut butter and jam sandwich. We used to eat quite a bit for a little kid, two sandwiches. Because nowadays I only eat one sandwich. [Laughs]

LT: Did you ever take a rice ball or any Japanese food?

TT: No, I never did.

LT: Okay. Well, when you were a kid, you actually went to a number of different schools, because your family moved. I believe your father was working for different farmers?

TT: Well, no, we weren't hardly going to school then, yet, when he was working for different hakujin farmers. But, well, went to three grade schools. That one... well, the only reason we went to the second one was that the other school closed down, so they just bused it, so went there. And then I went, when my dad sold the place, I mean, quit farming and went, before he bought, worked for Kiyokawa for a year or two, so I went to Dee grade school for one year. And then the second year I guess I was in, went to Hood River junior high, and that's when we bought the (land) in Odell, so moved to Odell the next year.

LT: What was it like to go to different schools?

TT: Well, that first one was just the, all of us went together from our school to that school by bus just that one year. But when we went to Dee, that's the first time we went to school with the Japanese kids. There was quite a few Japanese kids in Dee, Dee grade school. So that one year, and then went to junior high, and that was mostly white kids. So it was just another school year for me.

LT: Was it different for you to go to a school with many other Nisei Japanese American students as opposed to being the only Nisei at school?

TT: No, I didn't feel any different. Didn't bother me or anything like that. I don't remember thinking anything about that.

LT: Okay. Well, I think you mentioned that your father bought his own farm in 1937.

TT: Yeah.

LT: So how was it to have your own farm, to work on your own pear farm?

TT: Well, actually, the two years we were in Dee I didn't work because I was in school, and my dad was the only one that worked for Kiyokawa orchard. And actually it was the first time we started working on your own farm, it was my dad, he bought it, so I was just helping out at first, just liked helping out.

LT: Your father had mentioned that on weekends he and the family worked inside the orchard and not by the road?

TT: No, I don't remember anything like that.

LT: Okay. When you think about your mother, how would you... what was she like?

TT: Well, she's pretty quiet, and I don't know what else to say. Probably was easier to get along with. I mean, it was easy to get along with Dad, too, but that's all I remember. She wasn't very outspoken or anything.

LT: And what about your father? How would you describe him? What was he like?

TT: He liked to go out quite a bit, because he was pretty active in the Issei crowd. He's kind of more or less easygoing, I'd say easy to get along with.

LT: Okay.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

LT: As a kid, when there was something that you or your brothers or your sisters wanted to have, how did your family respond to that?

TT: Well, they treated us pretty good. I don't remember ever arguing with him or anything like that.

LT: Okay. When your friends had toys or bicycles and you wanted them, what happened in your family?

TT: Well, my dad was pretty good at that. Maybe it's because I used to help out a lot on the farm, but he used to... he did buy me a bicycle. And I guess I used to keep telling him I wanted a bicycle or something, and eventually he bought me one. He treated me pretty good, I guess.

LT: Okay, it sounds like you worked hard on the farm and you were able to do that.

TT: Yeah, pretty hard.

LT: Okay. What kind of bicycle was it, and where did you buy it? How did you use it?

TT: Well, there wasn't too many bicycles, those days. So when he decided to buy me one, we went to Portland to buy it at Sears-Roebuck. And it was in a crate. Most of it, parts of it you had to put it together, well, just the handlebar and the pedal part, the rest was all ready. And brought it home on the side of the car, had the running board, and brought it home. There wasn't too many other kids with bicycle those days. All I remember is this one kid that I used to play with, he's a couple year younger than me. Then this one guy, kid was my age, and after I bought my bicycle, his dad bought him a bicycle. So we were the only two in the bicycle in that grade school. And we'd ride it to school. So that's about it.

LT: Okay. There's a saying in Japan, kodomo no tame ni.

TT: Huh?

LT: There's a saying in Japan, kodomo no tame ni.

TT: Yeah.

LT: Did you see that at all in the way that you were raised, that parents sacrificed for their children?

TT: I didn't see it at that time, but later on, kind of realized that. Because he'd buy me that thing we probably really couldn't afford, but then he eventually bought it for me.

LT: Were there any other ways that your mother and your father bought things for you that perhaps they couldn't afford but they did so because you were their kids and you worked?

TT: Well, the only thing I remember, I don't know why I wanted a violin, I guess I saw somebody playing a violin, and I thought that was pretty cool. So I wanted that, and so I kind of kept telling him I want a violin, and he finally bought me one. Then I remember he bought me a ski one time, one year, because I went skiing quite a bit on the neighbor hillside, I used to go there by myself and just ski down that hill there. So he bought me a ski. That was about it, I guess.

LT: Thank you.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

LT: Did you and your family participate in Japanese events with other Issei and Nisei in Odell and in the Hood River area?

TT: Well, in Hood River, the Isseis used to have some kind of program or something, and I remember going to those. Well, all the Niseis were there. We were all young kids, but we used to go there, I remember.

LT: And where was this held?

TT: In the Japanese Hall in Hood River.

LT: Can you tell us about that?

TT: Huh?

LT: Can you tell us about the Japanese Community Hall in Hood River?

TT: Well, I don't know. They used to have something once in a while and they all gathered from around the valley. Except Dee and Parkdale, they were kind of more or less on their own. They probably had a hall of their own, so they didn't come to a lot of the gathering unless it was the whole valley. But then most of the time it was just the Hood River (...) area.

LT: Can you describe one event that was held at the Japanese Community Hall, what it was like, and what you did?

TT: I really don't remember too much. All I remember is one time they had something like a carnival there, one year. They used to have some kind of booth. This was mostly Nisei then. Well, Issei, too, because, I don't know what they had at the booth, I can't remember now. But I know one time on Halloween they used to have a haunted house. Somebody built somewhere where we kind of walked through and it was kind of supposed to scare us, I guess. Other than that, they must have had some kind of game or something that you won prizes or something, because we needed five or ten cents to do something, I don't remember what it was, or buy something to eat or something. But the Isseis used to have some kind of program. I can't remember exactly what it was, they had some kind of programs, something like a talent show or something, had their kids do some talent, they used to have that kind of program. I remember going once. Sing or some, some of the girls would sing or something, and some of them play some instruments or something like that, in a talent show, dance or something.

LT: Did you ever play your violin?

TT: No, I never did. [Laughs]

LT: Well, I know that you and your family also got together with others from the Fukushima area, which is where your mother and father were from. Can you talk about how it was important to meet with others from the same prefecture, and the kinds of things that you did together?

TT: Well, only time I remember is like New Year's or something, they have a New Year party and they just invite their friends. And used to go somewhere, to somebody's house. Other than that, I don't... just have a feast, I guess, that's about all I can remember.

LT: What kinds of foods did you eat?

TT: Well, I ate a lot of Japanese food, but I don't remember exactly what it was. Must have had sushi and stuff like that.

LT: So what was it about families who came from the same prefecture or ken?

TT: I don't know. They seemed to be closer, or I guess most people, when they get in a crowd, if it's your own kind, you kind of get a little, feel a little closer to them. I guess that's about it.

LT: Okay. Well, one family member, the Hishinuma family, recalled that they often came to your home to meet with your family, and remembered in particular having tea and tsukemono that your mother had made. Can you talk about the tsukemono and how your mother prepared it and what it was?

TT: I didn't know it was anything special, but she must have thought it was pretty good, but I didn't think anything about it, just another everyday food.

LT: So what is tsukemono and how did your mother prepare it?

TT: Just salted vegetables, mainly, like nappa or something, cabbage or nappa or something. They just put it in a barrel and put salt on there and then just put weight on there and press it together, I guess, and all the juice comes out.

LT: What kind of weight was used?

TT: We used to use a big rock, find a big rock and maybe weight about five, ten pounds, and just put it on top of there, or anything heavy.

LT: And then where did you put this, and how long did it take before you could eat it?

TT: Well, I really don't know how long it takes, but maybe weeks or a month, I don't know. But I don't know, we used to just keep it downstairs in the basement. But I didn't think it was anything special. It was just something that you ate, not a lot, but a little bit at a time.

LT: So it sounds as if tsukemono, the Japanese pickle, and other Japanese foods were fairly common in your home.

TT: Yeah.

LT: Okay. So at home your parents spoke Japanese, you ate Japanese food. When you went to school, you spoke English, and you had friends who were both white and Japanese American. So part of you was learning Japanese culture, and part of you was learning American culture. How did you balance both sides?

TT: Well, I think I didn't learn too many Japanese culture, more English culture, because didn't know hardly anything about Japan or anything like that. So mostly English culture.

LT: So your father liked to sing Japanese songs. Did he sing at home, did he teach you songs?

TT: No, he didn't. He just... he didn't sing it at home either, he'd just, well, get-togethers or something, he'd sing. I don't know if he volunteered. They all know he did it, so they probably asked him to sing or something.

LT: So did you sing?

TT: Huh?

LT: Did you sing?

TT: No, I don't.

LT: Okay.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

LT: Let's talk about December 7, 1941. You were nineteen years old. Where were you and how did you learn about Pearl Harbor?

TT: Well, it happened that Sunday morning we were... Niseis were going to put on a Christmas play program, and they wanted us to do some kind of talent. So all I remember is we were supposed to... guys were supposed to dance like a can-can girl, I guess, that was supposed to be in the program. And I don't know what other things, some people probably played instruments and sang or something. That's when we were practicing for Christmas person's program and that's when we heard about it.

LT: Can you tell me a little bit about that can-can dance, what you were wearing and how you were performing?

TT: Well, we were just wearing ordinary clothes because it was just practice. I don't know if they had a dress for us or what, but then maybe the girls had a dress for us, I don't know. All I remember is a bunch of us guys, about six of us or so, mainly from Odell area, and we were supposed to have practice for that part of the program.

LT: And then you learned about the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

TT: Yeah. In fact, Mr. Yasui must have heard it on the radio or something, and he came over and told us. I think he must have knew we were practicing. Anyway, I guess he said, "Maybe we should all go home," or something, I don't know. That was the end of it anyway.

LT: Do you remember what he said and how he said it?

TT: No, he didn't say it to me, so I didn't know.

LT: Okay. When you learned the news about Japan bombing Pearl Harbor, what was your thought?

TT: You know, I really don't... can't think of what I thought those days, at that time. I didn't think it was good, probably, but then...

LT: Okay. What happened afterward? What did your family do?

TT: Well, the sheriff from Hood River told us what to do and all that at first, and then told us what we're supposed to do or what not to do. And they put a curfew on us, an eight o'clock curfew.

LT: Can you talk about that a little bit?

TT: Well, a night we had to be at home by eight o'clock. So if you went anywhere, you had to rush home before eight o'clock because of the curfew. I don't remember even going to Hood River or town. But then they had, they put out a poster, and it had on there what to do and what not to do.

LT: Do you remember anything about that poster or about what you could or could not do?

TT: Well, mainly the Isseis, I guess, they said, "Don't speak Japanese to each other," and then, "Don't bow," and stuff like that. I really don't know what else. Three or four years ago I had that poster, but I threw it away. I should have kept it, come to think of it now. But I don't know if the Legacy Center has that poster or not. Do they have it? You don't know.

LT: Was the poster from the government?

TT: No, it's from Hood River.

LT: Okay, from the Hood River Japanese American community?

TT: No, it's from the hakujin, you know, the mayor or whoever is the head of it. They must have made a poster of how to act and what to do and what not to do and all that stuff.

LT: And they were specifically telling Issei not to bow and not to speak the Japanese language?

TT: Yeah. Mainly them, because we, as kids, didn't bow. We didn't bow or anything, speak Japanese to each other anyway. And probably had the curfew written on there and all that stuff. There's some stuff I can't remember what we found there.

LT: Well, once that poster came out, how did life change for you and your family?

TT: Well, didn't hardly change anything except the curfew part did, probably, had to be home at eight. The other stuff didn't bother us because we didn't do it anyway.

LT: Now you were nineteen, so you had graduated from high school. So you were working on the farm with your family.

TT: Yeah, and then I was working out that year, '41, in the summer I was working for Ray Yasui and his farm. And ours was a small farm, so they had enough work for me, so all summer I worked for him.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

LT: And after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, did someone come to your home to search it?

TT: Yeah, the FBI, the sheriff brought the FBI with him, and they searched everybody's home.

LT: Were you at home when they came?

TT: Yeah, I was home.

LT: What do you remember about that search and about the people who came?

TT: Well, I only remember that the sheriff and the FBI guys, all I was in, sitting on the sofa, and they went in the closet, wherever we had stuff stored, they went through there looking for things. What were they looking for? Maps or... can't remember what they were looking for. Cameras, radios, let's see, what else was there? Anything Japanese. So we knew they were coming, so most of the family got... I think most of them, they just got rid of them, if they had a flag or something like that, or a map of the world. I remember even the Japanese doll, they threw it, got rid of it.

LT: Your family?

TT: Yeah. Anything Japanese. And then guns, dynamite, and shells, because some of them got caught on that dynamite, because most of the famers, they bought dynamite to blow up the stumps in the orchards. So if they get rid of it or couldn't find it or something, then if they found it, I think some of them got pulled in for that.

LT: It must have been difficult for your parents to get rid of Japanese items that they owned.

TT: Yeah, I guess so, but then, I don't know... when a higher up like that comes around, you're kind of scared a little bit, too. So instead of being caught and then being taken into camp, well, those guys that are caught, they were the first one to go to small camp, like I think Missoula, Montana, had a camp where the Isseis were put in, like Mr. Yasui and Mr. Watanabe and Mr. Akiyama, I think, they were called in.

LT: How did your family dispose of Japanese items?

TT: They must have burned it, I guess, I don't remember. But I know I had... when a boy, in Japan, when a boy was born, they used to buy a samurai doll. They used to buy a gift when your boy was born, I guess. That was, I guess, a Japanese custom. I remember I had one, but I don't know what happened to it, must have burned it. Because I don't remember finding it anymore, so, yeah, they must have burned it.

LT: When the FBI and the sheriff came, did they take any items from your home?

TT: No, they didn't. Not from ours, because we didn't have anything that, it was all destroyed by then, so they didn't find anything in there.

LT: Okay.

TT: Unless it was a radio or a camera, I don't remember. But like radio and camera, you're supposed to turn that in to Hood River somewhere, anyway. But if they found it, they'd probably taken it.

LT: After the FBI and the sheriff left, what did you think? What did you and your family say and do?

TT: I don't remember anything about that. I was really relieved that they left, and other than that, we didn't stop and talk about it or anything. I might have said a few words, but, I mean, we didn't have no get-together, meeting or anything like that.

LT: How did your neighbors react?

TT: Well, right away I didn't see my neighbors anyway, but the first time I'd seen some of 'em, this one neighbor was pretty good to us. They might have given us an encouraging word, but other than that, I don't remember too much about it.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

LT: This is part two of an interview with Taylor Tomita at his home in Hood River, Oregon. It is March 18, 2014. The interviewer is Linda Tamura, and Ian McCluskey is the videographer. So during the spring of 1942, you and your family learned that you would need to leave Hood River and your farm. How did you learn the news and what were your thoughts?

TT: I really don't remember how I heard the news. But they must have told us ahead of time what day we were going to leave, so we had to get prepared to leave, take whatever you need in camp, what they allow us to take.

LT: What were your thoughts? You had, you were nineteen years old, you had lived all nineteen of your years in Hood River, and now you were being told that you would need to leave. What did you think about that?

TT: Well, I guess they told us ahead of time, we knew that ahead of time we were gonna leave, so it wasn't too much of a shock that we had to leave. I can't remember any real feeling, what I thought about. I guess everybody else is leaving so you thought, well, that's what we had to do.

LT: Okay. Did you know where you were going or what you needed to do to prepare?

TT: No, we didn't know where we were going, but I guess they told us what we could bring, so we got ready to take what we can and just waited 'til the day that we go.

LT: So how did you prepare specifically? What did you decide to take, how did you make that decision, and how did you pack?

TT: Well, I guess we had a couple of suitcase and probably took whatever you wore and maybe an extra. But I only remember being one big suitcase, so maybe we had another suitcase, and whatever we couldn't take in the suitcase, we put it in, my dad bought a piece of canvas and wrapped all the bedding and other clothing in that, just tied it with a kind of small rope. So I think maybe we had to have about two of 'em, and that's all we took, I guess.

LT: Well, now, your family had a farm. What was going to happen to the farm when you were gone?

TT: Well, my dad arranged for neighbors to take care of it. It was a young farm yet, so all he wanted was them to pay the taxes and the payment, we were making payment on the farm. So he did that. But by the time we came back, it was producing pretty good, so it turned out pretty good.

LT: For you or for you...

TT: For my dad and me, for the farm. Because it started producing and making a little bit of money.

LT: And this was a pear farm. Well, how did you leave?

TT: This neighbor lady, she took us down to the train that morning, just got there, and everybody's there waiting to get on the train.

LT: Okay. Before you left, did you say anything to your classmates or visit your neighbors? Did anybody come visit you?

TT: I was out of high school for a year, so I didn't have no classmates around that time, or didn't see any. Only one neighbor, I think, I would have talked to him, but then I don't remember what I was talking about, just tell him that we had to leave and all that. And she said she'd take us down there when we left. That was it.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

LT: Had you ridden a train before?

TT: Huh?

LT: Had you ridden a train before?

TT: No, it was the first time I rode on a train.

LT: Well, so your first ride on a train, you and your family arrive at the downtown train station, your neighbor takes you, and you have two pieces of luggage. You don't know where you're going. Do you remember what you saw at the train station and how you felt and what you did?

TT: Well, I saw all my friends and everybody from the valley that was there, so there was a bunch of us.

LT: What did it look like when you saw them?

TT: There's a bunch of people there waiting for the train. You get on the train.

LT: How were they dressed?

TT: Just casual dressing. No fancy dresses. [Laughs] And those days, the girls mostly wore dresses. Not too many wore pants in those days. I guess older folks, I guess they just dressed natural, like going to town or something like that.

LT: And what was the mood? How did people react?

TT: I don't know. It wasn't loud. Maybe some people were talking to each other, but I didn't hear no loud voices or nothing. I guess everybody was in shock or something.

LT: Okay. Do you remember boarding the train, what you saw, where you sat, what it felt like when you sat down?

TT: Well, all I remember is we all got on, you kind of sat with the family in one, couple of seats or two or three seats that was facing each other. And that thing, nighttime they turned that into a bed. But I don't remember where I slept or anything like that. Maybe we slept on the floor, I don't know.

LT: Were you by yourselves, was there a guard there?

TT: Each car had a guard, I think. I remember having a guard, though. They didn't say too much to us, and we didn't say anything to them. Or maybe some of them might have talked to them, but then I never did.

LT: What did the guard look like?

TT: Just a young American soldier that was in the army. I remember they all had a rifle, and they were just one individual at a time. I don't know if they were going in every car or what, but there was one in our car, in the baggage car.

LT: When the train started to move, do you remember what you did? Did you look out the window, were there other people who came to see you off?

TT: Just the people that took us down there, I think about the only one. I didn't see any large crowd or anything, come to watch us or nothing like that, just the people that brought everybody. So each family must have had somebody bring them there. And then all I remember is this one neighbor, he got a job as a bridge, guard on the bridge by the Bonneville Dam. So I told him when he was leaving and all that, so he said he's looking out for us, and we were looking out the window, but we never did see him.

LT: So once the train was moving, what was the mood like on the train with your family and with other passengers in the train? Do you remember what you saw, what you talked about, what you did?

TT: Well, actually, we didn't talk too much because we just were with family and there wasn't other friends. So we didn't say too much. Hard to remember how I really felt, those days. It wasn't a good feeling, but it wasn't a bad feeling, either.

LT: Well, eventually the train stopped and you were arriving at the assembly center, Pinedale. And when I spoke with your father, he said, "No station, just wild place."

TT: Yeah, just an open field.

LT: Okay. Can you describe what you saw when the train stopped and you got out?

TT: All I remember is a bunch of buses waiting for us to take us to the camp from there. It was just an open field right next to the railroad track. So those buses took us to camp. When we got there, they checked us in. They had Niseis from Sacramento already there, so they were doing all the paperwork and whatever they had to do to check us in. And they assigned us where to go and all that stuff, where to eat and all that.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

LT: So where did you go and what did you see? You were at Pinedale Assembly Center.

TT: All I remember is it was kind of a hot place. There was, across a road there was a fig orchard, I remember that. And we kind of got together with some of our friends from Hood River and kind of, just kind of looked the place over or just walked around. Just signed up for some job or something like that. I ended as a cook help, so I had to, ever meal, they had to go and get ready to cook something. So I don't remember, they said we ate raw spinach, but I remember cooking rice. I really don't remember what we ate, but I remember the raw spinach because somebody was complaining about, just eating raw spinach.

LT: You mentioned the heat. How did the heat affect you at Pinedale?

TT: It didn't bother... it was hot, but it wasn't too bad. It was so hot that some, some kind of fainted waiting in line to eat, waiting for the meal, they had to line up outside. So I remember some of them started fainting. But other than that, I don't remember anything else.

LT: What about the bathrooms?

TT: It was an outdoor privy with about six or ten holes on a bench, and no running water or nothing.

LT: Was there privacy?

TT: No, it was all open. I don't know about the women's, but then the men's, it was all open.

LT: And what about the showers?

TT: I think it was just a big room with a bunch of showerheads on the side, and that's all I can remember about the shower. There was no privacy or nothing, just all wide open.

LT: So what was it like for the Issei and Nisei to have bathroom facilities where there was no privacy?

TT: Well, I don't know. Nobody complained to me about it, so I never heard anything. All I know is what I saw.

LT: Okay. And how did your father and your mother spend their time at Pinedale?

TT: I don't know. I don't know what they did, whether they got a job doing something. But then we were never home anyway, too much. If it was in daytime, I was working in the cook's helper or running around with my friends from Hood River, that's about the way we spent our time.

LT: Okay. Well, then Pinedale was a temporary facility. So then eventually you moved to Tule Lake, which was one of the camps in Northern California. How was Tule Lake different from Pinedale?

TT: It was a lot better. All I know is a bunch of us got a job washing dishes in the mess hall. Just came there in time to do the work, and then we used to run around together. I don't know what we did, we would go somewhere. Just kept, just killing our time doing something, but I don't remember exactly what we did.

LT: Were there social events?

TT: Yeah, in Tule Lake there was a lot of dances going on all the time. Some block always had a, seemed like they always had a dance somewhere. So my friend, he liked to go dancing all the time, so I used to go with him, and we used to try to get a date and then go to those dances. Then sometimes they had a, once in a while they'd have a dance in our block. It seemed like that was the main thing as far as the younger guys. Nothing else to do, so they were just trying to get a date and go to dances.

LT: So can you tell us about a dance, the kind of music you listened to, the kind of dancing you did, what happened at the dances?

TT: Well, they used to have a Nisei band in the camp. And they hired them... I guess that was their job, I guess, to go around to dances and play music. They had a band. I don't know. Later on, some of these guys, they bought a PA system, they had the records, all those 78 records, and they used to go, they used to play for the dances. They knew who had those and they, I guess they paid them to play for the dances.

LT: So what kind of music did you listen to and what kind of dancing did you do?

TT: It was ordinary slow dancing and the jitterbug. Because the California guys knew how to jitterbug, and everybody started learning how to jitterbug. It's a fast dance. So it was one or the other, slow dance or fast, fast dance. Learned how to do that. What was the question?

LT: Were you a pretty good dancer?

TT: [Laughs] Nothing special.

LT: Well, it sounds like you and your friends had quite a bit of time. I'm thinking that when you were in Hood River, you were working on the farm. In camp, you were working in the mess hall, and then you had time to spend with your friends.

TT: Yeah. This one guy... two or three of us ran around together. But all the guys there, about six or seven, had dishwashers, then we kind of hung around together. I don't know what we did, we went somewhere.

LT: In the camp?

TT: In the camp.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

LT: Well, you also helped to furnish your barrack.

TT: Yeah.

LT: Can you talk about what furnishings your barrack had when you arrived, and then what you and your father did to furnish it?

TT: Well, when we got there, they were still working on it. They just had plyboards on the inside, and later on, there were Isseis or Niseis that got job as a carpenter, they went around and finished the job, and put sheetrocks inside instead of the plyboard. I remember that. To kill time, we used to make some kind of furniture. I remember he built kind of like a sofa, you know, just out of plyboard and a two-by-four, just like a big chair. Then I had a lot of time, so I built some desks, made some desks In camp. I liked to do carpentry work, so I made the desk.

LT: Sounds like your family had quite a bit of furniture then based on what you and your father contributed.

TT: Well, we just liked to do that kind of work, I guess.

LT: So where did you get the tools, and how did you make them and where did you make them?

TT: Well, what tool we have, I think the camp, they must have had a camp store or something that we used to go buy, or either that or ordered it in a catalog. Well, mainly saw and hammer and chisels and sandpaper and stuff like that. They sold a few things there, I don't remember a store there, but must have got it somewhere.

LT: And where did you get the wood?

TT: The wood is leftover wood that, when the built the barracks, they had a bunch of leftover wood. So some of them, I remember like my desk, on the two-by-four, it has nail holes, so it's just some wood that they used. Or they had a pile right close by, so we just picked what you wanted.

LT: And where did you build your furniture?

TT: Outside, right in front of your door, in between the two barracks there, there's some room there, so that's where we built it.

LT: Do you still have any of the furniture that you built in camp?

TT: I don't have it here, but in Odell I had a desk, I just left it there when I moved out. And then a couple of desks I made, I gave it to a couple of my friends. One of them was my cousin, I think, in Portland, I gave it to her. And the other one, I gave it to somebody else.

LT: It would be interesting to see what they looked like.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

LT: Well, at Tule Lake, you and your family and other Japanese Americans were asked to fill out a "loyalty questionnaire." What was it, and what were some of the questions that you answered? The "loyalty questionnaire"?

TT: Yeah, the "loyalty questions" was that, what was that, I can't remember. Would you fight for the U.S. or go in the army, or I can't remember exactly. Then they had one, for the Isseis, would you renounce your citizenship, Japanese citizenship? That's the one they had trouble with because they can't get American citizenship, and then here they wanted them to renounce their Japanese citizenship. They told them they'd be a man without a country. So I think they changed that, so they didn't have to answer that.

LT: When you and your family were faced with the questionnaire, was that a dilemma for you?

TT: I think it was for a lot of people. They didn't know what to do, and we had to all go to an ag. building or somewhere to fill out the... I don't know who was there, whether it was soldiers there or who, but somebody was there to hand out the forms and gather it up and stuff like that. So, why, everybody just went when they felt like going. So when they were ready to go, they went and signed up.

LT: And there were some who answered those two questions "yes-yes," and there were some who answered those questions "no-no." That was a difficult division.

TT: Yeah. Well, those who answered "no-no," they were willing to go to Japan or stay segregated right there. That was going to be the "no-no" camp from every other camp that was "no-no." So the other one that they want to say "no-no," they all left for other camps.


TT: Was it difficult for former neighbors and friends who answered differently to the "loyalty questionnaire"?

TT: Well, it might have, but then we didn't have any friends that were as close as our family friends that signed "no-no," so we didn't have much trouble. But then there were some, some of the guys that didn't want to, they want to answer "yes-yes," they were trying to get their friends to answer "no-no," too. Like Parkdale, there was a few that... this Mark Sato is kind of, he didn't want to, he was a "no-no," so he was trying to get his friends to say "no-no," but some of them did and some of them didn't. I don't know how it caused any trouble with them.

LT: But a community that had been more united when you'd left was now separated in some ways because of the responses to the "loyalty questionnaire," and you were moving to different camps then. So the "no-nos" stayed at Tule Lake, which is where you were, and you and your family and other families who answered "yes-yes" moved to other camps. Again you were moving. Was that difficult for your family?

TT: Not really that bad, I don't think. Well, you don't have too much things to move anyway, so it wasn't that bad, I don't think. And you're going to where you wanted to go.

LT: How was Minidoka different from Pinedale and Tule Lake?

TT: Well, I don't think too much difference. All the food and stuff were about the same, just different neighbors now. Only thing different is I noticed in Tule Lake, they used to have block managers, they kind of look after the block, they were Niseis. But when I went to Minidoka, I noticed the block managers, all of them were Isseis, most of them were Isseis. So I don't know if that had anything, made any different there or not, but I noticed that.

LT: What was your overall feeling about being in camp during the war years?

TT: To us young guys, it wasn't really that bad. Because actually, before, you had to work hard and make a living, now you're doing nothing. [Laughs] Just running around doing nothing, so it was an easier life, I guess you could say, as far as the physical part.

LT: So there were some pluses in being in camp. Were there any negatives?

TT: Well, you couldn't do what you wanted to do, and go anywhere. Although from camp we went out to work, because some companies like Blue Mountain Cannery in Dayton, Oregon, the head of that company came to the camp looking for labor, because, during the war, labor shortage, so they were really looking for men to do this type of job, farm job. So a bunch of guys got tired of sitting in camp, seemed like a good chance to go outside and so they went out to get a job, work.

LT: Did you ever think about the reason that you and your family were in camp?

TT: Not really. There wasn't much we could do anyway, to the government, pretty hard to buck the government when you're not a big outfit or anything. I guess most of us just took it in stride, even if they didn't like it.

LT: The Issei weren't citizens, the Nisei were. Did that make a difference?

TT: To the government it didn't make no difference, because they put us in the same place.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

LT: Well, in January 1945, you got notice that you were to be drafted, and you were in camp. So what did you think about that, and what did you do?

TT: Well, not much I could do, but I guess I didn't think too much about it because everybody else was going in anyway ahead of you. So if you didn't go in with them, you start wondering how come they haven't called me yet. I was one of the later ones, I guess. So we just marched waiting to go in.

LT: So the United States government was asking you to serve while your family was in camp behind barbed wires. Was that a predicament for you at all?

TT: Everybody said it wasn't right, but then it just happened, so there's nothing we could do about it, or I could do about it, anyway.

LT: Your father said that he was worried when you went into the army. He told me, "If you go into the army, maybe die, so I can't see him again. Do I don't like to go army. No, I don't tell. All I said was goodbye." What do you remember about leaving your father and your mother and going into the army?

TT: Well, I don't remember anything. My dad came -- when we left, he came to see us off, but my mother didn't, but my dad, I remember he came to see the bus off going to the camp. All he did was give me some money to spend, so that was about it.

LT: Okay. He didn't tell you how he felt?

TT: Huh?

LT: He didn't tell you how he felt?

TT: No.

LT: Did he give you any advice?

TT: No.

LT: So where did you go for your training, and what do you remember about your training?

TT: We went to a place called Camp Walters in Texas, and we trained there for about three weeks, I guess. And from there, we went to Fort Meade as the kind of gathering place to go overseas. So we all went there, and from there, we took a ship to Italy. But all of us had trained together for the gathering there, all the Niseis. Half of them went to Italy and then half of them went to Fort Snelling in Minnesota to the intelligence training, I guess, to go to Japan. Just because you trained with them, you didn't go to the same place. I don't know how they separated us, or if somebody asked to go there, I don't know.

LT: And in September 1945, you went to Italy. What do you recall about that? Where did you go and what did you do?

TT: Where did I what?

LT: Where did you go in Italy and what was your role?

TT: We landed in Naples, Italy, then they shipped us up north where all the, place called Leghorn, where most of the Nisei camps were up there, so we got stationed there for, in different companies. And we got sent to different companies. We just did, I don't know what we did, we did some yard work. And then I'd go around as a train guard from Naples, hauling supplies, army supplies for all the camps up there, north. So I guess the ships came in to Naples and unloaded there, and with the train, they're going up north to different camps, so they needed some guards to guard the train while we were going up there, so I got on the train guard there for a while.

LT: And the war was over, so you were taking the supplies to the Allied camps.

TT: Yeah.

LT: And at some points, you also served as a guard at prison camp.

TT: Yeah, where we were stationed, I was in I Company. Right near there, there was a German prisoner of war camp, and our job was to go on the tower and guard it, different shifts.

LT: And can you talk about what it looked like and the prisoners who were there and what your job was?

TT: What we were supposed to do was watch from the tower that nobody escaped. But I don't even remember what the camp looked like, prison camp. All I saw was the edge of the camp, so I don't know how to... although those prisoners, they came into our camp and did some work for us, for the U.S. Army camp, like our company. Our company barber was a German prisoner of war, and they did other odd jobs, I guess.

LT: When they did jobs for you, were they protected in any way, or did they have armed guards on them?

TT: No. They were free to run around in our camp. Being a barber, they were, nobody was guarding them. I don't think they would have escaped anyway. They probably didn't know where to go if they escaped. They were just like another soldier, only they are a German soldier. Because at that time, there were a lot of German prisoner of war in the United States even, because of, like, when we went to Camp Patrick Henry to board a ship to go overseas. Those guys working in the mess hall were all German prisoners of war that were sent over to the U.S. earlier.

LT: Okay, thank you.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

LT: So in September of 1946 you returned. You left the military and you returned home.

TT: After what? LT: In September 1946 you completed your military commitment and you returned home?

TT: Uh-huh.

LT: Okay. What did you know about Hood River and what were your feelings about coming home?

TT: We were glad to get home. As far as Hood River, when I got off the bus, my dad was waiting for me, to pick me up. But didn't see anybody else. Didn't go to town very much, because they said there were all kinds of signs up there, but I don't remember seeing those signs. Maybe they were down by the time I came home.

LT: What kinds of signs are you talking about?

TT: Saying "No Japs Wanted" or something like that.

LT: And why was the community discouraging Japanese Americans from returning, especially when you had served in the United States armed forces?

TT: Well, to most of them, that didn't make no difference to them. We were "Japs" and that was it. In the paper one time they were worried about Isseis taking over Hood River. They said they were buying all the lands up and all that kind of stuff. Maybe, I don't know if that had anything to do, but most of these guys were town people, and they weren't farmers. I think they... because Hood River News, it shows this guy that was kind of heading it, he'd show a map of lands owned by the Isseis and trying to say that they're taking over or something like that. And then he's the one that gathered all the names that, for us not to come back.

LT: And what are you talking about in terms of the names?

TT: This one guy that's heading it, he'd go around and ask for a petition so that we wouldn't come back, trying to discourage us to come back, and he's getting all the names to say that all these people don't want you to come back. So he's gathering all the names he could.

LT: And where did those names appear?

TT: In the Hood River News. Every week he'd go around getting more names and then he'd publish it in the Hood River News. So it wasn't just one time, it was over so many weeks. So if you weren't a real strong person, you'd sign that name, I think, sign your name.

LT: Did you see the names of people whom you knew?

TT: Yeah, I saw a lot of them. In fact, I know this one guy, Downey, that we lent our land, he rented our place. He came in to visit us one time in camp, Tule Lake, brought us some apples, I think. And he says, "Well, if you see my name, just forget about it. In other words, he's saying he's kind of forced to, otherwise he'd be a "Jap lover." So there were probably people that really didn't want to sign, but they signed because they were pressured to sign. So it's hard to tell who's really, if they really wanted to sign or if they just went along or something, so it's hard to tell.

LT: When you learned about these petitions, did you and your family think twice about returning home?

TT: No, we never did. That didn't stop us. We had our land then, still had our land. If you didn't have no land, you might have thought twice, but then, because quite a few people didn't own land, they went somewhere else like Chicago and some other places. But most people had land. Some of them sold it, but then most of 'em, they just kept it, so they came back.

LT: You mentioned the signs "No Japs Wanted." Were there times when you were not welcome in stores?

TT: Well, one time I went to menswear, and got kicked out of there because he wouldn't sell me anything. But other than that, only place that sold right away was Safeway store. I don't know, something... I don't know when they started selling to us, I don't know when they started, but must have been a year or two later. But we knew which one was which, and wouldn't go there anyway. But some of the places, I remember going to a feed store, and I remember going there early, and equipment, Shepherd's Equipment, they are selling us early. Most of them, I don't know when the sign came down, where they started selling.

LT: What is it like to live in a community where you're not sure if you're welcome, and there are so many who will not sell to you? What is it like to be in that kind of a community?

TT: Well... I guess I didn't think too much about that and just wanted to live where we were before. So we could get by without buying from them anyway. Some of the stuff I don't remember, like Diamond Fruit where we used to take our fruit, I guess they took it, took our fruit right away. I don't remember any other thing.

LT: Were there those who were especially supportive of you?

TT: Oh, yeah. Like Mrs. Moore, especially, she'd go buy things for you if you needed something and couldn't get it. Others were supportive because of... like Sherman Burgoyne the minister. Seemed like all the Nisei were getting married about that time. He was doing all the marriages. Seems like everybody went to him. Your dad probably was one of them.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

LT: Well, as the Issei and the Nisei tried to rebuild their community and integrate within the Hood River larger community, bowling became one way that you made connections. How did you become a bowler?

TT: Well, four of five of us used to run around together. We used to like to go out and do something, so bowling was the place where we were invited. So we all went there, bowling, started bowling.

LT: Where did you go?

TT: To Hood River Alley where Rini and his wife was... well, he bought the place, and he came from back east, but I think he came with another guy, and then he started bowling and the other guy, I don't know what he did. I think he was, had a service station for a while, I don't know what happened to him. But they really treated us pretty good. So where you're welcome, you go there, so we started bowling and didn't know what, anything else to do except maybe a movie or something. But we didn't go to movies too much, or we'd maybe go to Portland or something, but when we went to Hood River, we had bowling all the time.

LT: And this was after the war. And so you and other Nisei went together and learned to bowl. Could you join the league?

TT: Huh?

LT: Could you join a bowling league?

TT: No. At that time we couldn't join the league.

LT: So how did you participate then?

TT: Well, we had a Nisei league. Just the Niseis bowled. We'd make four, I think I must have been four teams we made up and we started bowling in the Nisei League. Then we used to match game with Portland or something, have kind of a small tournament. In fact, we were... we were, started bowling before even Portland did. I guess Portland had other things to do, so Hood River only had bowling to do, so they were more of us at the beginning. And then 'til 1950, then we can start bowling with the other white teams.

LT: And what happened in 1950?

TT: I don't know if the National Bowling League, if they forced them to let Niseis join or what, but anyway, that's when they started taking us.

LT: Yes, my understanding is that the American Bowling Congress in 1951 abolished their whites-only policy.

TT: Yeah, that's probably it.

LT: And then how did that change bowling in Hood River?

TT: It didn't make no difference. They started taking us, I guess. There's a couple of teams that weren't too friendly with us, but the rest of them were okay, so it didn't bother us too much. Everybody knew who, what team wasn't very friendly to us, they're the Elks and the firemen. There was two teams, they weren't very friendly. So when we started out, the first couple of us, this one hakujin guy came and asked us to join his team so we could play. And then later on the next year I think, we joined that league, but then we joined as a Nisei team. And a couple of teams joined in, and that's how it got started.

LT: And then after a while you had integrated teams.

TT: Yeah.

LT: So how long did you bowl, Taylor?

TT: Well, that bowling alley closed down. I don't know when the New Orchard Lane came in, so everybody went up there in that league. I went up there for a couple of years and then I quit. My back was bothering me so I quit. So I kind of quit early and I haven't bowled since. [Laughs] I don't think I can lift a ball anyway.

LT: Times have changed, haven't they? In recent years, Japanese Americans have gained redress and have spoken out for civil rights. The government has apologized for the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. What are your thoughts? You experienced the war, you were placed in camp, the government has apologized and said that was a mistake. You lived through that. What do you think about all this?

TT: Well, I think it was pretty good that they realized everything. Everybody could use the money, I guess. There's a few people that didn't think we should get it. Most of 'em, I don't know about most of 'em, they probably went along with the government. They paid it.

LT: And you're talking about the twenty thousand dollar reparations?

TT: Yeah.

LT: And what did you think about receiving that money?

TT: Oh, I thought it was okay. I thought we deserve it.

LT: Okay. And can you tell why?

TT: Well, the way they treated us, I guess.

LT: Okay.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

LT: You were in camp, and then you served in the military. How did your wartime experience change you?

TT: Only thing I could think of is we got to meet a lot of friends, got to know a lot of people that otherwise, if we just stuck in Hood River, we'd have never known. So nowadays, anywhere you go, you know somebody. Yeah, lot of people that you knew in camp, so lot of friends nowadays. That was a good thing.

LT: So there was a good part. What was the bad part?

TT: Only bad part I can think of is if you went out of camp to some town, you were called names and stuff like that. I know even trying to pick a fight, and so in Twin Falls, went to Twin Falls with my friends, and this one soldier, he was drunk, and he was trying to pick a fight with my friend and he's telling about, saying something about his buddy got killed in Japan in the Pacific. Then this guy, he said, "My cousin was killed in the Pacific, too," or something. But that guy kept trying to pick a fight with him. Finally a cab driver, just right near the front of the cab stand, cab driver came up and he kind of broke that guy up. But when he came out, all kinds of guys started coming around us, something's going on, got interested, anyway. Before, they were just walking by and think nothing of two guys arguing. But when that cab driver stopped the guy from picking on us, then a whole mess of guys started huddling around us, this kind of thing.

And then we went out to work in Filer in the spring, got a job, he came into camp and wanted some labor, so we went out, six, eight of us, I guess. Then they took us out there, but then, to come back to Twin Falls, we had to catch a bus. But you get on the bus and you get a funny feeling because somebody's going to say something to you. So I hated to ride the bus, somebody was going to say something.

LT: What should we learn from what happened to Japanese Americans during the war?

TT: I don't really know.

LT: Okay.

TT: Not much you can do. If two countries get into war, there's nothing, not much you can do about it. So I can't think of anything, what to say.

LT: Okay, one last question. What's important in life?

TT: Right now? Trying to stay healthy, I guess.

LT: And what are you doing to stay healthy?

TT: Oh, trying not to overdo things. And I even try not to eat too much, smaller portion. I should exercise, I guess, but I don't exercise.

LT: Well, you've got a big lawn to mow.

TT: Huh?

LT: You have a big lawn to mow.

TT: Yeah, that's my exercise in the summertime, weeding the bushes and flowers and stuff like that. So then, well, up 'til lately, I was pretty active cutting trees and hauling them to the dump and stuff like that, taking a chainsaw and cutting things. This lady, she's surprised I was... at that time I was eighty-seven, she was surprised that I did all that kind of work. I guess I was doing a little bit of work.

LT: Keep healthy. Thank you very much, Taylor.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.