Interview with Frank Kamiya, May 24, 1979

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Interview with Frank Kamiya, May 24, 1979
Kamiya, Frank ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Palm Beach County Oral History Collection ( local )
Spatial Coverage:
Palm Beach (Fla.) -- History.


This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Palm Beach' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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Subject: Frank Kamiya

Int: Bernie Ward


Lake Worth, Florida

Page 1

B: Saeei-?

F: Jay-Saci- and our family were related. In other words, Jay Sacci was/Imy father's


B: O.K. In.....'., I talked to Henry about this but I'm not sure yet, why was there

"Va difference in the names and was that because of family... -,:,?

F: );.,..'Vell the -Sa-emni family over theretthev had no aires as far as-asres

to carry on their name and they wanted someone o to carry on their name. So

aX Re the Saeon family adopted my 1m father. I don't know how they work

4he adoption rules and all that but....

B: That was still in Japant, .14\g)'
( r" \;
F: Yeah. He was adopted by WS^Zeemni-so that his name could be carried on.

B: O.K. --.-; we whatAcan you tell me about Joseph Sae&i? Everything that all

the newspaper clippings and the people I've talked to and the records that I

can find kinda indicate that he was one-vf-tht..; he'-was the founder of Yamato

and one of the main leaders that brought everybody here. Do you know much

about him?

F: h....welyu.: h I guess he.... and..... my dad's fam.... well my4...

family was more or less A the people more or less looked up to him andst ey

were)I guess you might say they were more or less like leaders of A colony like.

B: Mmn hmm.

F: They all expected rJW Joe Saeeeand my dad's opinions and such.

PBC 3A -2-

B: fa- -udid-yourT;.-. Was your father educated in New York or was that

just Joseph Saee-? Did he come to college here?

F: Oh my dad didn't, no.

B: But Saeei did?

F: Yeah, mmm hmm.

B: And do you know 'Ba o---do.U-- how he made the contact, how did Saeei manage

to get to Florida and make the contact down here and how thatjdeveloped?

F: Well I don't know how thel direct contact with me as far as between hEim. him

and Pin-\J or whether e did make the contact or not. '.. I only got

the general idea of what was going on as far as what wasge n-and-as=-fam=as

the way theft explain things. lhj,/ \\c-\t g got this group together and says

4t what he would bring them down here if they homestead the land tS-ter..-.j they

could keep it. IW4V/41finr homestead andJlraisepineapple ,

B: Mmm hmm.

F: That's what... that was the purpose of coming down here, the section they made

the4e& all the Japanese people. But)x. practicallyy right off the bat the
pineapple tB didn't produce. I mean the soil was no good for it. And so u

they thNy. started out branching off into J/ farming. And so &.--,.

well pK farming wadn't too popular either. In other words, if you hit once

in ten years well you were doing good. And so the th majority of the Vi. colony

there were just gradually branched off into New York and California and other

parts of the United States.

B: Did some people go back to Japan?

F: A few did yeah. You *, i well after the i died we-1 p all of his daughters

went back. There were five of them.

B: .4e \all went back, huh?

PBC 3A -3-

F: Mnm hmm.

B: Well where ;twhrtei was your family from? Where was your father 4R Sacci from

in Japan?

F: Uh K oto

B: O.K. DU1 most of the people that came to Yamato were from K/oto, weren't they?

F: No not dotAni necessarily, no.

B: Oh weren't they?

F: No. They were from all over different parts. And id'....... Let me see what else

you might want to know.

B: Well how did ...'?iowvd d% they go about getting people here? What what did they

do as far as bringing people over from Japan ya know?

F: Gh\hell ya-2io all these people were already in the United States as far as that


B: Oh they were?

F: Yeah, mmm hmm.

B: Oh I thought most of them had eame from Japan just....'.

F: Not directly from Japan to the Colony, no.

B: Oh they didn't?

F: No.

B: Well where.... for instance, where was your father?

F: Uh he was in New York.

B: Oh he was?

F: /if.-:.aiad-ui ell with his brother Sacci.

B: Oh. ,"Ho bout did some people come from :the West Coast from California or Oregon

and... ?

F: Yeah, the West Coast. Yeah.

U Kv, (>LGt.,

W ~< L (/ v

PBC 3A -4-

B: Did they? What did they do, do you know? Did they advertise for people to

come or?

F: Well that's why I say I mean I can't pin it down that closely.

B: Uh huh. How bout is Oi Do you know anything about him?

F: Nnnnno I didn't.... No I don't remember him.

B: He seem a7 his name keeps coming up in some of these different clippings that I've

get--an along with Joseph Sai. It kinda soundflike they 99 were working

together on the thing. (Pause)

F: It's hard to think about.... V I fe you about the mendfr-nAi getting together

on t1e5oni-th--b .. the pool and playing cards and this stuff. The women more

or less well I guess you'd call it a gossip session. But there's three major

groups, .,three -t-4ee different women usually./ I don't know ijfPit was by plan

or what but tPh practically every ipAunday/we would have iuh more or less like

a buffet style Japanese dinner for anybody that wanted to come.

B: Would it be at your place all the time?

F: hto3 hu uh. Like I said)practically between the three three differentjfomen.

,My mother and the 4ao.sli and the y ,,.r : Then they would i4 do each

others hair and stuff like that.

B: Well did they try to/fmaintain any Japanese lAtraditions or customs very much or

was it pj9t....?

F: Well they the women) p. :.;..;..: they stuck to the Japanese language. In other

words, even when they were talking to the kids they taiy spoke in Japanese but ,0

the kids ... all of us kids would talk back to em in English.

B: Of course then the men, since they were out working more they probably used

English more too.

PBC 3A -5-

F: Yeah, hmm hmm. Yeah.

B: Were there very many women?

F: No hu uh. Kbashi finally got married and Kay Kebiashi got married.

Yafttehi was one of the originals that was married in our family in Seei family.

In fact uh that's about the whole deal as far as ,- -r ,'".,,,

B: Well now that's another thing too. Were,'tthe majority of the people bachelors

when they came here?

F: Yeah. 'E the /0o - family... 4,, where is that I saw him somewhere. Well

somewhere you've got )n4 -t, anyhow andl oh yeah) the Yoshita family.

Well that he .he .e he on got married too. This is about the time they werecaA\
leaving, around twenty-three.

B: Hmmm.

F: Twenty-two, twenty=one. Because I don't think they.... When the boom started

there .wadm- too many of em around thet. Maybe sixtyseventy was about all

that was left.

B: Well the boom was what the mid-twenties?

F: Yeah, mmm hmm.

B: Yeah.

F: That's when my dad...., As soon as the boom startedmy dad went into real estate

business and boy) he was having a ball.

B: He was already here. (chuckle) Well established.

F: And i well when it was all over he had the papers to the Chroma Cassel building

in Miami. You wouldn't know anything about this. Now t\well I don't mean
)LbS 50j
what is it now but iL'in Li1 I know in the early feties and fifties athit was

the t* Richards Department Store that was on First and,I think Lime Avenue.

B: Oh right downtown there.

PBC 3A -6-

F: Yeah but the papers didn't mean a thing after the boom was over.

B: Uh huh.

F: Nobody knew anything. As far as education was concerned, ,they hadl\ukso called

one room school house and the first through the eighth grade and 0h I guess the, c

.'*QOU-. the largest amount of pupils that was in there at one time was I would

say about twenty-five people.

B: Do you remember it4 a teacher named Bly Davis?

F: Yeah.

B: I I went to see herg a few weeks ago.

F: Is she still around?

B: Yeah she lives right off of .... r,-

F: Is that her... Is that her name now?

B: No. Smith is her last name now, Bly Davis Smith. But she said that she was the
:' YCeOA ) k \\L-, \k 5 '* &, I,
last teacherAthere and then she started driving back and forth from Boca.

F: Yeah, a. ,

B: Yeah shelz right off ... just a block or two off Lake Worth Koad/and Congress Q.-

right over in that area.

F: Well I'll be damned. I'd like 1ad lkEto get in contact with her.

B: Yeah,heJs: ,She's in the phone book, Bly Davis Smith. I can give you her

number. I don't know whether I've got it here or notbut....

F: Well....i

B: She gave me a couple of pictures. One of them was the last.... You're probably

in it. I don't know whe...,,When....^ How old are you?

F: Sixty-four.

B: So you're.... Let's see) you're....

PBC 3A -7-

F: YeahE-as. I was in th r last class.

B: Well she had a picture of it. Of the group.

F: Un the first teacher, if I remember right,was Mr. Gould. The guy that went

on that expedition with ih C(oAow_ 'L

B: Yeah I got.... c I wrote him too.

F: Is he still alive?

B: Yeah. He's in 1h....k Let's see if I brought these letters. I don't think I

did. He's in h ....

F: In .i ....

B: Phoenix.
F: -Ms Monroe was another teacher and Clementine Brown.

B: Remember that name.

F: And 't I guess Bly Davis.

B1 Well I didn't bring his letter I guess. But he wrote back just the other day,

just last week and said that he had only been there for a year and he really didn't

remember too much about it, and v'h he didn't keep any records or diaries or anything

so he couldn't -he coul.ri!t- help too much but i ....

F: Yeah. Well gosh he must be close to eighty.

B: I guess I didn't bring his letter. Uh... here's something you might.... I wrote

ya know the t.... A couple of these newspaper clippings talk about the pJ^ tfie'

SYamato Colony Association that they had Association pepper papers were incor-

poration papers. And I wrote the Secretary of State for anything about Yamato

Colony Association, Yamato Holding Company. The don't have anything on the

Colony. This one A- was your father's corporation papers in 19-. 25.

And that was for Yamato Holding Company. But they didn't have anything earlier

than that. (Pause)

PBC 3A -8-

F: That that was my older brother.

(tape cuts off)

B: ..... the day, yeah. And your father had been here right from the beginning?

F: Mmm hmmn. Yeah.

B: And he came from New York?

F: Yeah.

B: To live. How many.... Do you ever... know about how many people, Japanese people)

were there the most at any one time?

F: Well that was in the very beginning and fromivhat I understand there were between
/O0 -,1
a huned-- nded-weh -fve.

B: That.... And then this is the only names that I can find. Just seemed like that

there.... They just disappeared.

F: Uh....

B: They had all those people and you just come down with just a few names. It's


F: Yeah,'*, ,. I gave -I... I was given th ...,., What's hhts that guys name

down there?

B: At the museum?

F: Yeah.

7 B: Larry RosesdrJ ?

F: Yeah. I gave him quite a few names.

B: Oh did ya?

F: Yeah. I don't know whether he took em down or not. My sister was there at

the same time andEi,, she kinda uh she wonder where in the heck I remembered

those names. Or was I just making them up or something,Ya know like t-I wasn't

supposed to know these names. But lSf as far as those names are concerned, ya know

PBC 3A -9-

F: more ya iq1Nka talkinithe more names thatco6mes up ya know.

B: Yeah, yeah. I suppose especially if you're talking with like your sister

or somebody because you help each other remember things.

F: Well she would quiz me like "'/ell how do youlknow that,' ya know and stuff like

that. Well it li just it seems like I can remember things like thatFven though)

well like cu Mr. Gould now. 'Uh He heihe was the first one as a teacher there and

I If .... i.i It was the year before I got started in school. So my sister wanted

to know how I remembered the name. And it had never come up3 ya know in our


B: Yeah.

F: But #&i it just-pa ed out just like that.

B: You got a good memory then.

F: Well usually... f Well now days I mean ,i in the last thirty years, twenty-five

or thiry years well I've never been able to remember names that well of people

that were introduced to me. I've .... My line of work welli.,J-.p it isn't actually

necessary to know names. I 1 I was chef by trade until this thing happened and

fii.Y ya don't usuallystart calling people by name, when you're working right cooni

dp side of the guy so it... it isn't necessary to,,, ya know to call em by name

all the time. So ., ,. as far as religion was concerned, everybody went

to the Methodist church. I mean where the.... l r*. ..; Well it was just more

or less like automatic that that we went to this particular church although

""h there were other other churches around.

B'Y AThere wasn't any any attempt to.r.'-'to maintain any Buddhism?

F: Oh no, no.

B: At all? Nothing like that?

PBC 3A -10-

F: The -oldes-people at that timewell they didn'tAgo to church and it was the

younger kids that.... Well I don't know E they asked em to go or what but

it's just like

B: So most of the parents and the oldcpeople didn't go to church then,

it was mostly the kids?

F: No, uh uh.

B: O.K. NSI, i you kind of have a feeling that the people who came from Japan,

did they just put all that behind them and just start a new life here or is....?

Ya know a couple of people kind of compared it to_,,.,. ya knowthe the English

settlers who came here right at first. They just put England behind em and

became... c established a new country. Was that kind of the feeling with the

Yamato people?

F: Well ya know with me i^s I never did understand Japanese people anyhow.

B: Ohtreally? f-weuse you're an American.

F: I mean they fheybiqt .... Yeah. AThey seemed to hide things from me ya know.

I don't know whether you know or not but th:ythey.they didn't come out with their

true feelings always. That'sithe way I t' about em anyhow. Ya know like .s -

TIlTR-we-TT1'\-we likes to play pranks on each other or come up with a joke of
some kind and they don't.. well they4not actually didn't accept it or or they

just sort of resented it. Except they made-e-.... There were a few who 'iho, iho

could carry on a bunch of pranks and jokes too but as a whole they weren't that way.

I mean they were usually serious minded. And -.-. soVli being serious minded,

I guess %t is one reason they were hard to understand. And the fact that they

couldn't speak very well t made it that much worseya know.

B: Mmm hmm.

PBC 3A -11-

F: hand you often times misinterpreted what they were trying to say.

B: Well did uh.... Most of the older people then that were here at first, did

they stay pretty much to themselves, didn't get out and mix around too much?

F: h yeah you might say most of them. -f-faet, actually) the only one

that ya know. went out like during the d. ui*uring-the. :h boom the only one

that actually went out and ya know traveled between usually between West

Palm and Miami and and trying to carry on business was my dad. Andjthe only

reason these others more or less i come in contact with th other people were

because uh they were 'their ': farm products. And i1i that wasn't until the

later years A becauselotherwise everybody was bringing all their stuff to the

packing house and they were selling it right there at the packing house.

B: Well by the time that you were old enough tj the pineapples were all gone then

weren't they? Pretty much..... I mean only the big crop.

F: Yeah, yeah. We had a few acres, that's about.... We and the had

a few acres but uh in other words, we might of had three or four acres and

the '_ t_ had maybe a couple acres but th that was about all.

B: Well in general, about how big were the farms? Were they very big farms?

F: 0h Probably the average'group they only had maybe h'six:...-. six to ten acres

and the and ourselves......... well it's hard to say how much.

I would say within...... between fifty and a hundred acres but it was so spread

out that it was kinda hard to pin down.

B: It wouldn't be like a farm where you live right on the farm and uh....?

F: No. We farm out west of Delray and ih east th of the/Federal Highway between

Delray and Boca Raton and then on right west of Yamato and west of Boca Raton and

___had some farm on the east of Boca Raton between the Federal highway

and the East Coast Canal. I mean it was so scattered out that it was... hard to


PBC 3A -12-

B: Uh....'

F: Of course everybody had sharecroppers..

B: Well that's another thing I wanted to ask you about. Were most of these, were

they black sharecroppers that you usually had?

F: Yeah, u\ KA\ ,

B: There was one.....,t Somebody sent me a picture from.... oh boy I don't know

where they were from now, California? Anyway, I took em down there to the

museum cause they were gonna get em reproduced for me but if I guess I don't

have that letter but there were two of the original Japanese people here and

then they had two black men with them that apparently were sharecroppers and

I ... we couldn't identify who they were. U.... ell I don't have it.... here

I guess. I've got stuff spread out all over.

F: What th....?

B: But ..... can't even remember now the names of the people that gave me the


F: With Japanese names it's hard to remember anyways.

B: Well let me see. I've been going through so many of them.

F: Yeah and as for me see I..... it's ... I never stayvin contact with Japanese people

anyhow Wh-:uh.... well to even uth.-.eynv after I got out of high school. I never

tried to keep track of Japanese people. Ya know after all, I associated with\4lIp -

the everyday people out there.

B: Well there are not too many Japanese people around)especially from Yamato anymore.

F: Well uh- .;.welt like the -- -< now I never kepp in contact with them.

B: Uh huh.

F: My sister everytime she comes down here she goes visiting but t \rnf.. I don't

know,I never did get that close to em.

B: Uhzez-b- .. Talking about the farms again, didiApeople have to buy that land from

PBC 3A -13-

B: /railroad or they cleared it and homesteaded it .. ?

F: Homesteaded it.

B: They just gave it to them then?

F: Yeah. Well -then thel e was g more or less agreement between Flnrv and the the-

Japanese people. -hre-was a given amount of it. Once they homesteaded the land
t<0 6yorh sk; Ai"-
and as time went on like people like and <_ ^ and our family

and uh,.- ..... oh maybe a couple more why they buy their little bit.

B: But originally it was .... ,

F: Yeah.

B: It was a homesteading thing. Well after Jp What happened to the pineapples?

Was it just that the land was bad or did something else go wrong or is there.....?

F: Well the the land was no good for it and I ',think tdh.. :. the i't type of

pineapple that they were trying to'o raise was no good either. And then

ii ..:. about in twenty-seven or twentyeight the county agent W tried to get

a few to t\, plant this brand fromlto that was sort of like a Cuban brand.

Great bit-pineapple. He tried to get them to start planting those but he had

no success with that. And then as far as the vegetable thing was concerned, all

the farmers used then was to just keep planting on the same land all the time

the sames crops and they didn't know anything about plant rotation until this

particular county agent came in) and umij W he advised i. plant rotation and

different other things to build back... the soil back up. In other words, in

the summer time plant Uh\say likeisoy beans or something over the land that they

had used for say green peppers) to replenish the the land with certain elements and

all and stuff like that. And Uh after a few years of that well tb. the land did

kinda replenish itself a little bit but not too much.

PBC 3A -14-

B: Whatind of things did they grow? What kind of vegetables?

F: Green peppers, tomatoes, t egg plant, green beans,.. -..Q that was the main

winter crops and then after the winter season they started in with squash, and

more string beans and Uh okra...... corn.

B: But you say it was kinda hard to make a living though off that, right?

F: Yeah, I would say yeah. Once every ten years that they hit real good and then

they weren't doing good.

B: Well was nh.... By the time you were old enough to remember that was ...... People

were starting to leave then you said.

F: Yeah.

B: Or had left most of them. Whatpwas the feeling?/I\hey had just given up, they

couldn't make a living? They had to go somewhere else?

F: Yeah.

B: Did most of them go back wherever it was they came from whether it was the

West Coast or New York or.....?

F: No h. --. they went where they thought they could make-'ja little money. Even if

it was just washing dishes.

B: But it was generally out of Florida then, right?

F: Yeah. Oh none no none of them stayed in Florida. They all went up Northeastern

or dolike you said in California.

B: But they didn't all h a whole bunch didn't just get up and leave together? It

was just one or two families or one or two just people?

F: No, no. Just dribble out, yeah.

B: And that was mainly because it just of the so hard to make a living and the

land was( ?)

F: Yeah.

PBC 3A -15-

B: Tiotyou think that, there was.-.;,. Do you think t+at people were mislead about

what it was like here when they first came here and they got down there and

found conditions pretty bad?

F: Well 'i\I don't think even --l,'< knew that as far asAfarm country is concerned.

B: Uh huh.

F: That is along the East Coast here.

B: I guess ,,\,plmain objective was to get this end of the state more or less


B: Yeah.

F: I mean that was his ideamainly I imagine.

B: Make business for his railroad. (chuckle)

F: Yeah, uh huh. ,. 2--

B: But I've talkedAto some people about how difficult it was clearing the palmettos

and clearing the land and everything. i\ o you know if there was anything that they

were told it was gonna be one way and they/ifound out it was another way? Was

there anything like that?

F: Well noI don'tI mean....

B: Nothing?

F: I don't think it could've been any different from what they said because it was

obvious that the land was that way.

B: Yeah.

F: I mean they could see it.

B: It was tough.

F: Something -something you say and that was it

B: And the mosquitoes huh?

F: Uh yeah. Ya know the thing is all these people who , these Japanese people)

they more or less built their own homes and uh it was made out of this old 6i_

PBC 3A -16-

F: Florida pine, -fat pine. And th even uh. during..... in the ub well the last

place we stayed was in the old Sac&i hou; home and ih boy that fb't. (mumble)

be even when I left why it's some of that lumber is so hard you couldn't drive

a hai.:, nail into it.

7 F: It was so full of that tih pine fat that when you you tried to drive a nail or

"anything the pine would just grab the nail and then it just hold it.

SB: I'll be darn.

F: And and&,' it was rh it".ws- better than any lumber you could buy at that *w-c

S..... (tape ends)..........anything about their relationship either. B: j '.':

B: Hnim. (pause)

F: Well they didn't know too much about how uh tuberculosis at that time either

ya know.

B: Yeah.

F: Just like they don't know anything about Wicancer now.

B: Yeah. Well I was......

F: Or they say they don't.

B: Yeah. Well when I was growing up) I grew up/in northwest Kansas way way out there

and we had a tuberculous sanitorium there because it was dry climateya know)

and people would come out there just to die then. They didn't ..... It's the

only reason.

F: Northwest Kansas, where in th',uh Truman's country?

B: No, on e? He's i4? Kansas City and I was,\clear on way out on the

Colorado boarder practically.

F: Oh.

B: Way out there. 2AnI uh 1.-:. But anyway I know what you mean about tuberculosis

because people just couldn't ya know it was practically a death sentence if

they got it ya know.

PBC 3A -17-

F: Yeah. 0 ',. .,

B: 0p dhat uh-were was there a lot of typhoid around at the time, were there other

diseases that people had problems with?

F: No.

B: Malaria?

F: 4 .d," (pause) Yeah they used to have a TB center at VI Lantana.

B: Oh yeah that big building down there, is that...... Yeah that used to be a

TB center.

F: Yeah.

B: Well that's a mental hospital now isn't it?
F: Well you might be thinking of a different one. This TB center was on,;.. right

off the highway. You're talking about the one that .ih .... yeah 195.

B: Yeah. Yeah. That was a different one.

F: Yeah. Yeah but that TB center..... The one I'm speaking of was on the east

side of the highway.

B: Well is there anything else on there that ya see that makes ya strikes a memory

or anything?

F: (pause) Well yeah u.h... Wj.... during the holidays like tZ Fourth of July and

Memorial Day werused to uh make uK these Uh floats. Made em ourselves with

two or three different people in in-An Yamato Colony. Well they made floats to

enter into the parade that they used to have when the..... Even in even up in West
q? P 7 9 7
Palm Beach the sun dance there was sun dance parades too. We we always went.

There's a couple of us that's had floats in them.

B: The Seminole Sun Dance?

F: Yeah, mm hmm.

B: Did you have much contact with the Indians there?

PBC 3A -18-

F: No, huh huh. We had more contact with the gypsies.

B: Oh you did?

F: They used.....When they coming along that Old Dixie there they would they would

camp behind our storeand spend a couple of nights there.

B: Oh yeah?

F: They'd come in 4A.._,__J--) but :Ri' well like whether they V1Wy were

that type or not I don't know. Ya know you always heard about how they steal

from people and all that.

B: Yeah.

F: Especially at that time. So we were always looking-out, (chuckle) We hated

for them to come around but they we didn't chase em away when they parkVh camped

in the back. Just let em do whatever they wanted to and that was it.

F: What.... How was it around here when the war started? Were there...... Did you

have many problems with government and so on?

F: Well I was in Miama at the time and as far as I was concerned I didn't have

any trouble.

B: It wasn't like it was out on the West Coast and those places?

F: Oh no. In fact abl-....,vh there was Qh1 an immigration officer 4f" downtown

one day and I was catching... % I was waiting for a bus to get back to the

place I was staying and he came up to me and he said "Ya know it's none of my

damn business but" he :says "I've been watching you for quite some tim"i And

S-i he said 4h "Ya know I can't make out your nationality!-.) So I told him right

off. And he says "Ya know it...." he said he would have taken me for a

Chinese or a Phiapino rather than a Japanese. And OS so he said "Well don't

you feel bad",' He said uh :"About five years before the war started..." he said,

"h "I was over 'in the Philippines and I was working for the government theh'-1

PBC 3A -19-

F: And he said "We got to the point where we could recognize any nationality or

any combination of nationalities over there just like thaf1" But he said,

"The Orientals that's born in this country" he says "here's no way"! He says,

"p)i "Can youAthink of any reason why it is that way?" I said first you're

away from that climatic condition. The climate is one. Another thing is your

eating habits are different. Eating ibn. the southern and south and north people

all the northerners and the southerners. They eat differently and tjI you

can see the difference there. See even in their language too.

B: Mmm hrm.

F: And u I said-hose are the two big reasons right there/is their eating habits

and theA uh climatic condition. And he said) Well\guess you've got something"/

He was mainly talking about the way they were the orientals are more.... they're

taller and they're built bigger and.....

B: In the United States?

F: Yeah than the were over there because they were on a set diet where t well and

and usually uE in their native they i eat their native foods where over here.

Well ya don't)you aren't consistently eating 'entiug native foods here. You're

eating what everybody else is eating.

B: And that's es4ig native food. What's here is native.

F: Well yeah. Well uh.... When like `hlten'b....... the i#h the JapaneseAgot together)

it was most of them Japanese food though.

B: What would they fix? What kinda things would they fix?

F: (chuckle) Oh I can't remember the names of these Japanese foods now but ttr

it's some kind of rice they made with uh all these Japanese vegetables mixed

up in it and it was sort of a a sour.... well kinda sweet sour rice and they

always used the soy sauce in it mixed in too. And they had some kinda rice roll

thats got all these vegetables in it. They were the swere cooking special

PBC 3A -20-

F: sauce and they laid it out on one of these um... well I call it C__ .X _

The black leaf about about as big as this piece of paper and they just lay uh a

layer of VA rice down, white rice, and then put 4he4e these r vegetables cut

in long strings and roll it up and\cut it in pieces about that wide and that

was kinda on the sweet side but it was fill'iv\ ,

B: Kinda like egg rollswasna-fe-t-? ?

F: Uh no. It was it was rolled like ' you would *ia jelly roll.

B: Oh. Oh.

F: And t ...... ,, .. as far as the main dishes are concerned I don't even

remember the names of them.
B: Mainly whatear was/available I suppose. A lot of fish?

F: Well) 4q, like I saidwe always went fishing as far as that goes. In fact,
Iou 30
at that time we used to be able to bring home tw6 or three-ndredAsac5of fish

everytime w1 went fishing.

B: Are you talking about in the ocean or in the......?

F: In the ocean. Surf fishing.

B: Oh wow..

F: You can't do anything like that now. ind-isd t ih .- h- .Ya-know-t-s....

I'm inclined to remember the thextha-qh good part of life down there not the the,

sad part.cause ya know, and the bitter part.

B: Well what what were the bitter parts and the sad parts? The work or the isolation

or what iv!yit, wasI...?

F: Well just what I say I don't remember too much about the bitter parts.

B: Uh huh.

F: I was I guess I always fell on the good side of things.

B: Well ypo i4 pr; N ouwhaye-lto6'KdoK.:.>,. Aiid you work in the fields a lot when

you were young?

PBC 3A -21-

F: I was driving truck when I was nine years old. (chuckle)

B: Is that right?

F: Yeah. ) And not because they made me. I guess I just took

it like automatic like. And 41-heck I had to hold myself up against the

steering wheel to hold myself where I could look over the steering wheel to

drive it, G o\cK '. c \0-, ......* ,

B: Yeah I guess that's about like what anybody that grows up on a farm, you automatically


F: Just fall right in at that.

B: Just do it, yeah) Right.

F: Shoot and then after I got where I could uhlih do the-regu-ar work well I was,'.out

in the fields and on top of that I was making all the crates. They don't make

crates anymore I don't think. But we had to make the crates for everything te

we sent off.

B: No I imagine that was probably an endless job too, wasn't it?

F: Yeah. :I got to the point where I could make em faster than anybody around the

place 'tr2e.

B: Oh yeah?

F: I mean they were t._ ... The American boys, when I sayAmerican why the white

boys, they were theyzwere quite a few of those too/I Uh um and like I say the

Orange family they had .h.-the y-hai. ii-only-mone..D- they had a son and a daughter.

The Pagan family had two sons. There's another Pagan family had one daughter. The

Smith family had about Ai seven. And there's the tp Carroll family had two girls

and a boy. Then well later on in the late twenties) the Montgomery family came in.

h the old man was'tim.... rum runner at the time. (chuckle)

B: Oh yeah?

PBC 3A -22-

F: And he never did live in Yamato though. He lived upAin West Palm and that was

the 'hIe mother and twothree sons and three daughters. There were only two '....-

daughters and...... the three sons Mh lived in'Bo.:.;-ith Yamato.

B: Well Yamato-wes all Japanese then was it?

F: No, huh uh. Well from the beginning it was.

B: Right at first when people first came.

F: Yeah. Yeah.

B: But by the time that you were born it was pretty mixed up then I imagine.

F: Uh Well these the only those s),0 families I mentioned is the only ones there.

B: But you know the impression I got when I first started with this is like ya-knTao

here was Yamato that had a definite city boundaries and it was all Japanese. But

it was kinda spread out and it was kinda mixed up then wasn't it? 05 .

F: No and then,.h and the say uh mid-tweaties i,.' there was t

they lived onXthe east side of the highway. They had twojkids...... two boys.

And li then there was ri' __M moved over there in that area and Uh there's

one more guy moved over there. I've forgot what his name was. AndiU then

there's W George YflctiioAmi ,lhe later on moved over there on\WEU n the

east side of the highway by himself. And tit's (h KfV c. 0I he moved

over there later on. And that's about all that went over that way.

B: So that was .pfThatj! 'was before they built a bridge across the intercoastal?

F: Yeah, uh huh. Well they always had that one in Boca. They had that one in Boca.

Now the place that they were gonna build one where O ...,. in sm VillxRica, that's

that h development.

B: Oh yeah.

F: And uh uh right off Yamato road by over by Old Dixie there and Yamato road was

the beginning of the north boundary of VillxRica and that run all the way to ;:

PBC 3A -23-

F: where W the old colored town used to be about two and a half miles south of

Vi..,ul of ;uh Yamato Rad.

B: O.K. well.......

F: Between the the ih Old Dixie and Federal HighwayS.

B: Well then tht was before you got to the old Indian mounds?

F: Uhh the Indian mound was\uk more or less diagonal across from the 'cth'.'. n rtheast

boundary of Villa Rica.

B: O.K. well then it was almost straight across from where the old packing plant

was, packing house wasn't it?

F: Well l- the packing is between the packing plant and the Yamato uh-Yamamfo

Road is where the old mound was.

B: Yeah.

F: But east.

B: It's further east, yeah.

F: Yeah.

B: It's quiteit's....4

F: Across from the Federal Highway down there now.

B: Yeah, yeah, right. Well then where..... When you went fishing, was that at

Jap Rocks, what they call Jap Rocks down there?

F: Uh yeah. I guess 5'-gl sZ that's what it is. \ I don't know what

the call Jap Rocks now.

B: Well did.... Was that what they called it at the time though?

F: No. They did..... We didn't have any name for it at all.

B: Oh yeah?

F: No we always went to Boca Raton across the bridge there and Twent back north
until ya for abouthree and a half miles. I guess that's where what they
until ya for about,'Vthree~se, and a half miles. I guess that's where what they

PBC 3A -24-

F: call Jap Rock.

B: Well I don't know where..... Are there a bunch of rocks there? I don't know

exactly where

F: No, not ?,;4 no. iUh..., here's well it's let's see ., ,along

the shore line it's like that and then it jets out a little bit and then come

back and that's it.

B: Yeah.

F: And there's a few rocks....'Thereuh, I don't know how to explain it. It's 14

rock foundation/ithat jets out into the water a little bit and Wi then just east,

just south of that about three blocks south of that there's 'i c .'..-. piece

of rock about..... oh big as this this.area right here..... in there that 1%

there was two 'two pieces of rock like that out there. qh Gne a little bit

further out than the other. And during low tide we used to go out there and

and cast and off of the those rocks and fish ^CDJ But um..... my sister

took me over there one... couple years ago)and anr'd\m I said it looked something

like it but tt I couldn't find those rocks that was out there in the water.

Maybe ihs..... well during low tide it was maybe thirty feet out and during high

tide it would probably run about hih forty-fifty out. But &i I couldn't find

that rock. But the other part of it looked pretty .n3y. p.tty familiar.

B: eiut.,. Well you don't think that there was any one major thing that caused

Yamato to disappear. t was just..... kinda people just drifted off and.....?

F: Just _

B: Nothing to do.

F: Because .tUwell I guess maybe deep down inside they were disappointed in not

being in not being able to make anything.

PBC 3A -25-

B: So it ended up there was probably just two or three that that did. Your family

and the .. :-. were the only ones that really) "it(7.\Y. ci A Od'

F: Uh......

B: And that managed to make anything out of it.

F: Uh yeah, you might say that. t" ,\. .Well I don't think-:', p\:' r- made his
"h"VJ-Tis guy probably made it
"as out of,farming though. \ tSl.... is guyi probably made it

out of farming but not p\'.. .

B: Oh.

F: Cause ^ .j last I H.. heard much about him was Uhah. he's about to go

down. And when I went on to Miam. well 0h I started hearing things about how

much land he's got and all that but he's the kinda guy that 'il.. _

In fact, t during the time most...... all..... most of the Japanese people were

down there well they kinda looked down on ,. K, .

B: Oh they did?

F: Yeah. He was sort of like an outcast.

B: Why was that?

F: I don't know.
they were playing all that pool and and=and=uh stuff u4 they seemed to kinda.....

well gave him a cold shoulder when he come around. I mean they didn't tell him

he couldn't come or anything. Just like u .... when Wi these/ah more or less

like a buffet affair on Sundays well t they wouldn't turn anybody down but they c1ri"L'

particularly like the idea. That'sithe impression I got.

B: The -Kobiashi-s whwIe. & u' had.athe when they had the pool games, was that in their

home or did you have some kind of a.......?

F: No, in their own home.

B: Yeah. It's kind of a gathering place then.

PBC 3A -26-

F: Yeah more or less. They usually gather on ph Saturday afternoon afterneen-

and all day Sunday. That was when that whole group was around but ,h well

gradually like I saythey left and well hehle left too. He's in Chicago.

B: Kobiashi?
t-roJa& C.Sk'*
F: That's-tthfat nuh-.that s Oscar Kobiash4-

B: Oscar isAChicago? Oscar-Kobiashi?

F: I don't know whether he's still iu alive or not. But his his .... t sister's

in contact with his daughter.

B: Oh really?

F: Yeah.

B: Well I was gonna call your sister say like tonight or tomorrow night and talk

to her and R maybe she could.......

F: Mmm hmm.

B: yAP. After Joseph a-i died, do you think that that that had anything to

do with a lot of people leaving or quitting or.....? Did he hold people together

that much do you think?

B: (pause) Um... no there was still quite a few around. Yeah most of these names

ya got down here they were still aroundAhe-hp passed away. (pause) These

dates here, (mumble) that's when they there or?

B: No that's when the deeds were registered.

F: Oh, oh yeah.
B: See so some of them go all the way up to twenty-fi-ve and around 1910 well no they

go back even further than that. Seven.

F: Yeah I z ,e--- 'snine 1912 down there.

B: Mmi hmm. But\seeAthere shouldlx> been early back records and this book was' h

i yi don't have the date here but I think that was about 1930 even. But I

found this.

PBC 3A -27-

F: Can't you go to the County Court House and find all that?

B: Well I did. I went down there and the problem is is that th I can't find

some of the records because it was part of it was Dade County then too.

F: Oh. Oh yeah that's right, yeah.

B: And I don't know where the records are now.

F: Rec..... Dade County was all the way up to JupiterX iCl\v; iaWt

B: Yeah. And also I almost have to have the names to start with, to find the deeds

ya know, ". ( '\ so i-s-seaayit it's really confusing, especially

back that far. And they didn't really keep good tax records. I went through

and the tax rolls and theyi1Ajust write unknown, unknown, unknown because I....

One of the clerks up there said that they just did that because it was the easiest

thing to do. People would come in to pay their taxes on that piece of land and

instead of....listing the owner they'd just write down unknown. And you just

it just ya knowpage after page after page is that way so.

F: Yeah. Well it's just the same thing like right after the boom. Ya had all these

corporations that h--that had something to do with a piece of land and then ut-

oh maybe fifteen or twenty years later well somebody'd buy a piece of land and uh

they'd even build on it I understand, build a home on it, and they find out that

they didn't own it. Because everybody had.... All these stockholders had hadn't)-.

signed their names. And well it's because they were all dead.

B: Yeah.

F: But I don't know how they ever cleared it up. That's the reason v .... I guess

all the land is straightened out nowv)but tr that's the reason back there you

were kinda skeptical but it would pay to be skeptical in buying a piece of land

to find out whether the land was clear or not.

B: Uh huh.

PBC 3A -28-

F: And another thing whether the land was on low ground or otherwise ya didn't know.

It was.... When you come right out when you went out to buy the darn thing.

B: Yeah. You didn't know.

F: Well even eve now it's hard toohard to tell where the land's gonna be (mumble)

whether it's on low land or otherwise round even in this area here.

B: Yeah. Well when the\h .... Didtthe government confiscate your father's land

during the war?

F: Yeah. With the option of having to uh-pay.... According to what I understand

about it)J they confiscated it with the understanding that after

it was all over buy it back with the taxes. But then

I understand that &,hmy brother wasn't notified, that they were putting it up

for sale that way for ya know for taxes. In fact, he was supposed to be the

first to be able to ak. In other words, they should've let him know so he

could be the first one to put put his bid in so he could buy that place)but

Ah from what I understand from my sister why i\they weren't notified and

somebody else got it.

B: Just for the taxes?

F: Yeah.

B: Hmmm. Well then that's pretty valuable property out there now too. A lot

of that's where IBM and everything is.

F: Shoot. Well it 'itsLA, if I had that I I could be sitting on my fat can doing nothing.

B: (chuckle)

F: Well I'm doing nothing' now but a.....

B: Yeah. I know. Well there there were some German families that lost their land

PBC 3A -29-

B: then too at the time from what I heard. Do you know anything about that? That

owned some land out in that area and it was confiscated.

F: Uh.... it could've been in Delray. There was} there's an area that they

call German town but ihkl'db 't I never did know exactly where it was. Yet I

went to school with all those kids at Delray.

B: Did you ever hear of any other Japanese settlements like that around around

-Gaston. or out on Glades road or anything like that?

F: Well 'rlfras lh there's one family in G-s- '

B: Did they have anything to do with Yamato?

F: No. There was some over there istherewassome over therin the St. Pete area.

B: Well.....

F: And there was a few in Miama.

B: Do you know if they kinda came for the same reason that the people at Yamato did


F: No, no no.

B: Was that a totally different thing?

F: Yeah.

B: Now some of theseIl some.....

F: The one in GaCif sn was the only one that was doing any farming that I know of

and 0 the one that went to Miama they were in business like amtur h ......

well they had souvenirs and chinaware and all this stuff in Miama and there

wereAand there1 LJ' a {-.. ,&- well they went into Chinese restaurant business,

eve-i-tho they were Japanese people. And they were one of the guys3he was

flying his own plane and rt they t grabbed him. They had him in camp during

the r-J, ,

B: They did?

PBC 3A -30-

F: Yeah. And h they got two or three people over there in ph' I.]t the St. Pete

area. Theyy-found...... I think they found money or something that was concealed

were that they grabbed too because they had concealed money in their home.

B: Did you know ....... Do you know the what was the name, family and they

went up to cC r \nV\' .

F: That's where...... Yeah. They were tfey'wereyeah that's where they were. Yeah.

B: But they were originally from Yamato weren't they?

F: Uki

B: ?

F: Yeah. V0" and ui.,.. Yeah they didn't stay there too long though. .Ol

and tjb6o damn what was the other one. Hnm. 77ccc L /'5 QorEORfpart-s fthe family

and they all boys. The Ok_ ; family had one boy and about three or four girls.
That's the 0 i family. Uh hmm....... (tape ends)