Interview with Tom Kobayashi, December 3, 1981

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Interview with Tom Kobayashi, December 3, 1981
Kobayashi, Tom ( 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
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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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Interviewee: Tom Kobayashi
Interviewer: Robert Emanuel
Date: December 3, 1981

Subject: Mr. Kobayashi's experience in the public schools of Palm Beach County as well

as some history concerning the Yamatu Colony in Boca Raton.

K: In remembering back in the grammar school, I think Mrs. Collier was one of the most

brilliant teachers in the .i'^ g Boca Raton Grammar School. TJit'a'

the reason she was the principal of the Boca Raton Grammar School.

E: She was the principal and
K: She was the principal Yah. And in those days we had wood stoves. When it got cold

we burnt wood. She taught us all these handcrafts and that was one of her pride and

joys. Teaching students new handcrafts and everything, and in those days she even

taught kids how to run a projector.(iat how I learned how to run a projector. A

16 mm projector in grammar school, and I remember, all through my high school, and

even when I went in the army, in '45, '46, I Gjn lhhave to go through the projection

school. I knew it. I was teaching the guys.bagEp who came back from professional

school Projector school, I was teaching them how to do it correctly. They 1T1 t>

even know how to do it.

E: Now I saw a projector from way back one time, and as I remember, it's a pretty

monstrous looking thing.

K: j@e,( pretty heavy, 16mm.

E: b-sothat "-m s-have bn,-i' iso, she was a real, she was a real jack-of-all-trades.

K: right. And then, anytime somebody got sick she's always take a hand in it, even

though they only had;small first aid kit, and she go over long distance like, I think

she lived in Vantana and she drove that distance, rain, shine or storm or hurricane.

School.still went on. 4gP

E: Soyou say she gave you a pretty good combination then of the academic as well as the

other types of subjects

K: Right.

Page 2

E: The kind that kids would really enjoy.

K: te, and you were asking a question about what was our reaction in public school. Wel:

in, in the grammar school there it, we were just the same as all the white kids there.

Nobody deviated just because you were oriental. You were, you know, on one side of

the fence. We all went to school together and we all were in the boy scouts together

and performed together, everything.

E: Now you started, you started school in public school then. You were not in the

School at all.

K: No, no, no. The awm School was, had pasis up then. The grammar school

was in Boca Raton. The high school was in Del Rey so everybody that lived in

Boca Raton had to go high school, had to go to Del Rey. atj how we had the

school bus running from Boca Raton to Del Rey. First thing in the morning, they'I

( take the high school kids to Del Rey and on their way back from Del Rey, they'd pick

up the grammar school kids and take them to-Boca Raton. The school bus driver, her

name was, I think it was Mrs. and she lived only a block away from the

grammar school in Boca Raton.

E: 4i-t-iers-te, you say?

K: I think that was her name. And the school bus was kept in a garage. She *-At htI

a garage built on the back of her house. And she kept the school bus there, cause

I remember

E: I think, would she still be alive?

K: She might be.

E: Because I talked to a Diane Bennadetto who used to visit up at the colony with some

of her little girl friends and she recommended my speaking to the fti^e .

Couple of sisters and the mother, I believe she said. Tt's possibly she's still alive.

K: ^ t41 -

E: Was she a young lady at the time? Driving?

K: I think she was in her thirties or forties then.

^ ^c

Page 3

E: So she could still be alive.

K: Cause a few of us, she, a few of us ride the bus all the way up to Del Rey and come

back cause she knew so many of the kids were being picked up to go to Del.Rey and

they didn't even have a full bus. You know, jam packed full.

E: Do you remember any attempts of, all for the, I guess it would be the few years

you lived in the colony, you were too small to remember probably. Well, actually

how many years did you live in the colony before you moved away or before the

colony folded?

K: Well, actually most of the people from the colony went away after the, according

to my dad's say-so after the boom fell. They started moving away, so during the war,

World War II, there was only two of us, two families living in Yamatu then. Not

including Morikami and Kami Kami. They were bachelors, see. The Kamiyas was maybe

five hundred feet away from us, to the west of us, and we were, were were about

one quarter of a mile from the Dixie highway.

E: So you were in the, you and the Kamiyas were

K: The two families that were left

E: Holding the fort so to speak.

K: Right.

E: A good timUntil World War II.1 ht' when we had to move out because the, World

War II they took over the property and used it for a bomber base. I think it was

B-24's or something like that.

E: Do you recall any, any education attempts by your folks in the home as far as

teaching you any traditional Japanese ideas or values or customs. Was there, were

your parents thoroughly Americanized? Did they make a clean break with the old

country or did they try to pass on certain things at home?

K: Well, in those days when I was in grammar school I remember my mother, one of the

things that, heritage that you passed on to us while we were there was that you

remember her mother and some of her kin folks and being away from Japan, what they

PBC 12 A
Page 4

K: did was they put the picture of your kin folks on top of the dresser and then you

have this Japanese food. Delicacy good and she put it in her bowl and put it right

beside the picture and she taught us, you know, just give a silent prayer like

that we remember them, see?

E: Was this a daily thing or...

K: Yearly thing.

E: A yearly thing.

K: L4JiV, &{.&sC&_.

E: Kind of like a celebration or a remembrance, right?

K: eah. fi'Djust like you go to your, like I go to my dad's cemetery on his birthday

and leave flowers. Or g the way we did it in I for our, my mother's

or dad's kinfolks or something like that, see? We put little flower on the side and

put their picture and make some Japanese food and put it in a dish and it stays there

for a day or so, and, g )just to remember that

E: _f ) the significance of the food in a dish exactly?

K: I never was told too much about it. But I guess it was an oriental custom that

people that passed away, aT^eyPleave the food, I guess the, I guess it goes almost

back to the Egyptian times. You know, they used to do that too.

E: For the long journey or whatever. Something to that effect. What about, what about

other customs in general. Were, was much passed on.

K: Well, we 412T wear Japanese clothes except for once in a while he have a

celebration like, one of the celebration that I remember back was fourth of July

even up to the late thirties, even though the, some of these other families like

Yam and They used to come down to Yamatu on the fourth of July.

And we used to get together and have a big dinner outing on the fourth of July.

Best I remember is that the Kamiyas, and everybody cooks food and we used to make

some ice cream. My dad used to make us crank that old two-gallon ice cream thing.

-B^*^ /W

Page 5

E: Frank spoke real fondly of that by the way. He mentioned it a number of times in

the interview. He kept coming back to that, and when I asked him what he, what, when

I asked him some of his fondest thoughts and memories of those days, he kept coming

back to that. The family get together, the community get together, I guess. They

you shooting pool and picnics, outdoor

K: They used to go fishing together. He might leave an hour or two earlier than the rest

of them but you still went, was there. Everybody was there.
E: Did your, did your parents, was there anything that your parents sem to take on

quite readily as far as American ideas and ways of doing things. Would you say that

they assimilated rapidly into this culture or were there certain obstacles or things

that they hung onto from the old country.

K: There might have been some obstacles they had. One or two. But you gotta remember

that they were fluently speaking Japanese so they were speaking English in a broken

English and in the family,(e'dbe speaking half English and half Japanese and

sometimes my dad used to get after us for speaking Japanese. He says, you know, how

you expect to learn English if you keep speaking Japanese and then my mother would

say, well, you gotta learn how to speak Japanese and write a little bit too. We used

to write too.

E: Did they make you write or was this something that you

K: No, they just, you know, in the past times (hi teach (us to, when we had time

-t- teach us some alphabets and stuff, but ve)forgotten that now.

E: As far as the home environment went, was it a pretty good bilingual situation?

A pretty even mixture of

K: Half and half, ya.

E: Thatsgood ( too bad they( a still do that today. Then all kids would learn

a language. But when we have it naturally like that i) *

K: Well, here in Florida, see,v way different from the Japanese in California, now.

gouVgotta remember, in California(thees-)a larger percentage so they had Japanese


Page 6

K: schools there that they could go to and learn.

E: They probably clung to it a lot more too.

Ki, Ya, right. Heritage would be more you, and here . more Americanized.

E: How fluent would you say you are in Japanese today as far as reading and writing?

K: -m) as bad as my dad was trying to learn how to speak English.

E: Do you think, was his English something that helped him survive?

You say it was broken English but he could get by.

K: He could get by. Cause I looked through some of the papers and found out that in the

early days that when my dad was farming, he had time enough to do real estate. He

was a real estate salesman.cW eve)even got some papers that show that he took out a

license as a real estate salesman.

E: How about that. Did he work independently or with somebody else?

K: I daTnknow. I dot remember. My mother even told us that he sold real estate.

E: 4VOrtD Now did he do, he did this in later years I would assume.

K: This was in the twenties.

E: Trying to get in on the land boom then.

K: U ,

E: I see. That, to me looking back on Florida's history, it would seem like the land was

always booming but they say the twenties was the high point when things really opened

up. What, getting back to the schools a little bit, you said that you felt that

the, the school situation was nothing unusual as far as your ethnic background, but

do you, do you remember anything unusual or out of the ordinary upon entering school?

Or from your first years, was there anything, is there anything that stands out in

your mind as being an unusual favorable or unfavorable impression upon entering

school? Was this a whole new ball game, so to speak, or was this, what kind of

expectations did you have?

K: I guess we were just like the regular American kids going to school for the first

time, but I -te recollect that far back backeff my dad or my mother brought us to


Page 7

K: school on the first day or not. All I remember is riding the school bus and going

to school and knowing these people like John Mitchell and the Britton family and

being in the boy scouts. We were all Americanized so we, you know, played together.

E: How many years were you in the boy scouts?
K: I started in boy scouts in Boca Raton and I ended up in the Fort Lauderdale

in boy scouts, so I stayed there up til high school. I became like a star scout.

I it go up to an eagle. That's when Fort Lauderdale High School was still right

here where Landmark Bank was and we used to have .

E: ,Ta be the old building. I think(? now an elementary school. No, no.

K: They tore the high school down. They, the grammar school was on the, the, the high

school is actually where the landmark parking lot is. Or part of it. And the

grammar school was where Landmark Bank is now. They saved the trees. That's the only

thing they saved was the trees. And we used to have the boy scout jamboree there

where you have your contests, you know, boiling water and running and all like that.

E: What year did your family come down to Lauderdale from Boca?

K: I think it was in '42, cause '41 we were in Del Rey. See, we moved out of Yamatu to

Del Rey and lived in Del Rey for just a short time and then my dad moved to here.

Show our old address was 705 across the street. That was only house

we could find in those days and that house was built in the early twenties and it was

a two story house, so us children lived inihe upstairs and my mother and dad lived

downstairs. It was actually two apartments.

E: Was that pretty hot upstairs?

K: Hot? During the summertime might have been a little bit hot.

E: Then, a lot of people now 6n realize that there used to be quite a few two-story

homes in Florida. It was not all that unusual I guess, huh?

K: Well the Kamiyas'house was a two-story house. In YHaL. Ours was a one-story house.

E: Well(it possible their house is in some of those old photos up there then.

K: Yes,1t possible.
^ ^?3

PBC 12 A
Page 8

+ t

E: What, I guess &{ b more now about high school. What would you say were some

of your most enjoyable subjects? Did you have a favorite subject out of all the things

you took, or was there anything that stood out as being the most enjoyable?

K: Well, you know, being in boys, you always like woodcrafts. And one of the most

important part of the woodcraft is learning how to use the wood carving tools to make

your own tables and lamps and so on. And that was one of the most important things.

And at that time, you see, we were still going to, I was still going to boy scouts,

and when I was going to high school, see my sister and I were both going

to the Salvation Army Church, andathe Salvation Army Church we were playing musical

band. I mean, we were playing the band, musical instruments in the band. I think she

was playing the French horn and I was playing the bass horn, and the officer in

charge was a man from England. His name was Major Sharp and he played the concertina

and boy, he could really play, & -a ,' trumpet. And he was the one that got

me my driver's license cause he wanted a young fellow to do some pick-ups and

deliveries, you know, for furniture and stuff like that, so V ) how I got my

chauffeur's driver's license. When I was in high,school. He took me down to the

driver's license place and damre"r around the block. He said okay, I know

you know how to drive tTEns he said Major Sharp probably taught you everything.

E: Yudalready been doing it anyway.

K: Xa4.Lij (

E: So what subjects did you hate? Did you hate any? You know, what, were there any

bad points?

K: I guess English was the worst subject for me. ts)always been hard for me. One of

the reasons why I thinkai a little bit hard for us, in those days, ( a left hande|

person, in those days

E: Join the club.

K: They made students, when I was in grammar school, I (&n I ln believe it was

Mrs. Collier's fault now because it was another teacher. I was probably in third


PBC 12 A
Page 9

K: or fourth or fifth grade and they, they got after me for writing in left hand, and

made me learn how to write in right hand. Nowadays you onlt) you don't tell kids

to write with the right hand.

E: They thought you were warped then if you

K: -s--

E: Were left handed.They tried to change me too, but they panTji

K: f 's one of the reasons my hand writing is bad my mother said. Even my expression,

she says, to express things I even sometimes feel likeC- stuttering like or dJ

collect everything and put it together, and one reason, another thing, she just

always said that I was slow. And yet my sister is fast and sometimes my mother used

to say, I wish, I wish I was a boy and my sister was a, I mean a girl, and my sister

was a boy, cause my sister was almost like a tomboy cause she used to do a lot of


E: A9 water high school came junior college, right?

K: Right.

E: West Palm.

K: Right.

E: And you had two years there.

K: Right. I was just passing time away because at the end of high school I wanted to

get into the service and they told me that very hard to get into service, so I

even got

E: Why did they tell you it was hard do you suppose?

K: Well, being parents were aliens

E: Okay, oh yeah, we're talking about the early forties now then right?

K: Yeas. 1J2-S

E: You graduated from high school in...?

K: '45.

E: '45.


PBC 12 A
Page 10

K: But even then, in '45, see you had the Japanese regiment then. Japanese-

American regiment.

E: By the time you actually graduated in '45, early summer, probably the war was

K: Was about over

E: Still not over yet.

K: June. Let's see, June '45 was when Europe was over.

E: But Pacific Theatre

K: Pacific Theatre was still going.

E: Yms. Well now, in the junior college did you pick up a two-year degree then? Did

you go two years?

K: I only went for about a half a year and then I was drafted. See?

E: Oh, they drafted you.

K: '" I was drafted. They told me to wait and get drafted. Well,,

E: Tough to get in but they drafted you eventually. I i ( L ^ / J

K: ) because I, at that time my dad knew, I think it was Dwight Roger. He was a

congressman to Washington, D.C. Well, he tried to get me into the Navy and then the

Army, Air Force, and they couldn't get me in. So they said, well, you better wait

and get drafted so in '46, January, I got drafted and ,

E: Caught up with you anyway, right?


E: Where did you go for basic training?

K: Well, the time that I got drafted was the time that Mr. *_ guy owns the

liquor store, he went to, for physical examination down to Miami same time I did, and

since he had two daughters, they crossed him off and said he on have to serve. Wel

we went to Camp Blanding.

E: -EktT, =F4;*V &

K: From Miami we went to Camp Blanding and got our second examination there. And we

were still in civilian clothes. Now the first camp that we went to was actually

s '5

PBC 12 A
Page 1i

K: Fort Georgia.

E: Oh yee. Atlanta.

K: e. And this was in January now. Us boys from the South, we cg t stand that

cold weather, so the first, the camp that I went to to take my basic was-P g. Camp

Lee 44 Camp Lee, Virginia. That'. quartermaster's school.

E: Right.

K: And at where I took my basic but they di:in't issue our clothes if*t t

we got to Atlanta.

E: Typical government snafu

K: So by the time' in my second or third week of basic, I 46n)know what week it was,

I had pneumonia. I(rlTdt ven know it.

E : No kidding.

K: So, I caught pneumonia and I was in the hospital. I think it was two weeks. IConl t

even remember going in the hospital. All that I remember was that it, fellows

up on the second floor, oriental, and the fellows, two fellows were running backhand

forth with canteens trying to give me water. hia`' how bad it was. And I was, they

told me they took me to the emergency room. I was delirious and I was walking under

the bed and so on and what not.

E: Uh, all right, and you, you were in for two years and then you

K: No, draftees t- --e- Suppose to have been nine months.

E: Oh, I see.

K: diere's ome other boys that came in with me, got as far as Fort McPherson, like
--7-- d
Baggage. His son went the same time I did and being that he learnedtype,

learned typing in high school, they snatched him off the group at Fort McPherson and

kept him there. He (d'te ever take basic training. In nine months he was home. Well,

with me, they sent me to basic training and quarter master's school and from there

that was, I think it was nine week's basic there, they send me to Camp 7

California, and, but they let me stop off for about one week here at home before they

Z-4s -(-

PBC 12 A
Page 12

K: sent me overseas, so when I got discharged from the service, it was thirteen months

instead of nine months.

E: And, but overseas you went to Okinawa, right?

K: Right. By way of Philippines.

E: From where?

K: From California to Alaska, we went by Alaska and then circled down to the Philippines

and dropped off for a few days there and then we jumped back on the boat and went

to Okinawa and that's where I was stationed.

E: That was your overseas, that was your only overseas duty station.

K: Right. And when we went to Okinawa, actually when we went to overseas, at that

particular time, there was a lot of the Japanese Americans from the 442 were being

transferred (end of side one) ( 7 S)

E: They never sent you to another school then?

K: Special school, no. '

E: Again, typical American

K: Yeah.

E: Leave it to the army

K: It just so happened that when I was assigned to this dental section, they were very

short of army officers, dental officers, so they had to borrow navy dental officers,

and the navy dental officer.that was assigned to me was a very nice fellow from

California and he did, he did surgery there and lot of times we worked til evening,

fiyt thirty, six o'clock, and you know, mess hall then, most average mess halls closed

so e take me over to the officer's I h'-C I would wear his jacket and4II

walk into the officers mess, e take me over there o c\

E: Did you eat that much better?

K: No. No.

E: Not much difference?

K: But it was good. -That% how good an officer he was.


Page 13

E: You got to eat the stuff that fa leftovers by the time it got down to the

enlisted men.

K: Right, right.

E: ipaa.i why did they send you to Okinawa? Do you think there was any unusual

specific there as far, were they deliberately picking guys of Japanese background

do you suppose? Was there a plan behind that?

K: I think there was a plan. See, at that particular time, Okinawa was captured in '45

somewhere, or '44, f&. Er < e got killed in '44.

E: < Easter time '45.

K: Well, American base, they were going to make Okinawa a permanent American base so they

had to get the Okinawans on their side.

E: But now, M' ae, hadn't the native cOkinawans always been kind of a subculture or

something. e they kind of, you know, being so set off from the main islands,

(5r-en they....?

K: Well, to my i,f-S6 aiy mother and dad used to say that Okinawans were farmers. They

ie-ri too much educated. People that lived in the mainland were more educated, but

they knew how to grow things.

E: How, you must have had some contact with them there, being aC

E: permanent duty station. What, did you, what kind of reactions, unusual reactions

did you encounter? You know, Japanese fellow in American uniform.

K: Well, you got to remember now Okinawa was Japanese too and the time that I went

overseas, we still had Japanese pri 'onei of war on Okinawa and they had their compound

Well, I was assigned to pick up, I think it was three Japanese prisoners of war

every morning and then we had maybe two or three Okinawans that worked in the

dispensary and the Okinawans did the cleaning, the housekeeping, and the Japanese

prisoners of war,c5. be maintenance. If the door needed fixing, they did the

fixing. And they wanted me to carry a pistol, 45 pistol, and being that I come out

PBC 12 A
Page 14

K: of quartermaster's school, and I never learned how to shoot a pistol, so they

(weren very strict on that. I told my Okinawan prisoner, I said, here, you carry

my pistol for me, and I got chewed out for that. ButtT how, _hta how we were.

A prisoner of war, even though they were from Japan and they were Japanese army,

they were just like, you know, not a soldier from another country, and these fellows

were very good craftsmen and the Okinawans, they were very good in cooking. The lady

used to bring delicacies and stuff to us to try and so on. But one, every morning I

had to make two trips. One to an Okinawan village to pick up the lady and the man, and

one trip I had to go to the Japanese prisoner of war compound to pick up the prisoners

and exchange, we always, you know, for all their good work, we always give them

something good. Like candy, and the prisoners of war, we always give them cigarettes.

And the prisoners of war, they had their own locker in our dispensary where they keep

the fAC .I The reason for that was that they wanted, they fCan t want to take

"back to the prison compound too much food or cigarettes because they had to share it

with the rest of them. And the Okinawan lady, we used to go to the PX and get her

gifts and things that she might like and she very much appreciated&""

E: So you never, never really encountered any adverse reactions from the people.

K: No, no.

E: Did the people in general seem to adapt pretty well to American presence there on

the island?

K: u e only thing they(like was you had to be very careful and never go

outside your area, aa.mA Okinawa is, even though it's occupied by Americans was still

a danger zone. In other words, you have mine fields and so on. Everyday, people be

going out souvenir hunting and get legs blown up or something like that.

E: How about some of the prisoners? Were, did you ever, even though you personally idn't

encounter any adverse reactions from them, did you ever notice any kind of bitterness

or hostility in any of the prisoners?

K: Well, when we take these prisoners back to the compound, you could hear, you know,


Page 15

K: the other prisoners getting jealous because they went to work and they got something

for it, for there work and so on. c-Ta the only hostility...

E: sg._.a n-- oa, how about you personally? Did, were any of them ever

surprised or did any of them ever express any surprise to you personally, seeing you

K: --, the first time when I picked up my prisoners. They were shocked, and they asked

me, where are you from? And I said United States. I said fmfrom Florida. And the

guy says, Fhereqssthat? Said it in Japanese.

E: They thought maybe you were there to get them out or something.

K: Because see, in prisoner of war compound, ier all Americans and whites and

blacks, you know. They were guards there. And they were shocked. They never suspected

E: That take a lot of explaining to

K: No. Gab& we had, at my dispensary there was another Japanese there. He was from

California. He used to rub me ess I was a southerner and I had this southern accent

and the boy,( ub you for, til you go to sleep. But he speak more fluent

Japanese than I did cause he used to talk to the prisoner of war and get along with

them very well. Only reason they liked me was @ee- lJldtake them back to the compound

and bring them, and sometimes uJ even take them to the PX with me, and buy them

something, what they might want, see. ftae they always curious to see what American.

PX was like and all like that eaLe Japanese soldiers never had that much luxury.

E: (relatsreally interesting.

K: -^eia.2 ,

E: So you had, you had nine months I think you said, or so, on Okinawa?

K: No. I had thirteen months all t'4e!e4. On Okinawa it probably might have been

I guess, probably about, between seven and nine months, something like that.

E: Was that the only time you ever were in Japan?

K: Or in Okinawa. i even in Japan. When I was, when my time was up to come back

to the United States, they told me, would you like to go on TDY to Japan, and then

go back to United States and at that time I was in a big hurry to get back. My mother

'I J

Page 16

K: said boy you missed it. You should went to Japan.

E: FaP, that was quite a deal.

K: Jeatr.


K: eia3eat's two weeks in Japan.

K: I was afraid then that if I went there 'd u ever come back.

E: So( ve ever been to Japan.

K: No. Not to the mainland.

E: How about

K: Only Okinawa.

E: Did you ever have any desire since then to go back? Or go

K: I was suppose to have taken my dad before he passed away. He passed away in '67, and

I was suppose to have taken my dad to Japan so he could see it one more time. But

he went so fast though.

E: How about your mother? When was the last time she was there?

K: She has never been back since 1921 when she first came over.

E: Has she ever expressed any regret or desire to go?

K: No. I guess she got Americanized and she enjoys the .

E: guu- I guess coming over here was the bulk of the settlers, like your parents did,

-gfe ^ between the wars. Pre-World War II. I guess Japan must have changed

drastically too. Just, just since World War I up to World War II.

K: Sanea I was told long time ago that my, the reason my dad came to United States was

in those days they still had the old style or heritage. The oldest son takes over

the family business, takes over everything. You, if you were a younger brother, you

Tx*e for the oldest son if the dad passes away or if his older son takes over the

business so there's no way you would have enough money to spend or to go out on your


Page 17

E: And he ntant that.

K: 4 He- He .V like that. So he wanted to get out and (hat^ the reason he came

to American so he wanted to be his own.

E: Would you say,-thas)a strong possibility why some of the other young fellows came

over with __ ?

K: Probably, f I think they, probably was one

E: That they were fighting that tradition.

K: Well, I guess it was, I remember long time ago in, in Europe they always had that same


E: i s X^ve)heard of that tradition in connection with some other .. ,

K: I guess in the eighteenth century or early eighteenth century it was something like


E: Right. L,tjjJtypical of quite a few areas actually. If we can just for a second

here talk about minorities and discrimination. You mentioned before that you never

that you never really encountered anything unusual in the school. aa@ag"

K: General public maybe.

E: Did you ever encounter any, well let's not talk about in general now over a long

period of time but at any specific period, did you ever find any discrimination in the

school environment even if it was a once in a blue moon comment from other kid or

something like that? Do you think maybe, let's wrap that with this question. Do you

think back then maybe kids were much more open minded than they are now?

They say kids are a lot more open minded now today

K: Probably was. Probably was.

E: And yet prejudice still exists.

K: Oh, a r Right after Pearl Harbor, you know, the prejudice was still there

even though I graduated in '45, there was still some of them, hard core people

like, well, some of them were Georgia, people from Georgia. They was hard core

Page 18

K: farmers or something like that

E: But you never ran into that specifically at any time in the school environment.

K: I fdortremember.

E: How about in the service, going through basic and everything.

K: Weg4fTh have time to think that much. You only had time enough to get up and do

the things, and fall flat in bed. Only time you had some kind of like that was when

you came back out of service, if youea in an automobile accident or something like

that and 4 J j, like we had one here after I came out of service. Some

lady, colored lady, hit me. She said that the police discriminated her because I was

white even though( oriental, see? at the only thing that might discrimina-

tion but other than that, I _fillrecollect that anything very ,

E: Do you think possibly the kids in school would have felt a little bit differently if

there had been a real influx of Japanese students in the community.

K: (f possible5. T'ri. Could have happened just like it happened in California.

But you got to remember, when we were in Yamato, here we had two __ boys

from C t come down to guards, to protect us d / /A n the American

government sth both ways, two way protection. And one of the boys rAwas an

alien German. And here he is, he was laughing and he says, here my dad is an alien

German and I, (3protecting ya'll, or protecting our own government.

E: What do you, well, opinion-wise, what do you think of what happened at places like

Man ? Or do you say it could have happened here in Florida. Still, what

and you looked at, or when you hear about Manzanar and you look at the situation that

happened there, what do you have to say about the way the government handled that?

Were they, were they wrong, were they fair, unfair?

K: You mean what I think on the West Coast?

04 Well

if I realize Manzanar was just probably the more famous of the camps, or infamous, but

the whole West Coast situation was that good or bad...?


Page 19

K: I think they went to, one reason was, they suspected that the Japanese might invade

the United States since the submarines were that close. So in, to protect Americans,

they wanted to pull the aliens away from the coast area but they rushed it so fast

that the Japanese people ditfnaave time to collect or do anything. They were only

told th take a certain amount like a couple of suitcases and tat it. And whoever

took over their property, that was it.

E: Do you think the government was justified in its reaction to Pearl Harbor to think

that, course they could only go on what they thought or what they might have

had evidence for, but(i doubtful they had too much evidence, if any, that there

would be an invasion. Do you think they were just to the people involved in socking

them away in camp ?

K: What got me was that they were doing this to Japanese from California. They En do,

thereJ5ian no write up or anything too much of the Japanese in Hawaii. You never

heard anything too much about people in Hawaii.

E: a right. Tht 's kind of obscure.

K: si'Hawaii is almost, suppose to be ninety percent oriental people, or close to

ninety percent.

E: MiW, a lot of intermarriage going way back.

K: I think American government was too hasty in doing this because a lot of people

lost the back of their shirt. The business, their home, everything, and when they

came back, they
E: Did you all have any relatives in California at this time?

K: As far as I know my dad said he -qGl.4Z have any relatives there. All his relatives

and my mother's relatives were in Japan. I think the main reason why the American

government moved the Japanese off the coast was that long time ago, see, the

orientals are most, are closer to their group and there was a rumor going by that the

oriental people, E ryilike a Japanese counselor would come by and say, here, if

you were my dad, ay here, are you going to be on our side in case the war come


Page 20

K: or something like that? In other words, yoeualmost obligated to answer them, say yes

or no.

E: Make an instant commitment.

K: k sa. They want you to make commitment, so the American government has

sized up this situation might enter into people on the West Coast. That was one of

the reasons I think they took them off the West Coast and put them inland, into the

camps. But they were just guessing a pin in a haystack that that might come about.

And they (InTT)want that to happen. But they found out that the majority of them

were loyal Americans so--- what was done was too late because, to do anything for them,

even though the few of them got heart broken and died while they were in the camp.

E: Did you, did you and your family identify at that time, pretty much, with the, with

the Japanese in California? I'm sure you must have felt some, some sense of pity,

compassion for their situation that...

K: Vw, we did feel -

E: Did you kind of distinguish at any time yourselves from them as, well, here you were,

fully Americanized, basically, Americanized. Did you -distinguish in your mind at

all as far as yourselves and them, Americans here, Japanese out there, anything to

that effect or did you just consider them as Americans too. Japanese Americans who

were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

K: Right. I think we thought of that, that they were caught in the wrong place at the

wrong time.

E: Could have been yourselves.

K: teS, we Cl it could have happened to us here in Florida. Even my mother

was trying to say to us that, she said to us that, she says anytime we go out, say

we have to have one coast guard boy with us.

E: Oh, I see.

K: When we went to Del Rey shopping, we had to have one. They left one coast guard bo)

at home.

Page 21

E: So you had basically a personal body guard-type.

K: Yeah, it was two-way protection.

B-ihm. Ad my mother says, now be careful when you go shopping. Don't say anything

bad because you might cause a commotion or trouble or like that, cause there were

people in -i.'who were, you know, against Japanese after Pearl Harbor 0ee you

gotta remember see, a lot of Americans got killed in Pearl Harbor. AEd-

E: What were, do you remember any particular incidents. You mentioned earlier that you

encountered some adverse stuff in public. Not in school but in public. Do you

remember any particular incidents in a store or anything like that.

K: No I n remember. No, not right after the war. I mean, or during the war time.

I know when I was going to the University of Miami, we went to Mexico and we came back

by way of California and Texas and so on, that they almost passed me off asnMexican

wetback when we went to register at the motel, theylwouldn let us have a motel room

usese they thought I was a Mexican wetback so I had my professor, I was taking him,

I took him to California and then I was taking him back to the University of Miami, so

the next motel we went to, I had him go to the motel office and register and

then we-tb-_

E: How long did you spend down at the University of Miami?

K: After I came out of Palm Beach Junior College, after service I went back to

Palm Beach Junior College and finished the first two years since I only had about

a half a year at Palm Beach Junior College so from Palm Beach Junior College I went

over to Miami University and got my A.B. degree.

E: What was your major in?

K: Art. Art.

E: (hatsinteresting. Was, was it art itself or was it education? Did you ever have

any desire to teach it or

K: No, no. I just, I just, at first I was going to go into engineering but I(didn't

have a very good science and other things, academics to carry me through engineering


Page 22

K: so I had to turn to art and

E; So you graduated from Miami when?

K: '52.

E: '52. GI bill

K: I took part of it. Two years.

E: You do a lot better with it today, even with inflation.

K: 1=ka. 'A-'

E: As I understand. Well, I guess to kind of sum this up, ams I on' want to keep

you too much longer, already extended my welcome) sure, anything that oud

anything that sticks out from school days, any other personalities, teachers,

people who really made an impression on you as far as public school years.

K: One of the best professors that we had in Palm Beach Junior College, he was a

mathmetician for the United States Government. The Internal Revenue used to call on


K: (at how strong a man he was, and we had college out at Palm Beach Junior College

and if he ever told you something or taught you something, (het) turn around and

give you an example. He said, ('l have an open book exam. A ItherZ now it or

you don't. That's how smart he was. And he says, okay,ev Th have our exam an'he'lt 1

give a problem. He says, you can use your book Ewee if you -mTknow it, the book

-i.yfeti not going to help you.

E: You cqctnTr bluff your way through then, with him.

K: Ta1E1 right. And when I was in Palm Beach Junior College that was one of my top

subjects. I flunked english two or three times but that I never

flunked it, cause they stuck to me, even though I was slow.

E: What was his name? Do you recall?

K: No, ICEt)even remember his name. I have to look it up. I( j remember, but

he was kind of older fellow and he was well-known so the U.S. government, but boy

he was a real good teacher. And he taught us something. He said pnce you learn this
"9 CWc

Page 23

K: kind of problems you never forget it. And when I went to University of Miami, I. d

even have to take any college algebra second year because 7 they found out

that there was, I was strong in that. That if anything, I had to go back and take

english, college english cause (TtTh)swhat was my weakest point right there.

E: Well, I see we have just .

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