Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Shig Oka Interview
Narrator: Shig Oka
Interviewer: Kim Blair
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: July 1, 2014
Densho ID: denshovh-oshig-01

<Begin Segment 1>

KB: Today's date is Tuesday, July 1, 2014. We're conducting this interview at the Oregon Buddhist Church in Portland, Oregon. This interview is being conducted by the Oregon Nikkei Endowment as part of the Minidoka Oral History Project. There is one observer present in the room, Marlene Wallingford. Our camera operator is Ian McCluskey from Northwest Documentary. I'm the interviewer, Kim Blair, and today, we're interviewing Shig Oka. Good morning, Shig, how are you?

SO: Good morning. I'm fine, thank you.

KB: Great, thank you so much for coming today. Can you start by telling us when and where you were born?

SO: I was born in Portland, Oregon, July 28, 1930. I was born in between the railroad tracks at the Portland railroad station.

KB: And where were you living at that time?

SO: I was living in a converted boxcar.

KB: Why were you living in a converted boxcar? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

SO: I was born there because my dad worked for the SP&S, which is Spokane, (Portland & Seattle) Railroad company.

KB: And the railroad car was your home?

SO: Yes. They converted a railroad car into a home for us.

KB: How many of them were down there at that time, do you remember?

SO: I know there are at least two families in the area.

KB: And do you remember the street area or right where it was exactly?

SO: Around between Hoyt and Marshall.

KB: How long did you live in that converted boxcar?

SO: It must have been a year or two because we moved to the Beaver Apartments, which was on Twelfth (Avenue) and about Marshall Street.

KB: Do you remember the apartments and not the boxcar?

SO: That's right, because I was too young, just a baby.

KB: And what was your full name at birth?

SO: Shigeo Oka.

KB: And is there any significance to your first name?

SO: I don't believe so. There's a lot of Shigs, Shig is short for Shigeo, and there's other Shigs, Shigeru and other endings to Shig.

KB: Was that a common name?

SO: Common name.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

KB: And what was your father's name and his place of birth?

SO: My father's name was Moichi Oka. And he was born in Japan, I don't know exactly where, but probably Okayama, 'cause that's where our relatives live.

KB: And do you know what kind of work your father's family did while they were living there?

SO: I think they were all farmers there.

KB: And do you have any idea how many brothers and sisters he had?

SO: No, I do not know that history.

KB: Okay. And do you have any idea why he decided to come to America, your father?

SO: I guess it was hard to make a living in Japan, therefore he wanted to come to the United States.

KB: So you might assume he might not have been the first son?

SO: That's correct.

KB: And your mother's name and place of birth?

SO: My mother's name was Ayako Sato, S-A-T-O, and she must have been born there near Okayama, too.

KB: Do you know that?

SO: I presume that.

KB: And do you know what type of work her family did?

SO: They were farmers also.

KB: And why did your mom come to America, do you know?

SO: I think she got married.

KB: She got married to your dad?

SO: (Yes), to my dad.

KB: And how did your father and mother meet?

SO: I do not know that history. I know they had Grandpa and Grandma over there.

KB: Do you think it was an arranged marriage?

SO: It probably was at that time.

KB: What's the age difference between your mother and your father?

SO: It was around ten years, I believe.

KB: Your father was older?

SO: Older, yes.

KB: And what did your father do here in America? You said he worked for the SP&S, what exactly did he do?

SO: He worked at the train station, I guess he was repairing or whatever. He's just a handyman there.

KB: So he worked maybe maintenance, handyman, repairing things?

SO: Yes, I believe so. I mean, he worked at the railroad station, so he didn't go far away.

KB: Do you know how long he worked there, I mean, how many years?

SO: Oh, many years. Until the war was...

KB: Did he work, do you know the hours that he worked? Do you remember when he came home?

SO: He had a daytime job.

KB: So he came home in time for dinner?

SO: Yeah.

KB: And your mom, what did she do? What was her role?

SO: She was a housekeeper and just raised, we had four children.

KB: Four children, and can you give me their names?

SO: The oldest one was Toshio, and the next was my sister Yasuko, and then my brother Terumasa, his nickname was Terry, and then myself, Shig.

KB: So you had four, so you were the youngest?

SO: I was the youngest, yes. They were all two years apart.

KB: Your brothers and sisters were two years apart?

SO: Yes.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

KB: Can you tell me what you remember about your father? What was his personality like, can you describe your father? What do you remember?

SO: He was fairly short, and he was quiet. My mother was the one that was outgoing, and she was taller than him.

KB: Did you spend time doing things with your dad?

SO: Yeah, he took me to Portland Beaver baseball games when I was a youngster.

KB: And where was that?

SO: At the Vaughn Street baseball stadium.

KB: Was it just you and your dad, or did your brothers and sister go, too?

SO: My brothers and I went, usually.

KB: So you have good memories of that?

SO: My third oldest brother. The first brother was gone. He was sent back to Japan at six years old to study in Japan.

KB: Who did he live with when he went there?

SO: He lived with his grandpa and grandma.

KB: On Dad's side or Mom's side?

SO: I don't know which side they were relatives from.

KB: Did you ever meet those grandparents?

SO: No, I have never met them.

KB: So your brother is sent to Japan. Do you remember if, was it by himself? Did someone travel with him if he was six?

SO: I think he went with some families that were going to go back to Japan.

KB: Did he ever come back to America?

SO: No, he didn't come back to America. I never met him until I was sixty-five years old.

KB: And how did that happen?

SO: I went back to Japan to actually see him.

KB: And how was that meeting?

SO: It was really great. He was really... he was really happy to see me, because he had never seen me, the youngest child.

KB: Did you stay in touch with him during all of those years with letters or phone calls?

SO: No, my parents did, but I didn't.

KB: And what prompted you at sixty-five to go see your brother?

SO: Well, I belong to the Lions Club, and they were, we had an exchange with both the Sapporo and the Shimonoseki Lions Club, and I took time out to visit him.

KB: And that was a good experience for both of you?

SO: Yes.

KB: You're happy you did that? So you've said a little bit about your father, can you describe your mother?

SO: My mother was... she's an outgoing person. She's very loving and caring.

KB: Do you remember doing things with your mom like you talked about your dad?

SO: No, I think we just went on picnics and a few other things she'd make.

KB: Family picnics?

SO: Family picnics.

KB: Did you go with other families, or just your family?

SO: Yes, we went with other families, yes.

KB: And how would you describe your relationship between your mother and father?

SO: Well, I'm not too sure.

KB: Did they make decisions together, were they affectionate with each other?

SO: They weren't that affectionate, because I don't think the Japanese people were that affectionate.

KB: And do you know if they made decisions together, family decisions? Was your father head of house?

SO: Yeah, he was the head of the household. He made decisions.

KB: And you talked about living in this boxcar on Twelfth and Hoyt, and then you moved to the Beaver Apartments, and that was on Northwest Marshall and Twelfth, is that correct?

SO: Yes.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

KB: And you talked about your brothers and sisters. Can you talk about memories of being a kid and life in your community? What was it like growing up?

SO: It was nice because there was a lot of families in that area, and we always played games and just had friends all the time.

KB: Were they all Japanese American friends, or were they...

SO: Mostly, yes.

KB: Mostly? What kind of games did you guys play?

SO: We played Kick the Can and Hide and Seek.

KB: So you would go to school, would you come home and play or did you do the, mostly the playing on weekends?

SO: On the weekend because we had to go to the Japanese school after the regular school, four to six on weekdays and half a day on Saturday.

KB: And where was the Japanese school that you went to?

SO: It was on Sixth and Glisan, upstairs.

KB: What do you remember about Japanese school?

SO: They were strict. [Laughs]

KB: Your teachers were strict?

SO: Yes. I went 'til fourth grade, I believe.

KB: And what did you learn?

SO: Japanese speaking.

KB: The language?

SO: Yeah, language, speaking, writing.

KB: Did you speak Japanese with your mom and dad?

SO: Yes, I did at that time.

KB: Did either one of them know English very well?

SO: Not very well, but we can communicate.

KB: So your brother and your sister, did you speak English with them?

SO: I did, (yes). My oldest brother was sent to Japan at six years old, so I really didn't meet him, because I wasn't born yet.

KB: But you talked to your other brother, Terry, and your sister in English?

SO: Yes.

KB: And did you all go to the same school?

SO: I believe they went to Atkinson before we transferred to Couch school, because Atkinson was torn down.

KB: So you never went to Atkinson, but they did, and then you all went to Couch once that was torn down?

SO: Right.

KB: And did you have any childhood responsibilities to help out at home?

SO: I don't believe I did. There was two older siblings.

KB: And who were your friends? Can you remember their names, that you played with?

SO: I think they were Jim Tsujimura and Shig Yuzurima, they were not too close by, but I did play with them. And we used to go down to the North Park Blocks. They had a lot of Japanese and Chinese people, kids playing there.

KB: What did you guys do, play ball or do other things?

SO: (Yes), they had horseshoes, ping pong, and other games to play. Checkers.

KB: So you mentioned that there was Chinese kids there, too, you guys played okay together?

SO: There were rivalries.

KB: There were rivalries?

SO: Back then, yes.

KB: Sports rivalries or cultural rivalries?

SO: I think sports. Very competitive.

KB: And so what kind of sports did you compete with them?

SO: I didn't, the other people competed, baseball, softball. I can't remember all the sports that they played.

KB: So did you go to school with the Chinese students and Caucasian students as well in your classroom?

SO: Yes, up in Couch, yes. It was integrated.

KB: Did you ever feel any prejudice or anything when you were going to school there, at grade school?

SO: No, not me, I don't think.

KB: Did you notice any at all with anybody?

SO: No, we were too young to notice that.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

KB: So if you are living here at the Beaver Apartments, what kind of meals did you have? Did Mom fix them, did you eat Japanese food, American food, what did you eat?

SO: Both, (yes).

KB: Did you take any trips with each other, family trips?

SO: No, we weren't, we weren't that mobile.

KB: Did you have a car?

SO: No.

KB: No? How did you guys get around?

SO: By bus, I believe.

KB: And so you spoke, your primary language was English, you yourself. And did you like school?

SO: I loved school, yes.

KB: And what did you like about school?

SO: Gym. [Laughs]

KB: Were you an athlete?

SO: No, I wasn't an athlete. But just playing.

KB: Did you like your teachers?

SO: Yes, they were very nice, yes. I liked to play marbles, I think, when I was a youngster.

KB: Did you have your own marble set?

SO: [Nods].

KB: How did you get your marbles?

SO: Started to buy them, I guess.

KB: Were there places around your neighborhood that you would go buy...

SO: Near the school you can get marbles and then get, play with the yo-yos.

KB: So you had some change or some money and you would go to the store?

SO: Yeah, very little.

KB: Did you earn the money, did your mom and dad give it to you?

SO: They gave me a little stipend.

KB: Do you remember the store at all?

SO: There was a lot of stores on Twenty-first, I believe, Couch school's on about Twentieth or Twenty-first Street, and there was a lot of shops up there.

KB: And you and your friends would go after school before you came home and buy marbles and yo-yos, just being a kid. And you had no nickname, or did you have a nickname?

SO: No, just Shig for short.

KB: Your brother had a nickname.

SO: Yeah.

KB: What was that?

SO: T-bone.

KB: Do you know where that came from?

SO: He was lanky and tall, I guess.

KB: T-bone. And you said you went to Japanese language school. Do you remember where that was?

SO: It was on Sixth and Glisan (northwest).

KB: Did your family and you participate in any of the community events like the picnic?

SO: Yes, at the end of the school year they always had a picnic, and we went to that.

KB: Was that Japanese school?

SO: Yes, Japanese school.

KB: And do you remember where the picnic was held?

SO: They were held in some farmland, I can't remember.

KB: So what was your favorite part of that picnic?

SO: They had contests running, and they gave out prizes, that's why.

KB: Did you like the food?

SO: Yes. Picnic foods is always good.

KB: And did your parents talk to you at all about the Japanese culture or being Japanese?

SO: Well, they followed Japanese culture, holidays, too. New Year's was the very big one, and we had Christmas. We celebrated many different special days.

KB: So you learned about both cultures as a child.

SO: Correct.

KB: Did you feel more than one or the other? Did you feel more American or more Japanese or balanced?

SO: Probably more American.

KB: More American?

SO: I was born and raised here.

KB: And you talked about New Year's, did your mom cook for New Year's, traditional?

SO: Traditional.

KB: Did you have a community event at New Year's, or was it just celebrating it at home?

SO: Mostly celebrating at home.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

KB: So you hung out with your friends, Bones, and Kenji, and your brother Terry and another little guy named Ben, and I understand you were known as the "Railroad Rascals." Can you tell us a little bit about that?

SO: I don't know why they called us the Railroad, I guess because we lived close to the railroad and their parents were working for the railroad, too. We have a picture of the five of us, I guess, one, two, three, four, five, yeah. I'll bring that in and let you have it.

KB: Who gave you the name, do you remember, of the Railroad Rascals?

SO: I think Bones' older sister. It's just we're in overalls, and we look like rascals. [Laughs]

KB: That's fantastic. And your home at the Beaver Apartments, you lived there starting around 1937. Do you remember what that looked like, were there kids in the neighborhood there? What was it like living in the apartment?

SO: Well, that's a big apartment on the first and second floor, I believe. The structure was for, I think it used to be a hospital or something before it turned into apartments. It was a pretty big place, and I used to ride a trike in the hallway.

KB: Down the hallway to the apartments? So you had friends that were in the apartments also that you played with?

SO: Yeah.

KB: Is that apartment building still here?

SO: No.

KB: It's gone.

SO: Yeah, it's gone.

KB: And then it looks like you moved to a house?

SO: (Yes), by 1940, (yes), we rented a house on 1527 (NW) Kearney Street, and we were there for two years until the war broke out in 1941, and we were there for that.

KB: And it was northwest or northeast?

SO: Northwest.

KB: Northwest Kearney. And is that house still there?

SO: No, the freeway took it out, so it isn't there.

KB: What do you remember about that house?

SO: It was just a two-bedroom house.

KB: Did you have to share it with your brother?

SO: (Yes), I did, with my brother and my sister.

KB: And who did you rent that home from?

SO: His first name was Ben, but I don't remember... he had a six-plex right next to it. I guess he had, that whole house was his before he moved into a six-plex right next door on the corner.

KB: And did you have playmates there also in the neighborhood?

SO: No, I don't think we had playmates close by. School was about fifteen blocks west.

KB: That was still Couch that you were going to?

SO: Couch school, yes.

KB: And then you, there was some big event in 1937, what was that in Portland?

SO: In Portland in 1937, that was the most snow that was, fell, I think it was about three feet.

KB: And what did you, did you love that as a kid?

SO: Yeah, we didn't have to go to school. [Laughs]

KB: Snow day.

SO: Snow day.

KB: Did you have a sled or did you build a snowman?

SO: Probably built a snowman, but I don't know if I had a sled.

KB: Do you remember how long that snowstorm lasted? Did you miss lots of days of school?

SO: No, but the snow didn't melt that fast, so I guess we were out for several days, anyway.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

KB: You lived in the house on Kearney 'til war happened, so let's talk a little bit about Pearl Harbor. Where were you?

SO: I was at home.

KB: How old were you?

SO: In '41 I was (eleven) years old.

KB: How did you hear about it?

SO: By the radio. It was President Roosevelt.

KB: Were you home with your family?

SO: Yeah.

KB: How did your parents react when you heard that news?

SO: I don't think they were that happy, because you live in the U.S. and you have war against Japan. So I think we found that there was some prejudice at that time.

KB: Against your family?

SO: Yeah.

KB: Do you remember any incidents specifically?

SO: No incidents, but I think they didn't want to rent to us.

KB: Where were you staying?

SO: Yeah.

KB: What did your parents feel, too? Your brother is in Japan, living in Japan, and you were in America, and now you have war.

SO: Yeah, that was a conflict.

KB: Conflict. Can you remember how, reactions to that at all?

SO: Well, they knew that he couldn't come back anymore.

KB: How old was he at the time?

SO: He must have been about twelve. No, he was of army age in Japan.

KB: Did he...

SO: He had to go (into) the Japanese army.

KB: He had to go? Tell us a little bit about that.

SO: He had to go to the service in Japan, so he was lucky he came out of it all right.

KB: But what a dilemma, your brother fighting against all of you that still live here.

SO: That's right.

KB: Do you remember any reaction from your parents at that time, when that happened?

SO: I'm sure they were afraid.

KB: Did you have any incidents at school, that you might be treated differently after Pearl Harbor?

SO: No, I don't think... their friends were still friends, but then I think they had a little bit of... I don't know what you call it, I don't know if it's prejudice.

KB: Did teachers treat you differently?

SO: No, I don't think the children were bothered that much.

KB: So you just went to school that next week and just, business as usual.

SO: Yeah.

KB: Did your family talk about war at all or what might happen to them or your family when Pearl Harbor happened?

SO: No, we didn't talk about it.

KB: Didn't have any idea what would happen?

SO: Yeah, they're just probably afraid a little bit.

KB: Your mom or dad didn't put away anything that was Japanese in the home to make sure that people didn't think that you were loyal to Japan or anything like that?

SO: I think you had to hand in your shortwave radios to the FBI.

KB: So your family had to turn it in? Did you have to take it someplace?

SO: We didn't have a shortwave then, but some people did.

KB: You did not have the FBI visit your home?

SO: No.

KB: Did your sister or your older brother, since they were older, did you notice how they reacted to this?

SO: No, I wasn't that observing, I guess, on that.

KB: You're a young boy.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

KB: How did you learn that, after Pearl Harbor, that your family would have to leave your home?

SO: Well, we found out in February. President Roosevelt issued that edict that you have to register, and they said you have to go to camp, I guess.

KB: Do you remember who in your family heard it first?

SO: No. I'm sure that my sister and my brother...

KB: Do you remember how much time you had to get ready to leave your home?

SO: About a week, maybe.

KB: Were you involved in any of the packing or making decisions of what to take?

SO: No. My mother probably packed whatever she could.

KB: Do you remember who had to go do the registering and the tags?

SO: Well, my sister or my brother did all of it.

KB: Do you remember curfew?

SO: Yeah, but I never got to stay out late anyway. [Laughs]

KB: Did it cramp your sister or brother's style there?

SO: No, I don't believe so.

KB: So your parents made the decisions about what to take and what to leave. Did you have to sell anything?

SO: (Yes), we had to sell whatever we could not take or store in the truck. We put couple, three big trunks into storage.

KB: Is that close by where you were living, the storage, do you remember?

SO: No, they were downtown.

KB: Was it someone's building that had offered to let you do that?

SO: No, it was a storage building.

KB: Okay, like a storage unit type of a deal?

SO: Yeah.

KB: Did you have to pay for that?

SO: Yeah, eventually.

KB: I hear your brother built a table and he had to sell it?

SO: Yeah, he did.

KB: How much did he have to sell it for?

SO: Five or ten dollars.

KB: Did people come to your home to buy things, or did you take it somewhere to sell it?

SO: No, somebody... I think our apartment manager wanted to... anyway, he didn't even bring it home from the school.

KB: He made it at school?

SO: Yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

KB: And do you remember how you left home with all of you to go to the assembly center?

SO: I don't know, we got there by car, but I don't know if it was a cab or...

KB: Or a friend. Do you remember having to say goodbye to your friends?

SO: Yeah. Some classmates came to the assembly center.

KB: To see you?

SO: Yeah.

KB: Did you have to talk to them through the barbed wire?

SO: Yeah, through the fences.

KB: What did that feel like?

SO: Terrible.

KB: Do you remember specific feelings as you're talking to them through there?

SO: You're happy to see them, but they were on the other side of the fence, and you were on this side.

KB: What do you remember about that assembly center other than having your friends come?

SO: It was a terrible place to be. It was smelly.

KB: Why was it all smelly?

SO: No privacy.

KB: No privacy? What did it smell like?

SO: Well, it was a horse barn, or animal... it was terrible.

KB: How did it sound?

SO: Very non-private. You can hear the next, everything, because it didn't have a roof on top, it was just partition-type.

KB: How long were you there?

SO: From May to around early September.

KB: What was the weather like?

SO: Hot and humid and terrible smell.

KB: What about the food?

SO: Well, it was just food, I guess. But the bad part was they give you... what kind of shots were there?

KB: You had mentioned maybe typhoid?

SO: Yeah, typhoid shots. You're supposed to give it in three individual units, and they gave you this typhoid shot in one dose. And so a lot of people really got sick.

KB: All at the same time?

SO: Yeah.

KB: Do you remember being sick from that?

SO: I wasn't sick, but there was a lot of people that got sick.

KB: And then there's no privacy in the restrooms.

SO: Yeah, restrooms, bathrooms.

KB: How was your health while you were there?

SO: I was terrible because I had asthma. I was a sickly kid when I was young.

KB: Did they have doctors to help you, or what did you do? What happened?

SO: Yeah, they had doctors, Japanese doctors there.

KB: Do you remember how they helped you with your asthma at all?

SO: I think I got some adrenaline shots back then. I think that was about the only thing.

KB: And you were about eleven?

SO: Yeah.

KB: So you were sick part of the time, but do you remember playing with friends, too?

SO: Yes, there's a lot of children.

KB: So there were people that you knew? Were there people that you didn't know also?

SO: Yeah, mostly I didn't know them. But the kids, they get to play. You didn't have to know them, I guess.

KB: Did you have equipment to play with, like for baseball?

SO: I think people from the outside brought in some play equipment. Because they played baseball with them.

KB: Did they play softball, too, just baseball?

SO: I think they played softball, too.

KB: Did you participate in that?

SO: No, I was too young.

KB: So what did you do with your friends when you were there?

SO: I don't know what kind of games we played. We'd find something to do.

KB: So when you got up in the morning, you kind of hung out with your friends until mealtime?

SO: Yeah.

KB: Was there anything in the meals that you really hated?

SO: [Laughs] If you're hungry, I guess you'll eat mostly everything.

KB: I've heard people talk about beef tongue and all that stuff.

SO: Yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 10>

KB: So once you were at that assembly center, and you said you were there until about September, how did you learn then that you were going to Minidoka?

SO: Well, it just gets around that you're going to be leaving to Idaho.

KB: You didn't see any signs or anything, or you just kind of went around camp and people were talking about it?

SO: Yes.

KB: So your parents didn't say to you, "We're going to another place"?

SO: Yeah, well, it gets around, talk.

KB: And when you left the assembly center to go to Minidoka, how did you get there?

SO: We got there by train.

KB: And do you remember that ride on the train?

SO: Yeah, I remember the ride, but they made you pull down all the blinds so you couldn't see outside while you're going.

KB: Do you remember how long it took you?

SO: It took a long time.

KB: And you couldn't see out, what did you do to entertain yourself on this train for that long a time?

SO: Must have played cards and games.

KB: Do you remember how your parents were feeling at that time? Did they share anything with you, how they were feeling about this?

SO: It's a new adventure, I guess, is what they said.

KB: Did they think it would be better or the same?

SO: I think it would be worse because of the weather. Hot and cold.

KB: When you got the train there, did you guys step off the train and you were at Minidoka, or did you take a train somewhere and then...

SO: I think we transferred by trucks or whatever.

KB: So the train stopped and then you had to get your belongings and have another mode of transportation?

SO: I think it was Twin Falls.

KB: And then from Twin Falls...

SO: Yeah, I think it was... see, I don't remember that much.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

KB: So now you get off however you got there, and you see Minidoka for the very first time. Do you remember how that felt?

SO: Well, there were all these barracks and blocks. They named 'em by blocks, and there were about forty blocks. Because there was about ten thousand of us in that area.

KB: How many barracks were in each block, do you remember?

SO: There was twelve barracks, six on each side. And there was a mess hall in the middle for food, so you could eat there. And there was another area where you could, bathrooms for men and women and laundry facilities in the middle of the, six barracks on each side.

KB: So each block had its own mess hall, its own laundry and bathrooms. Were the showers in with the bathrooms, or was that a separate building?

SO: No, there were bathroom and the showers, and then laundry room.

KB: One building? And when you got there, was everything complete, all the buildings?

SO: No, they weren't all complete, they were finishing up. The barracks were made out of pine and tarpaper, and they had one, there were six family units in a barrack. And there was one potstove in each room. There were small rooms on the end, and then the middle ones were a little larger for larger families, but they're not that big.

KB: And so you had a room, and your mom and dad and your brother and your sister went with you in that room. So you had cots?

SO: Yeah, we had cots, and then you had to put up partitions if we had a sister, blankets.

KB: So did you and you brother kind of share the same kind of space?

SO: Yes.

KB: And was it open at the top, or did the partition go all the way up to the ceiling?

SO: I think we had to put blankets or something to hang. And so it wasn't that much, there wasn't that much privacy.

KB: So do you remember what block you were in?

SO: I was in Block 35.

KB: Block 35. Did you have friends from Portland that were in Block 35 also?

SO: Yes. There were people from Seattle, so the Seattle blocks were the lower numbers, and the Portland were the upper numbers.

KB: So they kept Portland together and Seattle together?

SO: Yeah, more or less, yes.

KB: So when you got there, so did you guys get off of, you walk in, you've got your bags, your trunks, however it is that you have to have your items in. How were you assigned your barrack and your block? How did you know?

SO: I don't know how they did, but they must have had an office to let you know where you're supposed to go.

KB: So you had your number still, your tag on your jacket?

SO: Yeah, you had a tag.

KB: And then when you went, the first thing you did when you walked into this room, do you remember what you thought or felt?

SO: It was small and crowded, and they gave you a cot. You had to set up your own.

KB: And no other furniture other than cots?

SO: I can't remember that.

KB: Was it hot, was it cold, was it windy, was it rainy?

SO: September is pretty warm. And wintertime it gets cold.

KB: So how cold was it when you're there?

SO: Idaho is pretty cold. It gets around zero, I guess.

KB: Was your asthma still bad there?

SO: The dry weather was good for me, but not for everybody else, I guess.

KB: So windy, dusty?

SO: Yes, it's windy there. It's dusty.

KB: Did your parents say anything at all to you about how they felt?

SO: Shikata ga nai. That's their thing, "you can't help it," they said.

KB: And your sister and your brother, they were older?

SO: Yeah.

KB: So were they in high school at that time?

SO: Yeah, they were in high school.

KB: Did they talk about how they felt about it?

SO: No, but I don't... I'm sure they didn't like it because they were just starting in to high school.

KB: Do you think your experience there was different than your sisters and brothers or your mom and dad?

SO: I think so, because kids, they have playmates, eleven, twelve years old, I think the teenagers are the ones that missed out, because the high school was supposed to be your fun years.

KB: And your mom and dad?

SO: Well, they just have to bear it, I guess.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

KB: So here you are in camp, now, what's your day look like? What do you do when you get up?

SO: Get up and eat breakfast.

KB: At your mess hall?

SO: Yes. You had to go outside to go to the mess halls to eat. Food wasn't that great. Breakfast isn't so bad, but everything else, they just give the cooks what they want them to do with it, I guess.

KB: And how many meals a day did you have at the mess hall?

SO: You have three meals.

KB: You had three meals. Was it at a set time so everybody had to go at the same time?

SO: Yes.

KB: So if you missed it, you missed it.

SO: That's right. [Laughs]

KB: Were you one of the ones that went to the other mess halls because the food was better over there?

SO: [Laughs] I hear that that happened quite a bit. The cooks, I guess, in some mess halls were better, and they probably had a restaurant before.

KB: So you didn't do that?

SO: No.

KB: So you get up, you have breakfast, then what do you do?

SO: Go out and play if the weather was nice.

KB: And what kind of things did you do to play? Did you play baseball, softball?

SO: Yeah, there was a lot of baseball and softball. There was, they built the basketball court on the hard, just on the ground. On our block there was a basketball court on the side.

KB: How did they make the hoop, do you remember?

SO: No, I think the older kids did that.

KB: Were you able to play basketball, did they let you?

SO: [Laughs] At twelve years old, I don't think I got to play that much.

KB: Did you go to the swimming hole?

SO: Yes, I did. They did build a swimming pool. From the canal they diverted into a pool.

KB: So you could spend some time there, you knew how to swim so you were...

SO: Learned how to swim.

KB: Learned how to swim there. Did you check in with Mom and Dad or were you just gone pretty much all day and came back when it was time for dinner?

SO: That's about it. [Laughs]

KB: Did you make new friends?

SO: Yes.

KB: Were they friends the rest of your life?

SO: Well, everybody went different ways afterwards. A few of them, yes.

KB: So what did your mom and dad do while they were in camp?

SO: I guess my dad helped at the kitchen. My mom, she didn't do a lot. She didn't work or anything.

KB: Did she do things with the other women there?

SO: Yeah, she got to have friends there, too.

KB: Did she participate in ikebana or any of the art shows?

SO: No, she wasn't that talented that way.

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

<Begin Segment 13>

KB: Do you remember any events or anything that happened during that time like dances or contests?

SO: Yes. The highschoolers or that age group, they had dances.

KB: Did they just have records set up to play or did they have live music?

SO: They had a band, I guess, Minidoka band, and they would play at the dances.

KB: Did you get to go to them at all?

SO: No, I was too young. [Laughs]

KB: I've heard that they've had Christmas decorating contests, do you remember that?

SO: In the blocks?

KB: Yeah. Did you help with that any?

SO: No.

KB: What's your main memory of Minidoka?

SO: Playing sports, I guess. At that age, played softball. I was fifteen, so I didn't play baseball, I just played softball.

KB: You went to school while you were there?

SO: Yeah. I was in the sixth grade when I was in Minidoka. When I came out in '45 I was a freshman.

KB: What do you remember about school in Minidoka?

SO: Well, we had teachers from the outside.

KB: Did you not have any Japanese American teachers at all?

SO: I never had one.

KB: You had teachers that came in. Did you have textbooks and books?

SO: Yeah, they were donated, I'm sure.

KB: Desks and all of that?

SO: Yes.

KB: Where was the school?

SO: In a barrack, they converted barracks into schools.

KB: It wasn't in your block, though, you had to walk to it?

SO: Yeah, they built in the barracks, you know, in Block 32 I think it was, they remodeled it, or I mean, they converted it into a grade school there, and there was one high school down further, I don't know which block it was.

KB: So you went from Block 35 to 32. It wasn't too far then.

SO: No, not that far.

KB: Well, how was it walking that far, though, in the weather?

SO: Bad weather, yeah. It's cold.

KB: Was it muddy?

SO: Yeah, muddy. Yeah, when we first got there, it was all, when it rained, boy, it was really muddy. Later on they built it up so that you can have walkways, paths, you know.

KB: Who built it up?

SO: People that were living.

KB: Did they use, what did they use to cover that mud to walk on?

SO: Well, I think they got some gravel that could build a pathway.

KB: Do you remember any of the gardening at all? There was a root cellar, do you remember that at all?

SO: Not me. The other people were farmers, I guess, they're the ones that did the gardening. They raised the vegetables and stuff.

KB: Were you a Boy Scout?

SO: I became a Boy Scout, yes, when I turned twelve.

KB: So you were in camp and became a Boy Scout? Do you remember your troop?

SO: 123.

KB: What did you do as a Boy Scout in camp?

SO: The usual. [Laughs]

KB: Did you earn badges?

SO: Yeah, you earned badges when you're first, I can't remember, second class, first class, and then Eagle. But I never got to Eagle; I was out (of comp.).

KB: Did you have meetings, like, once a week?

SO: I don't know if it was once a week, but they did have meetings.

KB: And somebody just volunteered to be the leader?

SO: Well, they had a Troop 123 in Portland, and they (revived) it in camp. They had people, Scouts type of, Eagle Scouts.

KB: In camp? Nobody came from outside to lead it or anything.

SO: No.

KB: And you had a uniform, a Boy Scout uniform?

SO: Yeah, I guess I got a shirt.

KB: Where'd you get it from, do you remember?

SO: No, I think we got it through the mail.

KB: So you could get items from outside?

SO: Yeah. Lot of catalogs, Sears and Montgomery, they must have really (done well).

KB: So you could order from that and then they would ship it to Minidoka for you?

SO: Yeah.

KB: So what was your overall feeling about camp?

SO: For kids like me, it was, you had a lot of playmates.

KB: Did you think about at all why you were there, or the reason why you were there?

SO: Well, I knew we were at war, so you just go with the flow, I guess.

KB: And your mom and dad didn't say anything about why they thought you were all there, or any feelings about that?

SO: I'm sure they didn't want to be there.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

KB: So the war is finally over, and you and your family get to leave Minidoka. So do you remember hearing about that day?

SO: Oh, yeah. Everybody heard about that day.

KB: And what was the message that everybody heard?

SO: They were really happy.

KB: Were you worried at all about where you might now go? Were you thinking about going back to the same place?

SO: Yeah, there was a worry on that, because we didn't have a place to really go back to Portland.

KB: Do you remember your family making the decision to go back to Portland?

SO: I think that's about all we knew was to go back there.

KB: So your family didn't have any... your dad didn't have a job lined up or anything like that?

SO: No, he didn't.

KB: So it's that last day in Minidoka. Do you remember what was going on, all the activity that was happening, what was going on?

SO: Yeah, we were one of the families that were left. Lot of 'em took off earlier because they had a place to go back to. But we got invited by the Tsuboi family. My mother, I guess, was very good friends with them.

KB: And they invited you to...

SO: Yeah, they had a house, I guess.

KB: So you guys were going to live with the family?

SO: Yeah, 'til we can get located.

KB: And they were in Portland?

SO: Yeah.

KB: Do you remember the journey home from Minidoka?

SO: No, I really don't remember the journey home.

KB: You remember the journey there, though, right?

SO: Yeah, I remember that.

KB: But not home. Do you remember that feeling of maybe, free and leaving?

SO: Yeah. But then there's... you didn't know what's going on in the future.

KB: So some uncertainty?

SO: Yes.

KB: So when you get to Portland, did you go by train again?

SO: Yes. They gave you a pass or whatever to get back to wherever you're going, I guess.

KB: So each family member received a pass to go home, or to go back? Do you remember when you got to Portland, how that felt or what your first impression was, had it changed?

SO: Sure, in three years, I guess, it did change. But I'd never been out in the southeast before. It was a big change, because they had a house in the Southeast Gladstone, I think.

KB: Did they meet you at the train station and take your family there?

SO: I can't remember that journey.

KB: You talked about storing items in a storage unit when you left. Were those items still there when you returned?

SO: We didn't pick them up right away, we waited until we were settled more.

KB: But they were there. So your first day when you returned back to Portland, did you have your own room in the house, did you have to share?

SO: We shared a couple of rooms. They had just had Mr. and Mrs. Tsuboi, it was just the two of them.

KB: So it was your brother, Terry, and your sister, and you and your mom and dad living in the home?

SO: I don't know if my brother, I think he stayed at the church when he came back a little earlier, a month or... to go to high school. He had about a year and a half to go.

KB: So Terry left Minidoka earlier than the rest of the family?

SO: Yeah. And he stayed at the Epworth Methodist Church.

KB: Did he live there?

SO: Yeah, he lived there for a little while.

KB: At the church itself?

SO: Yeah.

KB: And that was... the reason he came back early was...

SO: To start the high school. You can't miss out that much.

KB: What high school did he end up going to?

SO: Lincoln High School.

KB: Is that the one that's downtown in the Portland State area?

SO: Portland State.

KB: So he lived at the Epworth, did you get to see him very much?

SO: No, I didn't.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

KB: So then it was just you, your sister, and your mom and dad living with the family.

SO: Yeah.

KB: And then after that, do you remember how long you lived there?

SO: Maybe six months or so, I can't remember when we moved downtown.

KB: So you moved back to...

SO: We stayed in the Park Apartments for quite a few years.

KB: Do you remember where those were?

SO: Where?

KB: Yeah.

SO: It was on Glisan Street (...) and Park.

KB: And so you moved, your family moved to the apartments. Was Dad working at that time?

SO: I think he worked at the restaurants as a helper.

KB: Do you remember what restaurants?

SO: No, I think it was on Eighty-second. I don't remember.

KB: So he got a job pretty soon after you returned? And then Mom, what was Mom doing at this time?

SO: She was, she worked in a laundry, ironing.

KB: And where was that? Was that close to where you lived?

SO: Yeah. It was downtown on First or Second Avenue Southwest.

KB: And then you were starting high school?

SO: Yeah, I started high school, Franklin High School, when I came back because I was a freshman. They let me continue. I was a little bit late, because it was after, middle of September, I was a week or two late, but I was okay.

KB: And because you were living off of Gladstone Southeast, you started there at Franklin.

SO: Then my... three other years I went to Washington High School (...). I was in Northeast Portland for about six months or so. That's when I started Washington High School and when I moved downtown to Park Apartments, I still went to Washington for three years.

KB: So you could finish your high school at Washington.

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

<Begin Segment 16>

KB: What was it like coming back from Minidoka and entering high school?

SO: It was... well, I was the only Japanese there.

KB: At Franklin?

SO: Yeah.

KB: In the entire school?

SO: First one, yeah.

KB: Wow. How'd that feel?

SO: There was one teacher that was prejudiced.

KB: How did that happen, what happened?

SO: I don't know, she was an English teacher I remember.

KB: Did you feel treated differently?

SO: Yeah.

KB: Anything specific?

SO: No, but I got my worst grade in high school there. [Laughs]

KB: And you put the work in? How would you describe yourself as a high school student?

SO: Well, I'm an honors student.

KB: So that was a surprise to get that grade then, I would imagine.

SO: Yeah. Because I was late in getting into math, but I got an A because math was easy for me.

KB: Were you happy to go to the other school at Washington, then? Were you happy to transfer?

SO: Yeah, in that respect. Just one teacher, all the rest were...

KB: Kids were good?

SO: were good, yeah. Had a couple of good friends there.

KB: At Franklin?

SO: Yeah, they treated me very well.

KB: When you went to Washington... it was Washington, right?

SO: Yes.

KB: And were you still the only Japanese American?

SO: No, no, there were other Asians, a lot of Chinese kids there, too.

KB: So was it a different feel for you at Washington than it was at Franklin?

SO: Yes.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

KB: Did your parents experience any prejudice that you know of when they came back?

SO: Well, I suppose so, job-wise. I don't really recall, because they were not professionals, so they had a hard time.

KB: How about your sister? Was she working at that time? Did she finish high school at Minidoka?

SO: Yeah, she's (four) years older, so I think she finished there. And she went to work for either the library or Macy's now, it was Meier & Frank as a seamstress.

KB: So she worked at Meier & Frank as a seamstress?

SO: I think so, yeah.

KB: Did she ever say anything about feeling any prejudice at all?

SO: No, she had her friends.

KB: Went to work, had her friends and then came home? Did you and your family participate in any of the Japanese American organizations or community churches, anything like that?

SO: Yeah, my mother went to, she was a churchgoing, she went to a Buddhist church.

KB: Where was the Buddhist church?

SO: The one she went to was in Milwaukee.

KB: Do you remember how she got there?

SO: She had friends that picked her up.

KB: Was she the only one in the family that went?

SO: Yeah.

KB: Did you join any organizations at all after you came home, or were you still young...

SO: I went to the Oregon Buddhist Church when I was a teenager.

KB: And did you have friends there and participate in...

SO: Yeah, I had good friends.

KB: Did you participate in the activities that they did and things like that?

SO: Yeah, and we played basketball for the Buddhist church.

KB: Were your neighbors at all prejudiced, did you feel that at all?

SO: No, not right away. Well, the Park Apartments was owned by Japanese, or leased by Japanese.

KB: And were there lots of Japanese Americans living there?

SO: A few families, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

KB: And then you, your parents leased Camp Hotel?

SO: Yeah, in '47, I believe. 1947, we leased the Camp Hotel, and we ran the hotel for many years.

KB: And where was that?

SO: Third and Burnside.

KB: So tell me a little bit about how that worked. What were your mom and dad doing at the hotel?

SO: Well, they were the ones that cleaned it and took care of it.

KB: Who did you rent to, do you know?

SO: At first it was a lot of bachelors, I guess, rented it to the bachelors.

KB: And would it be for a week long or a day?

SO: Some were a week, and then mostly daily.

KB: And what did you... did you help at all?

SO: Sorry to say, I didn't. [Laughs]

KB: Did you live there at the same time?

SO: Yeah.

KB: So explain to me what this building look like. Where did you live, what did the rooms look like?

SO: They're just one-bedroom, one room with... they had a sink for water and things, but the bathroom was, it's a two-floor building, so a bathroom on each floor with a tub on each floor.

KB: And where did your family live?

SO: We lived on the second floor. The bottom floor was retail. There was a drugstore underneath.

KB: So you lived up in a room, like somebody could come rent it. Did you have one room, two rooms?

SO: We had about four rooms, 'cause we had a kitchen and another room, and we had two bedrooms. Had a living room and a sitting room.

KB: And so your mom and dad pretty much did all of it?

SO: Yeah.

KB: Did they hire people to help them at all?

SO: No. They did it all themselves.

KB: How long did they have the hotel?

SO: I think about seven years or ten years.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

KB: Did you start to join different organizations like bowling teams and different things like that?

SO: Yeah, bowling teams are around '51, '50. I started bowling at Eastside Bowling Alley, then I stopped for going to college. I graduated high school in '49, so I went to Vanport College in, '49, '50, and '50, '51. And then I transferred to Oregon State in pre-pharmacy in '51, '52. I stayed out of college for two years, and then went back and finished and graduated in 1956, I got my pharmacy degree.

KB: When you were at Vanport, were you studying to be a pharmacist at that time?

SO: Yes, pre-pharmacy. You take your science courses.

KB: And why did you decide to become a pharmacist?

SO: Because I was a sickly person, and I was young, so my mom said I should go into some kind of medical field. So that's what I did.

KB: Did your mom get to see you become a pharmacist?

SO: No.

KB: But she encouraged you, she supported you to become one.

SO: Yeah.

KB: Where did you work after you got your degree?

SO: I had internship every year at the Plummer Drug and the Apothecary, which is a drugstore.

KB: In Portland?

SO: In Portland, (yes). Then I got registered, and I worked at the Medical Arts Pharmacy, Payless Drugs on Broadway and Washington, and then worked for Alameda Pharmacy which was on Twenty-third and Fremont, I believe. And they moved to Lloyd Center and became the Lloyd Center Pharmacy in 1960 when Lloyd Center opened up. But then I decided that was going to... I went up to Anchorage, Alaska, because my brother-in-law was going to build a medical building. He was thinking of building a medical center in Anchorage, Alaska, so I moved up there. But it didn't pan out, and so I came back to Portland. And the pharmacist at Apothecary had wanted to buy another drugstore, so he wanted me to come back and manage the store. So that's when I went into partnership, and we bought the Nolan Rexall Drug. And I was there for about thirty-five years.

KB: And were you, when you talk about a partnership, did you do most of the work or did you... kind of a silent partner?

SO: Yeah. I did, (yes), I was the pharmacist in charge there, and then I bought him out in about five years or ten years.

KB: That's a long time, thirty-five years.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

KB: So you talk about moving to Anchorage with your wife, May, and working with your brother-in-law. So let's go back a little bit and tell me, how did you and May meet?

SO: Oh, well, let's see. She had a, her mother had a laundry, Wong's Laundry, next to, let's see, a pool parlor, Bud's Pool Parlor. I used to go over to Bud's to shoot pool back in '49, 1949. And she was next door, so I got to meet her.

KB: Did you meet her at the pool hall or did you see her before?

SO: I've seen her before. Well, she was ironing and pressing next door.

KB: Caught a glimpse of her working?

SO: Yeah. And let's see... yeah, I had a friend, Bobby Chan, I guess, and he had a car, his parents had a car. So I asked her to go out to play golf. What kind of golf was that?

KB: Like putt-putt or miniature?

SO: Miniature golf, yeah. So we'd go miniature golfing once in a while.

KB: How old were you?

SO: I think I was eighteen or nineteen.

KB: Was she the same age?

SO: She's a year younger than I am.

KB: So she was seventeen when you spotted her ironing? [Laughs]

SO: [Laughs] Anyway...

KB: Did she come over to the pool hall, too, or did you walk in the laundry to meet her?

SO: Yeah. I met her there.

KB: At the pool hall?

SO: No, no.

KB: At the laundry?

SO: I would go to the pool hall. A lot of the guys would go to the pool hall because we'd gather there to play softball or baseball, that's their gathering place.

KB: Afterwards?

SO: Well, before.

KB: So you walked into the laundry, introduced yourself?

SO: I wonder if I met her before. Can't remember. And I knew she was there.

KB: So how long did it take before you got married? How long did you date?

SO: A long time. I didn't... I went off to college in '51, to Oregon State, so I didn't see her for a while. I think she went to Oregon for a year. And I stayed out of college for two years, and then I went back to Oregon State to finish up. And she ended up at Oregon State, so we renewed friendship, and then I graduated in '56, and we got married in '58, 'cause she graduated in '57.

KB: You knew each other a long time.

SO: Yeah, we knew each other.

KB: And what is her name and where is she from?

SO: She's May Wong, and she's... well, she was born and raised in the U.S. also.

KB: In Portland?

SO: In Portland, yeah.

KB: And you got married...

SO: In June 1958.

KB: You just had your anniversary.

SO: Yes, we did. Fifty-six years.

KB: What did your parents think about the marriage, you being Japanese American and she being Chinese?

SO: My dad was the only one that was living. I told my sister and she said it was fine.

KB: Your dad, what did he say?

SO: He doesn't say much. [Laughs] But he was there for my wedding.

KB: Did her parents say anything? Her mom... would it have been her mother?

SO: Her mother? Yeah. Her older sister had married a Japanese, so it wasn't... and she doesn't, she doesn't have any animosity. She was happy, and she came, she was at the wedding, too.

KB: Did you experience any animosity or prejudice from anyone at all when you were... not just family, but other people?

SO: No.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

KB: So you were married in '58 and you had children. Can you tell me about your children?

SO: I had children, Serena, the oldest one was born in '59. And I think the other one was 1960, that's Lynn. We were in Anchorage, so she's an Anchorage, Alaskan baby. Nobody knows that. Yeah, and then Teal was born before Lynn. Teal was born in '60, and Lynn was born in Alaska in '61, I believe. And when we came back in 1965, I had Sherie, she's the youngest.

KB: And you liked the name Lynn.

SO: Yeah, three of 'em.

KB: You have Teal Lyn, Lynn Denise, and Sherie Lynne, and "Lynn" is spelled different each time. Is there any significance to that?

SO: No, I just thought I would use Lynn, but different spelling.

KB: And when you were in Alaska, you said that you came back. Why did you come back?

SO: Because Teal got real sick up there, I think she was allergic to Alaskan dust or volcanic dust or whatever. She almost passed away. She was unconscious for about three days. And at that time, Anchorage only had one pediatrician, and they only had about half a dozen doctors. So we decided it would be safer to be back in Portland.

KB: So tell me a little bit about your family life. What did you guys do? Did you do trips?

SO: Our trips, vacation was to the beach, usually. It was real hard for me to get away from the pharmacy when we started up.

KB: Working long hours?

SO: Yeah, long hours.

KB: What have you shared with your family about the wartime experience at Minidoka and the assembly center?

SO: Really I haven't talked about it until this year. They wanted to quiz me for my, all my history or whatever, and they did get it out of me, because you have a copy there.

KB: Did there, was there a reason that now, that they were asking the questions more than before?

SO: Yeah, they wanted to make sure they had a record of it.

KB: And were they the ones that interviewed you, your daughters?

SO: Yeah, three of them. Or four of them.

KB: They all did?

SO: Yeah.

KB: Did that bring up a lot of different memories for you?

SO: Yes.

KB: How did your wartime experience affect your sense of being Japanese American?

SO: Well, I was proud about it, because of the 442nd. They had a good record.

KB: How do you think that wartime experience affected your parents?

SO: I think it affected them with... they were getting older now.

KB: And they never talked about it after it was over?

SO: They never... yeah. And I haven't talked about it either until they asked me all these questions.

KB: Did it change you, the experience?

SO: I don't think it changed me. Probably bothered me inside.

KB: But it didn't, you don't feel like it made you a different person or made you look at life differently?

SO: Yeah, that anything can happen to you. You don't know the future, that's for sure.

KB: What do you think other people can learn from the experience that the Japanese Americans went through during World War II?

SO: Well, that it shouldn't happen again. It almost did in the... incident, you know.

KB: 9/11.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

KB: So you have grandchildren?

SO: Oh, yes, I have grandchildren. I have seven grandchildren, two grandsons and five grand... girls.

KB: And do they know of what you lived through?

SO: They do now.

KB: How old is the oldest?

SO: Oldest is fifty...

KB: Your grandchildren. Who's your oldest grandchild?

SO: Oh, oldest grandchild? She's twenty-four and married. She went to UCLA and graduated in four years and got married the year she graduated, she got married in August.

KB: And are they getting to hear the interview that your daughters are doing with you?

SO: They probably will get a copy of it.

KB: Have you ever spoken to your grandchildren about your experience?

SO: Oh, yes. I had two grandchildren that interviewed me and wrote about this internment.

KB: Were they surprised that you had experienced this? Did they know anything about it before?

SO: No. They were both in California in the same family.

KB: And they were, how did they react when you shared this story?

SO: Oh, they were... they got good grades, so I guess they enjoyed it.

KB: And what's important to you in life?

SO: To see the grandchildren grow up and become somebody.

KB: And you mentioned earlier that you wanted, you wished that redress had been earlier.

SO: Yes.

KB: Why do you wish that?

SO: For the parents and older people that passed away already, 'cause it was quite a few years. Let's see, 1980, so it's thirty years or forty years, almost.

KB: Your parents weren't alive at that time of redress?

SO: No.

KB: Did your parents become citizens?

SO: No, they did not. May's mother became a... she's Chinese and she became a citizen.

KB: Did your parents choose not to or did something... it just went by.

SO: Yeah, I don't think they realized that they could.

KB: So is there anything else that you would like to share with us or say or leave us with a message or anything?

SO: I just hope it comes out okay. [Laughs]

KB: It's going to come out great.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2014 Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Densho. All Rights Reserved.